Birthday party as ferry hits age of 40

Shields Ferry 40th anniversary. Nexus Andy Bairstow.
Shields Ferry 40th anniversary. Nexus Andy Bairstow.

A BIRTHDAY party was thrown on Friday for the Shields Ferry.

The service is now 40, having been carrying commuters and sightseers between North Shields and South Tyneside since 1972.

Transport operator Nexus held a cake-cutting ceremony aboard a cross-Tyne ferry to mark the occasion.

Ferry manager Carol Timlin said: “We’re delighted to mark 40 years of operating the Shields Ferry.

“It’s a fantastic landmark for us to reach.

“The cross-Tyne service is a vital part of everyday life in this area and has served the communities of North and South Shields for many years.

“People love travelling on the ferry. It’s iconic.”

Two ferries are used to operate the seven-minute route, the Pride of the Tyne and the Spirit of the Tyne.

The service carries around 500,000 people per year following steady rises in annual passenger numbers since 2008.

Carol added: “Over the last 40 years, we’ve seen a lot of changes, what with the transformed ferry landings and the two new ferries that have entered the service.

“We’ve also seen huge changes on the Tyne as well, but the ferry has always been there.

“We carry people to places of work, people use it for going shopping, and we see more and more tourists on board every passing year.”

Among its best-known customers is Wallsend-born pop star Sting.

The Police frontman, alias Gordon Sumner, hired a ferry in 2010 for a trip from Newcastle to the sea to show his US playwright pal Brian Yorkey some of the sights the Tyne has to offer.