The Shieldsman ferry leaves the Tyne after 30 years service

THE 30-year-old Shields Ferry - The Shieldsman - left the Tyne on Sunday(February 15) after more than 30 years service on the river, during which she carried more than ten million passengers.

The Shieldsman was taken out of service in 2007 after the arrival of the 1.9m new ferry, Spirit of the Tyne.

She has been sold by Nexus to a private owner based on the south coast, and is expected to become either a houseboat or floating bar.

The new owner of The Shieldsman, who is wishes to remain anonymous, piloted her out of the mouth of the Tyne for the voyage to Portsmouth after getting a sufficient window of good weather to make the trip safely.

Director General of Nexus, Bernard Garner, said: "The Shieldsman has been an outstanding vessel for over 30 years, so it brought a bit of a lump to the throat seeing her leave the Tyne for the last time on Sunday.

"Since she entered service in 1976 and in the 30 years we used her for crossing the Tyne she has carried over ten million people.

"The Shieldsman also stood out for her reliability. Even today her engines are still in great condition.

"I know that all of our ferry staff are going to miss working on board The Shieldsman but everyone is pleased that she is going to a new owner and she now won't have to be scrapped."

The Shieldsman entered service on the River Tyne in 1976. Spirit of the

Tyne, which entered service in May 2007, was the fourth ferry commissioned following the Freda Cunningham in 1972, The Shieldsman in 1976 and Pride of the Tyne in 1993.

Nexus, formerly the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive, took over the operation of the Shields Ferry in 1972.