Last Updated:

3 Jun 2020

High Ferry, Blyth

Blyth, Northumberland

55.133687, -1.515341

This is a

Ferry

Founded in 

19th Century

Current status is

Closed

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There is no ferry in service anymore on the River Blyth.

'There has been a ferry at Blyth for many years. The Low Ferry of 1850 and 1873, and the High Ferry, both let to tennants for £5 to £10. In 1873 the Blyth Harbour and Dock Co. took over. The High Ferry had a bad reputation for unseaworthiness and was frequently overloaded.

A steam driven chain ferry - the High Ferry - was introduced in 1890 from Cowpen Square to Cambois. The ferry had previously been a rowing boat and was the site of an ancient ford. The ferry was towed across the river by means of the chains. It was used by miners at Cambois pit, workers at Hughes Bolckow shipbreakers yard and power station employees. A direct ferry also operated from the Nelson Inn on Blyth quayside to North Blyth which operated day and night. A later chain ferry carried passengers, bikes and four vehicles and there were two cabins at either side of the space used by vehicles. When the Kitty Brewster bridge opened in 1961 the vehicle ferry ceased to carry vehicles. In 1964 the chain ferry was withdrawn and replaced by a motor ferry, Blyth Harbour Commisioners No 5. The High Ferry operated on the site of an old ford and a rowing boat later ferried people across the river, and then a raft.

There were once proposals for a swing bridge over Blyth harbour near Cowpen Square. The motor ferry was taken off in 1997 and replaced by a bus service via the Kitty Brewster bridge to North Blyth, a six mile detour, though it only ran on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.'
- Retrieved from Bridges on the Tyne

As seen above, the High Ferry was in operation during the 1890s. At this point it was steam driven, utilising the coal it was surrounded by to ferry people over the river to Cambois. The ferry doesnt seem to have been in operation mid century, likely due to the condition of the river. As can be seen it was extremely boggy and it was probably dredged later in time to allow ships up the river.

In this edition, the route of the High Ferry can be seen with the landing stage at Battleship Wharf. It seems awfully awkward to get to Cambois unless the staithes were high enough to allow a crossing underneath them. The chain ferry only continued until the 60s when it replaced with a motor ferry. When the Kitty Brewster bridge opened that was replaced by a bus service, running intermittently through the week.

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Photograph of the chain link Steam Ferry across the River Blyth. The image is likely taken from the Blyth side as the Cambois Staithes can be seen across the river dominating the skyline.

Retrieved from Bridges on the Tyne

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Photograph of the Chain Ferry in 1960. This atmospheric scene is a perfect demonstration of the importance of Blyth as a shipping and trading port. The Cambois Power Station chimneys can be seen in the background.

Retrieved from Wikimedia

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Remains of the Ferry Landing at North Blyth. It is a sad sight in comparison with the images previous.

Retrieved from George Hurrell on Geograph

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