Cross-Thames ferries are the answer for post-Covid London, say campaigners

Simon Calder
·2-min read
Cross talk: Celia Holman on the ferry jetty in Twickenham (Simon Calder)
Cross talk: Celia Holman on the ferry jetty in Twickenham (Simon Calder)

With Hammersmith Bridge closed indefinitely for essential repairs, campaigners in west London are calling for more ferry links across the River Thames.

The suspension bridge, which opened in 1887, closed last year to motor traffic because of serious cracks in the pedestals. In August it was closed to pedestrians and cyclists as well.

The nearest bridge upstream, Chiswick, is 3km away, while Putney Bridge is 2km downstream.

With tens of thousands of commuters unable to use the Hammersmith crossing, a ferry service has been mooted.

The local authority, Hammersmith & Fulham, has been considering “three detailed proposals for a ferry boat service”.

While a number of craft sail along the Thames, dedicated cross-river ferries are few and far between.

An existing family-run ferry runs across the Thames between Richmond and Twickenham.

Hammerton’s Ferry runs from 10am to 6pm daily, charging £1 for adults to cross the river.

Celia Holman, a trustee of Twickenham Riverside Trust, is calling for many more ferry crossing points along the Thames in London.

“Rather than looking at building more bridges, we should be looking at bringing back ferries,” she said.

“A bridge has enormous costs associated with it. Ferries are low infrastructure, they’re low impact, they support active travel for people who are on foot or on bicycles – all things that are very relevant today.”

Luke Montgomery-Smith, a fellow trustee who has lived all his life on the Thames, said: “Ferries provide a simple solution to a simple problem. It's one of the easiest ways that people can get access to the river affordably.

"It makes people’s day to just hop on and hop over the river even if it's just for two-and-a-half minutes.”

Celia Holman, meanwhile, said: “I would love to see this part of London turn into Venice.

“Ferries have underpinned the infrastructure of this part of the river for centuries, and hopefully for centuries to come.”

Meanwhile, the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, has set up a task force to decide on the future of Hammersmith Bridge.

Read more

Hammersmith Bridge is a great metaphor for our flailing economy

Hammersmith Bridge fully closed following safety concerns amid heatwav

Major London bridge closed indefinitely due to 'critical faults'