In August 1905, Tyne Improvement Commission accepted a tender from Messrs Cox & Company of Falmouth for the construction of two ferry boats for passenger traffic from Market Place, North Shields to South Shields.
A compensation claim for £400 for late delivery was imposed.
In 1906, the twin screw Penny Ferry boat Thomas Richardson and her sister ship U A Ritson commenced service.
The boats were named for prominent members of the Tyne Improvement Commission, Thomas Richardson, chairman of dredging and river works and Utrick Alexander Ritson, chairman of the finance committee.
The 1908 newspaper reports and trade directories show that George Emmerson, of 3 Coxon’s Court, Milne Street, South Shields, was captain of the Penny Ferryboats, and the bridgeman at North Shields landing stage was William Nesbitt, of 10 Shakespeare Street.
A valentine postcard showing a view of the Thomas Richardson, was sent following a trip on the Penny Ferry to South Shields after “the Zepps had been there”.
According to Captain Joseph Morris, late of RAF, in his book ‘German Air Raids on Great Britian 1914-18’, published in 1969, zeppelin raids from Airship L10, flown by Kapitanleutnant Hirsch from Nordholz, destroyed the scenic railway near Harton Colliery Staithes in South Shields on June 15, 1915.
Hirsch was apparently clearly able to see factory lights and blast furnace fires, enabling him to target North Eastern Marine Engineering Works, Wallsend and Hebburn collieries, Palmer’s Jarrow works, from which 17 died and 72 were injured, Cookson’s antimony works and Pochin’s chemical works.
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