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Humber Railway Ferries
GCR - LNER - BTC - AHL - BR - Sealink
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This page shows postcards and images of the local River Humber railway ferries of the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) and its predecessors and successors.
Railway services from Hull to New Holland across the Humber began when the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway built the paddle steamers PS Manchester (1) and PS Sheffield (1) in 1849 and 1950. They were double-ended vessels which proved difficult to handle and had a funnel either side of the paddles, similar to the original steam Woolwich ferries. PS Sheffield (1) was lengthened by 17ft before delivery to try and improve manoeuvrability, apparently without success. The were replaced in 1854 with two more conventional vessels from the Clyde which took the same names (their former names are not recorded). The first two ferries were renamed Old Manchester and Old Sheffield although they remained registered in their original names - the replacements PS Manchester (2) and PS Sheffield (2)were never registered. Sheffield (2) was withdrawn and then sold in 1864 and Manchester (2) in 1875, although she had seen little use in later years being expensive to run. They were replaced with the PS Liverpool and PS Doncaster in 1855/56 which had long lives, lasting until 1905 and 1913. The PS Grimsby (2) was built for the ferry in 1888 and remained on the ferry until 1924.
The Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway (MS&LR) became the Great Central Railway (GCR) in 1897 ready for their London extension opening. They built the PS Cleethorpes in 1903 for the New Holland ferry. She lasted 31 years followed by an unsuccessful season at Leith as the Cruising Queen.
Two new paddle steamers were built in 1912, the PS Brocklesby & Killingholme, universally reviled as two of the ugliest paddlers ever. On the arrival of the two new LNER ships in 1934, Killingholme was retained a spare and for excursions until 1945. Brocklesby replaced Cruising Queen (ex-Cleethorpes) on the Forth but was no more successful, being scrapped in 1935.
From 1st January 1923 the Great Central Railway became part of the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER). In 1928 the LNER transferred the ex-North British Railway Clyde paddle steamer Dandie Dinmont (1895) to the Humber and renamed her Frodingham. She was modified to carry cars by removal of the fore-saloon before entering service and ran until the two new LNER steamers had fully settled in 1936 before being sold for scrap in Ghent.
The first two 'Castles' arrived in 1934, Tattershall Castle & Wingfield Castle, built by Grays of West Hartlepool. These ran until the 1970s and both survive on the Thames and at West Hartlepool respectively. They were joined by the Lincoln Castle in 1940 which was also preserved, at Hessle and Grimsby, but was demolished in some controversy in 2011.
The first diesel vessel used on the ferry was the Farringford in 1974. The Farringford had been delivered to British Railways (the British Transport Commission) in 1948 for service between Lymington and Yarmouth. She was driven by two paddlewheels, which could be controlled independently. In 1974 Farringford was rebuilt as a side loader and transferred to the Hull-New Holland route on the River Humber. She was withdrawn in 1981 - replaced y the new Humber Bridge. Farringford was sold to Western Ferries for use on their Gourock-Dunoon route. Sold in 1984, she was broken up in Hull.
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