The Mersey Ferry operates the route between Liverpool and the Wirral Peninsula and operates either a direct route or a River Explorer cruise daily.
The history of ferries on the route stretches back to the 12th century when the monks at the Benedictine Priory would charge passengers a small fee to row them across the river. The Priory was given a royal charter in 1330, which granted the Priory and its successors to always have…
…”the right of ferry there…for men, horses and goods, with leave to charge reasonable tolls”
The rights changed to private ownership in in the 1500s, when sailing ships were used, however due to the weather conditions in Liverpool making the Mersey prone to thick fogs, the frequency of the ferry service decreased.
The rise in commercial activity in the area meant ensured increased use of the river to transport both passengers and goods, and by the mid-18th century there were 5 ferry ports on the Wirral side of the river.
By the end of the 19th century, the ferry service had to compete with the Mersey Railway Tunnel, but was still carrying over 44,000 per day. They took a brief break from service during the First World War, where they were used as troop ships on the naval raid at Zeebrugge. Due to their work in the war, they were allowed to use “Royal” in their name.
In the 20th century, the ferries were carrying 30 million passengers a year in the 1950s, but this number fell drastically by the 70s. This slump in use of the ferries continued until into the 80s and 90s. Since the 90s, the focus has moved away from commuter traffic and more towards to tourist needs, and today the ferry carries passengers across the Mersey and also the Manchester Ship Canal.
For full details of the cruises offered by the Mersey Ferries, you can visit their website, where you will also find sailing times and prices.
The Ferry was immortalised in the Gerry and the Pacemakers’ song “Ferry Cross the Mersey” in 1964, and I’m sure anyone making a crossing can’t help but think of this tune when they do. In case you haven’t heard it though, here it is…….
In their time, the Mersey Ferries have chalked up some impressive facts and figures, here are some of the best:
If you’re staying travelling to or from Liverpool, there are a number of great hotels in the city centre which will give you a great base to explore not only the Mersey Ferries, but also all of the other exciting sites and attractions in the city. We stayed at the DeVere Village Liverpool, a modern city centre hotel with loads of really great details and some of the comfiest beds you’ll ever have the pleasure of sleeping on. After a day on the river (depending on the weather!) the Village Hotel will let you relax back on dry land.