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Ferries at Rock Ferry #313064
26th Apr 2009 12:06am
26th Apr 2009 12:06am
Joined: May 2008
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Wirral
uptoncx Offline OP

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uptoncx  Offline OP

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Wirral
There is evidence to suggest that the ferry at Rock Ferry existed in 1660, however it is first recorded in 1805 when on 27th June, Joseph White obtained powers by Act of Parliament to operate a ferry to Liverpool. The act enabled him “.... to demand rates for the passage of the river there [Rock Ferry], and to erect slips, wharfs and piers on both sides for the convenience of passengers and goods conveyed over the said river. .... If the piers, &c. are not kept up, the tolls are to cease.”

[Linked Image]

About 1820 a stone slipway was built. The ferry rights passed to Liverpool Solicitor, Thomas Morecroft and on 5th July 1836 the “Royal Rock Ferry Steam Packet Company” was formed. The company took over a wooden paddle steamer called Aimwell which had been bought second hand by Morecroft in 1832 As well as the ferry, the company also bought Rock House and Rock House Farm. Two more boats were bought, Alexandra in 1836 and Cheshire Witch in 1837, these were both iron paddle steamers.

In 1837 a new Sunday service to Herculaneum Dock in Liverpool was started, however this was not successful and it was discontinued the following year.

[Linked Image]

The new company expanded and refurbished the Royal Rock Hotel in 1836. Behind the hotel they laid out pleasure gardens.

[Linked Image]
Ladies entrance to the Royal Rock Pleasure Gardens

Rock Ferry to some extent relied on Stage Coaches for its passengers, but by 1844 the new railways had removed all but two of the stage coaches, those to Holywell and Mold, these had also gone by the following year. A bus service from Parkgate to Rock Ferry pier started in 1850.

[Linked Image]
Coach House and Stables at Royal Rock Hotel

The ferry prospered for some years, but with the opening of New Ferry with its pier and floating landing stage in 1865 its fortunes turned, and after struggling on for some years a lease was granted to Thompson and Gough in 1879.

Thompson and Gough also leased New Ferry and Eastham ferries and they started a triangular service between New Ferry, Rock Ferry and Liverpool. In the summer a similar service was run between Eastham, Rock Ferry and Liverpool.

[Linked Image]
The Mersey

In 1887 a gale destroyed New Ferry landing stage and Thompson and Gough suspended services. Rock Ferry was sold to R.A.Macfie in 1889. Macfie continued the ferry service until June 1891, when the Rock Ferry extension of the Mersey Railway opened.

Following the closure of the ferry, there was a public outcry for it to be re-opened, so in 1897 the Birkenhead Corporation (Ferries) Act transferred Rock Ferry, New Ferry and the steamer firefly to the corporation on the 22nd September 1897. The act bound the corporation into running a service to Liverpool for a period of 30 years.

The corporation drew up plans for a new pier and landing stage at Rock Ferry and a contract was placed on the 1st April 1898 with Jenkins Brothers of Birkenhead to build the new pier. As well as the pier a new red brick terminal building, complete with clock tower, was built at the landward end of the pier.

[Linked Image]

The new pier and landing stage were opened on Friday 30th June 1899 by the Mayor, Alderman J T Thompson at 5.30pm, public services started at 6.30pm. Birkenhead Corporation operated the triangular service between Rock Ferry, New Ferry and Liverpool using two of the smaller existing Birkenhead boats, Mersey and Wirral. Both of these were steel steamers built by J Jones and Son in 1890. Firefly, the former New Ferry boat, built in 1887 by J F Waddington & Co of Seacombe, was held in reserve.

[Linked Image]

The Wirral was replaced by the Storeton in 1910. The Storeton was a new steel steamer built by the Ailsa Shipbuilding Company in Ayr.

Also in 1910 Charles Boult brought his pierrot shows and concert parties to Rock Ferry. The shows were held in the pleasure gardens (now called the Olympian Gardens) behind the Royal Rock Hotel. There was a permanent brick built stage in the gardens and a marquee was erected to house the audience. The shows continued each summer until the death of Boult in 1925.

[Linked Image]

In July 1919 Birkenhead Corporation started a bus service from New Ferry pier to Park Station. A second route, to Port Sunlight started in March 1921. Other routes followed, and Crosville were allowed to run a few routes to the pier.

[Linked Image]

On the 30th January 1922, a Dutch Coaster, the Stad Vlaardingen ran into New Ferry pier in thick fog. After this, ferries only ran between Rock Ferry and Liverpool. The pier was not repaired although Bebington and Bromborough Councils tried to take over the pier and restore the service.

Cammel Laird built a new boat, called Upton, for the Rock Ferry service in 1925. With the introduction of the new boat the Mersey was withdrawn and sold for scrap.

[Linked Image]
The Upton

Losses continued to mount, in 1938 the ferry carried about 3,000 passengers a day, with heavy seasonal weekend traffic. On the 26th April 1939 the Mersey Tunnel Joint Committee passed a resolution to close Rock Ferry.

[Linked Image]
The Storeton

The last service was run by Upton which left Liverpool at 10.00pm on the 30th June 1939, the 40th anniversary of the opening of the new pier. There was no official ceremony, but a large number of Birkenhead Councillors travelled on the journey. Upton left Rock Ferry for the last time at 10.20pm arriving at Liverpool as the waiting crowd sang Auld Lang Syne and ships on the river sounded their sirens.

[Linked Image]

A year later Storeton was sold to the Leith Salvage and Towing Company, while Upton was requisitioned by the Ministry of War Transport, on her return in April 1946 she was sold to the Southampton, Isle of Wight and South of England Royal Mail Steam Packet Co Ltd (later renamed Red Funnel Line) with whom she sailed until being broken up in 1953.

[Linked Image]
The Upton at Southampton

After the closure of the ferry, the pier and landing stage remained in use, with various organisations paying to use it, most notably being the training ships Conway and Indefatigable. In 1955 Cammel Laird bought the pier from Birkenhead Corporation for it to become part of a tanker cleaning and degreasing berth. The bridge was removed and the landing stage broken up in March 1957.

Today, the Royal Rock Hotel has gone, the Olympian Gardens are a wilderness, but the stone slipway remains, as does the much modified pier.

[Linked Image]
Rock Ferry Slipway and Pier Today


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Re: Ferries at Rock Ferry [Re: uptoncx] #313065
26th Apr 2009 12:14am
26th Apr 2009 12:14am
Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 13,526
Birkenhead
diggingdeeper Offline

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Thankyou Upton


The further you are down the pay scale, the more 'essential' you are when the s--- hits the fan... Sue Farbysmith 2020

Insults are engendered from vulgar minds, like toadstools from a dunghill - Charles Caleb Colton

We don't do charity in Germany, We pay taxes. Charity is a failure of governments' responsibilities - Henning Wehn
Re: Ferries at Rock Ferry [Re: uptoncx] #313070
26th Apr 2009 5:11am
26th Apr 2009 5:11am
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 8,176
tranmere
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bert1 Offline

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tranmere
Excellent Upton


God help us,
Come yourself,
Don't send Jesus,
This is no place for children.


Bertieone.
Re: Ferries at Rock Ferry [Re: bert1] #313099
26th Apr 2009 9:34am
26th Apr 2009 9:34am
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 308
Prenton
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Doctor_Frick Offline
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Prenton
Some good pics there. I hadnt seen the one of te Roal Rock Hotel. You can still find some of the old walls scattered around from the hotel.


Over 5000 years of Wirral History:
Re: Ferries at Rock Ferry [Re: Doctor_Frick] #313100
26th Apr 2009 9:38am
26th Apr 2009 9:38am
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Posts: 5,083
South Wirral
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buddy Offline
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buddy  Offline
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Thanks Upton - very interesting

Re: Ferries at Rock Ferry [Re: buddy] #313134
26th Apr 2009 11:25am
26th Apr 2009 11:25am
Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 9,995
Back of the wardrobe
MissGuided Offline

Awesome
MissGuided  Offline

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Back of the wardrobe
That was great to read. Would be good to see some modern-day pics of the area of the hotel and gardens.



Re: Ferries at Rock Ferry [Re: MissGuided] #313136
26th Apr 2009 11:39am
26th Apr 2009 11:39am
Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 6,642
Wirral
Pete_Robbo Offline

Keep It Real !!
Pete_Robbo  Offline

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wow nice one so cool pictures


[Linked Image]





Re: Ferries at Rock Ferry [Re: MissGuided] #313200
26th Apr 2009 5:33pm
26th Apr 2009 5:33pm
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 308
Prenton
D
Doctor_Frick Offline
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Prenton
Originally Posted by MissGuided
That was great to read. Would be good to see some modern-day pics of the area of the hotel and gardens.


Heres one i took last year

Attached Files

Over 5000 years of Wirral History:
Re: Ferries at Rock Ferry [Re: Doctor_Frick] #313226
26th Apr 2009 7:43pm
26th Apr 2009 7:43pm
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 8,176
tranmere
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bert1 Offline

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tranmere
Another view of Rock Ferry Pier 1939

Attached Files
rfp.jpg (632 downloads)

God help us,
Come yourself,
Don't send Jesus,
This is no place for children.


Bertieone.
Re: Ferries at Rock Ferry [Re: bert1] #313229
26th Apr 2009 7:57pm
26th Apr 2009 7:57pm
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 8,795
Tranmere
Wheels Offline
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Wheels  Offline
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Tranmere
brilliant stuff smile

Re: Ferries at Rock Ferry [Re: uptoncx] #314799
2nd May 2009 12:09pm
2nd May 2009 12:09pm
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 683
Isle of Wight
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bri445 Online Reading

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Isle of Wight
Some good pics I hadn't seen before. Many thanks.

Two photos of 'Upton' at Southampton. Stern view is 1949.

Bri

Attached Files
Scan-090502-0001.jpg (385 downloads)
Scan-090502-0002.jpg (382 downloads)
Re: Ferries at Rock Ferry [Re: ] #315156
3rd May 2009 8:51pm
3rd May 2009 8:51pm
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Posts: 431
oxton
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purfek Offline
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oxton
Originally Posted by Summer01
Yes this is so sad, the peir is a total mess now but some the big houses still stand. You had rock park where all the poeple with money lived and what happened, they built a motorway and rock park is no longer a pleasent place to walk.


A really interesting read, makes me feel really sad that so much has been lost.


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