Saturday, 13 May 2017

Crossing the Thames at Woolwich on the Will Crooks

This is one of the old ferries which plied the crossing taking thousands to work and not a few just to see north Woolwich.

The crossing is still one of those things I like to do although it is usually just for the pleasure of travelling across the water.

This was the Will Crooks built in 1933 and replaced thirty years later by the current fleet.

Now this is not going to be the story of the ferry, that is easily available, instead it will just be a short reflection on how much I enjoy using it.

At one time it was something you did just because it was free, and offered up the opportunity to watch a busy river at work.

No one seemed to mind that I went backwards and forwards often not even bothering to get off.

It didn’t matter that the rain might drive in across the water and that the wind could cut through even the warmest of clothes.

But I grew up, had more important things to do and only rarely even bothered to clock its existence as I waited for buses at the stop almost opposite the terminal.

And then one disastrous day travelling back from Kent and missing the M25 I realized were heading for Eltham, past our old house at Well Hall and it just made perfect sense to carry on over Shooters Hill and fall down into Woolwich and make the river crossing by the ferry.

I had forgotten the long queues but the short journey with its views across the Thames were well worth it.

I rather wish I could have done the trip on the old Will Crooks if only to have experienced crossing under steam.

Still the current fleet of ferries does the business and that is good enough for me.

Picture; courtesy of Kristina Bedford from her book Woolwich Through Time, 2014 and from the collection of Andrew Simpson

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