The New Brighton Ferries

I remember when I was a child walking down to the pier to meet my Grandma and Grandad as they arrived on the ferry from Liverpool to visit us. There is serious talk now of the Ferries returning to New Brighton. I will talk more of that later in a section entitled "the future of New Brighton" which should be very interesting as there are many plans for the regeneration of New Brighton.

The Royal Daffodil Arriving at New Brighton Landing Stage

The New Brighton Ferry is part of New Brighton itself. It was founded by James Atherton and his son-in-law, William Rowson in 1830.

The first pier was constructed of timber and a small "run-out" section was added later, while the windlass was operated by a circular horse mill. During ebb-tides the ferry boat, as it left the stage, would haul the stage out, to enable the next boat to use the birth.

Edward W Coulbourn purchased the ferry in 1850 and operated it for ten years. The Coulbourns lived in "The Grennen" in St George's Mount and, from the turret of the house, he could sit in comfort and watch the boats without leaving his home.

One of the brothers used to inspect the loading of passengers at Egremont and then gallop along the beach on horseback to New Brighton to watch the passengers disembark. He must have been quite a keen horseman.


Local Board as Owners

In 1860 the Local Board decided to purchase the ferry and it came into their hands by the following year when William Carson was appointed manager and set about improving and rebuilding the pier, which was opened in 1867. The Local Board paid £60,000 plus £9,000 for the boats for both New Brighton and Egremont Ferries.

While the new pier was being built the "Elizabeth" was used as a landing stage. The floating-stage was joined by two iron bridges. While it was under construction, it was damaged by one of Lamport & Holt boats the "SS Galilio", which crashed through the iron structure, while in 1907, a very severe gale caused damage and the pier floated away down the river and had to be rescued.

Toll booths replaced the idea of collectors with boxes, although these men could collect from the beach at low water, when people came on to the shore instead of climbing the steps.

In 1921 the floating landing-stage was renewed, the 150 ton bridge was lifted off by the Mersey Docks and Harbour's giant floating crane "Mammoth" and taken to a field close to Seacombe ferry for overhaul, being replaced by the same crane.

The service ceased to operate during winter in 1936, following alterations to the pier, the serviced being adjusted according to the demand.

In 1953, 2,907,000 people sailed to New Brighton but with people travelling further afield by motorcar, the figure dropped to 300,000 by 1971.

In 1964 the Ferries and Bus undertakings were combined, with a Transport Manager in control and in December 1969 it came under the MPTE.

During a gale on the 11th January 1962 the bridges leading down to the stage were badly damaged one falling into the river at one end. Once again, the "Mammoth" had to lift them off and take them to Birkenhead for repairs.


The Last Boat from New Brighton

In 1965 there were problems on account of the sand so boats were unable to berth at low water. There was also a big drop in the number of passengers from Liverpool and the ferry closed. The last boat sailed from New Brighton on 26th September 1971. The Ministry of Transport gave permission to close the ferry and the landing-stage was removed in 1973 and towed away to be broken up.

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