Save the Woolwich Ferry: Thousands sign new petition

Over 3,800 people have signed a petition demanding Transport for London saves the Woolwich Ferry, which is threatened by its new river crossing proposals.

Greenwich Council supported closing the ferry in its submission on a planned new road bridge at Gallions Reach, and TfL has recently canvassed opinions on whether or not the 50-year-old vessels and pontoons should be replaced with new ships and structures.

Notably, in publicising the recent consultation into the Silvertown Tunnel, TfL claimed those who backed a revamped Woolwich Ferry were backing a new river crossing, exaggerating support for the transport authority’s new road plans.

Closing the crossing would remove the problems of lorries queuing at the ferry approaches in Woolwich and North Woolwich and open up more riverside land for development.

But regardless of the flaws or merits in TfL’s road crossing plans, closing the Woolwich Ferry would send more HGVs to the Blackwall Tunnel (and potentially a Silvertown Tunnel, which TfL admits would lead to a 20% increase in traffic on its approaches) – it would certainly be simpler for lorries to reach there than any new bridge at Gallions Reach – and would remove an alternative option for crossing the Thames.

Closing the ferry would also remove a part of the history of Woolwich – TfL and its predecessors have been legally obliged to provide a free ferry here since 1889, on the basis that Woolwich taxpayers (on both sides of the river) had paid for free crossings for west London.

Local politicians have generally kept their support for the ferry’s closure quiet – it would have shut two years ago if Ken Livingstone’s Thames Gateway Bridge had been built.

Any move to shut (or charge for) the ferry would need to be endorsed by parliament, so I wonder if any of Greenwich & Woolwich’s general election candidates will back the Save the Woolwich Ferry campaign?


  1. Putting nostalgia aside for a moment – and I was one of the many children who used it to cross to the park in N Woolwich, I still use the ferry once a week. I would NOT be saddened to see its closure. A fair percentage of the times I use it, there is only one ferry running and if there is fog…forget it. The arguments for its need in the event of tunnel/bridge closures doesn’t hold water for me as each ferry can only carry 25 cars or a mixture of cars /lorrys. With two ferrys operating and taking about 15 minutes per crossing, thats only 200 cars per hour. Im pretty sure that a darn sight more are catered for via tunnel /bridge. In addition, the traffic chaos that queuing vehicles cause around the roundabout is farcical. Buses cannot get thru and on several occasions, I have seen police and ambulance gridlocked.

    So, in spite of the fact that were the ferry to close, the £6M/year contract that Greenwich pays the operator to cease and the saving probably never being reallocated sensibly, I would not mourn its closure. Apart from being an anachronism, it is not fit for purpose as a meaningful alternative to tunnels/bridges.

  2. Larry is quite correct. Woolwich Ferry has made a wonderful contribution to East London. but it is no longer fit for purpose as a transport link. Buses are frequently delayed by traffic queueing for the ferry, and such are the delays that both cars and trucks will not take any longer going via the new Gallions Reach bridge.
    We need the new bridge NOW! Or, failing that, a new ferry – but not in the town centre.

  3. Larry and Ken are so wrong! We – and by “we” I mean the many many pedestrians and cyclists who use the crossing regularly, even daily , and who do not own cars – need the ferry and are happy to have it in the town centre. Do not blame the ferry for the congestion – that’s the fault of selfish drivers, who actually have a choice of several other crossings. Yes please let trucks and cars use any new crossing – I bet the Gallions Reach road bridge will not be welcoming to pedestrians and cyclists. What the ferry needs is investment – not closure.

  4. TfL reps at the Gallions Bridge roadshow I attended were keen to inform me that the intention is for lorries – particularly haz-chem – to use the Silvertown link (just one of many contradictory statements made, in the desperation to tell me what they thought I wanted to hear). At present, most people in Plumstead do not realise just how much extra road traffic (and not originating locally, either) will be passing through, let alone the likely threat to our beloved woodlands and commons – although TfL is already aware that there is likely to be a backlash, once the inhabitants realise they have been duped, if I have understood comments to the Parliamentary Transport Committee correctly. Even fewer Plumstead people will be aware that the Woolwich Master Plan envisages a re-routing of the South Circular away from Woolwich, upon cessation of the ferry service and the building if the bridge. We need improved and more public transport links, not fewer.

  5. John
    The congestion is the result of poor planning and unsupported infrastructure. The convenience it affords you and other cyclists does not outweigh the inconvenience it causes large numbers of motorists, goods vehicles, buses and emergency vehicles. As Roy say: you have the foot tunnel – and thats something I use if necessary.

  6. Objection . I used the Ferry everyday , the congestion is due to selfish drivers , not the Ferry ! We must keep it !

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