Pleasure boat operated to St Mary’s Island

Fry's pleasure boats.
Fry's pleasure boats.

William Fry of Tynemouth operated a pleasure boat service from Whitley Bay sands to take visitors to St Mary’s Island.

The ‘Empress’ is at the jetty full of passengers and the ‘Majestic’ is standing by for the next ones around 1930.

Wheeled platforms formed the mobile jetties pushed into the waves to enable passengers to board the motor-yachts.

A story with photographs in the Shields Daily News of April 13, 1931 shows Mr Fry with two assistants repairing and painting the boats ready for the summer season.

William Hutson Fry was born in Cullercoats c1862 and married widow Hannah Gilhespie, nee Ferguson in 1897. Mrs Gilhespie had a son and the couple had only one daughter, Evelyn.

They lived in Hotspur Street in Tynemouth and he had a boatyard in Percy Square.

The Fry family had been boat-builders and boatmen since the 18th Century and Eva Fry became the first woman to be granted a Board of Trade License to carry parties on boat trips to St Mary’s Island and Marsden.

Petrol shortages and closure of beaches during wartime forced Mr Fry out of business. He died in February 1954 and left his estate of £2616 3s 1d to his unmarried daughter.

The Majestic is thought to have been one of the ‘little ships of Dunkirk’, which went to rescue troops from the beaches of France in 1940.

Billy Skinner of Walker bought her in 1962 for £5, restored and added to her and his sons keep her at Ouseburn.

If anyone has further information please ask for Discover at North Shields Customer First Centre on (0191) 643 5270 or email