top of page

Cambois, Northumberland

Cambois Ferry

Last Updated:

20 May 2024

Cambois, Northumberland

This is a


55.161856, -1.528964

Founded in 


Current status is


Designer (if known):


There is no trace of the ferry today

Well before the footbridge and the Spine Road, the Cambois Ferry was the only way to cross the Wansbeck unless you fancied a trek over to Stakeford to plodge over the river with your trousers rolled up.

The ferry was a primitive rowing boat, with the boatman literally pulling a rope suspended over the mouth of the river. These shots below beautifully detail the operation.

Mr Robert Wheatley propelled this little boat from the 1870s til the early 40s, shown on both shots below. He even operated it during WWI, and became well known to members of the 1/7th Northumberland Fusiliers where they were stationed at Cambois. His ferry was in the defence area, so the unit often dropped by for a natter and a welcome. He sadly passed away in 1943 aged 82, so he was 75 in these shots - a proper grafter.

The small building next door was the waiting room, where both Mr Wheatley would drink his tea between trips and passengers would wait on a busy day. There is a property called the Wansbeck Ferry House just up the lane, where I can only imagine he lived.

The ferry shut up shop in 1941, with Mr Wheatley putting a notice up in the Blyth News. I imagine he fell ill, and retired for the next two years until he died.

Listing Description (if available)

The most striking comparison between the Ordnance Survey maps of the 1850s and 1890s is the route of the River Wansbeck. The river was incredibly silted and therefore have two navigable channels. 2 islands even stood between here and Stakeford with the river running in small channels between. This allowed foot traffic to pass either via a ford or the chain ferry, which will have been particularly useful at high tide. It allowed "dry" access from North Blyth and Cambois to Newbiggin and North Seaton, though much of the original footpath has eroded. The channel was routed as a straight path by the 1890s

You'll also see the old Ship Inn and Ridley Arms Inn. Neither operate and the Ship Inn has been demolished.

There proves to be little difference in the next few decades, and even today only the starkest change is the caravan park and the Spine Road here.

The Ship Inn was still standing though the Ridley Arms became a private residence. The North Seaton Colliery pit village accelerated in size also as the colliery grew, however had not reached this far east.


Route of the Cambois Ferry. The boat house will have stood in the centre of the shot.


The ferry and its rope working in January 1936. Source: NCJ Archive


A close up of Mr Wheatley in action and a passenger looking on. Mr Wheatley will have quite literally pulled the boat along attached to a chain and moored to the bank on the other side. Source: NCJ Archive

bottom of page