Tuesday 27 September 2016
Fleetwood Ferry Fascinates
But Terrible Trouble with Tides
Many years ago, the fbb family, the famous five with
Timmy Jazz the dog, hired a holiday house in Silverdale, Lancashire. fbb cannot remember the exact address (it was twenty years ago) but recalls that just up the road were extensive woodlands and "The Pepperpot"
fbb never walked to this exciting location ...
... but one night the dog did a runner and disappeared in that direction. Several hours of panic later, the dog re-appeared with a "what are you lot fussing about" expression.
One excursion was to Blackpool. fbb had never ridden on the trams and persuiaded the family that it would be fun.
The schedule involved driving from Silverdale (top right) to Knott End (near Fleetwood, bottom left). A ferry ride between the two would put the gang at the northern terminus of the trams.
The imposing railway terminus is long gone, but you can just glimpse a tram centre left in the 1950s picture above. Today you have a cafe and slot machine "place" with a tram again visible centre left.
When the fbbs crossed, the ferry the service was in a poor way and the boat was very tatty. Mrs fbb was a tad uneasy, not fancying being immersed in the murky waters of the River Wyre.
The first meeting to propose a steam Fleetwood-Knott End ferry service was held in 1851, but is was not until 1892 that the Fleetwood Improvement Commissioners reached agreement with the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway to build a ferry jetty at Fleetwood. Agreement was then made with the local landowner to gain access at Knott End. The predecessors of the Fleetwood Urban District Council assumed responsibility for the ferries in 1893, but leased the operation to local operators,
The late 1990s and early 2000s were turbulent times for the ferry, with a succession of operators running the service (usually summer only), including Wyre Boat Services, and Swift Offshore Services).
The service was suspended in 2001 and for several years was operated erratically. Recently some stability has returned to the route, but threats of cut backs in funding from Lancashire Council continue to threaten ongoing operation.
Lancashire County Council plans to stop the £85,000 subsidy it gives to the Fleetwood to Knott End ferry. The county council, which said it needs to reduce its budget by £65m over the next two years, pays half of the ferry's running costs, with Wyre Borough Council paying the other half.
Councillor Peter Gibson, Leader of Wyre Council, said: If county withdrew their half we would really struggle to pay for all of it. We are not a transport authority at the end of the day."
But Darren Wichman, fbb's Isle of Wight chum, would use the ferry to get from Blackpool to Conder Green; and Blackpool's trams are not what they used to be either.
Wyre Council publishes the ferry timetable and there's a different one each month.
Why? Here is the reason.
At low tide there simply isn't enough depth of water to get to the slipway at Knott End. Apparently paddling through mud is deemed unsatisfactory!
September's timetable (extract only) looks like this:-
NS is no service
AA is Access for All : half hourly service.
RS is restricted service
fbb could find no explanation of what restricted service entailed. Perhaps that is when you only have to wade through shallow mud?
We can only hope that Darren can plan his journey to and from The Stork at Conder Green carefully ensuring that he can actually get there and/or get back.
Which brings us neatly back to the 89 bus.
If it exists.
Nemo the 89 blog : Wednesday 28th September