WALNEY ISLAND FERRY SERVICE

(aka: Old Wana's Friend)

See also: Vickerstown

When the Furness Railway Company took ownership of Barrow Harbour in 1863 all Walney channel fords where in full time use. Furness Railway then began work on the Barrow dock system, dredging Walney Channel to allow access to Devonshire Dock they removed all of the crossings south of North Scale village, placing many a difficulty on the Walneyites. Any petition that the Walney folk formed had to be placed before the Parish of Dalton-in-Furness as the 'newly' formed borough of Barrow-in-Furness did not include Walney-Island, which remained so until 1872, after which in 1873 a petition was also placed upon them going a little further than the last by requesting a 'bridge'...

After much debate and petitioning with still no resolve Walney land owners gave notice to the Furness Railway Company that 'if they did not restore the original footpaths across the Walney Channel they would be claiming compensation for the land/s affected'. The Furness Railway Company after much contemplation decided that a steam ferry would be made available as this would prove to be a cheaper option than the replacement of the footpaths.

Steam Passenger Ferry No1

 

Steam Passenger Ferry No2

 

A Chain ferry to link Barrow with Walney Island, which was  designed by W.F. Pettigrew commenced service in 1878 to the delight of the many Walney folk and also to the Barrovian's making their way to the island for recreational ventures. Although the ferry went onto serve the island well for a further 25 years until 1903, after only it's first ten years of operation in 1888 the Walneyites still demanded a bridge as their preference of choice, again petitioning the council only to be rejected yet again.

In 1901 an offer was made to the Furness Railway Company to allow the purchase of the ferry, which was promptly rejected, with the statement from the Furness Railway Company stating that no permanent bridge or crossing should be permitted unless it was to cross the channel north of the graving dock, by which time Vickers Sons & Maxim had purchased the Isle of Walney Estates Company and had begun construction of their north and south Vickerstown estates. Due to the increase of Walney's residents a new larger ferry was required and therefore replaced the older steam ferry in 1903, but not before 1902 when Vickers Sons & Maxim commissioned their own rival ferry service to aid their workforce, unofficially naming it the 'Mudlark'. (see pictures below).

ferry_steps_01.jpg (100389 bytes)    ferry_steps_02.jpg (86370 bytes)

Walney's second steam ferry was purchased from the Furness Railway as recompense for the building of Walney Bridge in 1908 by Barrow-in-Furness council and later sold on to company on the south coast to see out the rest of it's useful life. Contrary to Walney folklore, there is no documented or  illustrative evidence of No2's alleged reuse on the Southampton to Woolston  (River Itchen) service, whose fleet at that time consisted of a vessel  in reserve (No. 7 of 1892) plus two recently built vessels in parallel operation  (No.8 of 1896 & No.9 of 1900). These were then respectively replaced by  No.10 in 1928, No.11 in 1962 and No.12 in 1964, all being of cable driven type. Therefore throughout this entire period there  would never have arisen any requirement for an additional craft, especially  one equipped with chain drive in lieu of cable. Evidence supports that Walney No.1 did become a  houseboat in Hampshire until the 1970's when her remains were buried  below a quayside extension. Walney No.2 also went to Hampshire and was used initially in  connection with naval experiments. She never operated in her intended role as a ferry, therefore it seems that both of the Walney Ferries are long gone.
 

 

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