Tuesday 14 December 2021

Wear Did The Ferry Run?

Wearmouth Bridge

The original bridge over the Wear at Sunderland was opened in 1796. Its road surface followed the top of the arch. The above shows the bridge under construction but nearing completion. Note that the construction timbers are so arranged as to allow shipping to pass through unhindered.
In 1805 it needed significant repairs because bits fell off in the hot weather! In 1859 Robert Stephenson rebuilt the bridge using the original arched girders but with a flat road surface, seen below with a football crowd crossing.
The present bridge was opened in 1927.

Wear Ferry (1)

The original bridge effectively replaced a foot passenger ferry, the Panns Ferry name remains in Panns Bank (lower right) ...
... but there is no remaining sign of this ancient crossing. 
A map of about 1883 shows three ferries further east than Panns. These three routes are shown on the 1940s ordnance survey map.
A Sunderland web site lists all the known ferries on the Wear in the Sunderland area.

Name unknown
Ran from a slipway at the East end of the wharf which was later called the Commissioners' Quay to Sand Point Road at the east end of the North Sands Shipbuilding Yard.

Low Ferry
Ran from Custom House Quay to Strand Street at the west end of the North Sands Shipbuilding Yard.

Sunderland Ferry or High Ferry
Ran from Bodlewell steps at the foot of Bodlewell Lane, Bishopwearmouth,  across the river to Monkwearmouth.

Pann's Ferry
Ran across the river from Panns Bank, just downstream from the road bridge. The 1895 Ordnance Survey map shows 'Panns Bank' & also 'Pann Ferry Road' leading down to the river. But shows no ferry, it presumably being long gone by 1895.

Southwick Ferry
c.1750-1905. A large 'carriage carrying' ferry running between west Southwick & the Deptford bank.

Hylton Ferry
Ran across River Wear from South Hylton to North Hylton.

Coxgreen Ferry
Ran across River Wear from Coxgreen to Washington Staithes.

fbb assumes that these are listed from east to west. But the old man is interested particularly in the Sunderland (or High) ferry which lasted, remarkably until 1957!
More tomorrow.

PLEASE NOTE : Brief blog due to unfortunate circumstances with Mrs fbb's health. A painful hip problem means the old man has significantly increased domestic duties.


The "traditional" Nativity story is often told, in words and in plays at school. It must be by far the worst told tale in the whole of the Bible.

The story so far. Joseph is betrothed to Mary who, with no involvement of her hubby to be, finds herself miraculously pregnant. Following the conventions and legalities of the day, Joseph should have thrown Mary out on the streets where her only option would have been to be a beggar.

But Joseph was convinced by a vision (there were a lot of them about) to break convention and continue with the marriage.
There was no donkey - too expensive. There was no star and they twosome almost certainly walked at night because it was too hot during the day. Here is all that we are told by Gospel writer Luke.

At that time Emperor Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Roman Empire. When this first census took place, Quirinius was the governor of Syria. Everyone, then, went to register himself, each to his own hometown.

Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the town of Bethlehem in Judea, the birthplace of King David. Joseph went there because he was a descendant of David. He went to register with Mary, who was promised in marriage to him. She was pregnant, and while they were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have her baby. She gave birth to her first son, wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger—there was no room for them to stay in the inn.

So no inn keeper, no stable, no cattle shed although it is possible there was one, but more likely a cave. Many Bethlehem folk kept their animals in the caves. 
It would have been as cosy as possible, and quiet. 

Oh yes; no ox, no ass, no sheep. They would have been out in the fields (Shepherds Field Bethlehem below.)
No Jewish person would share a room with animals for fear of becoming "unclean".

So the miracle baby was born.


 Next Wear ferry blog : Wednesday 15th December 

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