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Humber Estuary : River Ouse : River Trent

Steam navigation on the Humber dates back to 1814. John Robertson, engineer of the pioneering PS Comet of 1812 in the Clyde had PS Caledonia and PS Humber built at Dundee in 1814 to house his engines. The ships were operated on his own account for eighteen months between Hull on the Humber estuary and Selby on the River Ouse and Gainsborough on the River Trent, the two rivers joining to form the Humber. Paddle steamers then became common sight on both the Trent and the Ouse

The direct ferry crossing from Yorkshire to Lincolnshire was inaugurated in 1820 from Hull to New Holland by PS Magna Carta. Railway ownership of the ferry dates from 1845, and after Britain's railways were amalgamated into major regional groupings in 1923, the service came under the control of the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) and survived until the opening of the Humber Bridge

River Ouse Operators

River Trent Operators

Humber Estuary :  Hull-New Holland Ferry

Above : Lincoln Castle at Hull in 1959. Photo by kind courtesy of Ian Stenton

Lincoln Castle was the last paddle steamer ordered for the Hull-New Holland service by the London & North Eastern Railway. Unusually, she was delivered during World War II and from a Clydeside yard (Wm Denny & Bros). Her design was modelled closely on that of her two earlier fleetmates, Tattershall Castle and Wingfield Castle, both built at Hartlepool but with one major visible difference. Lincoln Castle differed considerably with regard to her engines being of the more traditional "push" type, thus having the boiler ahead of the engines and the funnel forward of the paddle shaft axis.

The sisters Wingfield Castle and Tattershall Castle, built in 1934, proved to be successful steamers, with a large open main deck aft which was used for cars, cargo and cattle. Their success prompted the building of the similarly-shaped Lincoln Castle and deferred discussion about the construction of a bridge across the estuary. Paddle Steamers were especially suitable for this crossing due to their shallow draught. The Humber was not only tidal but the sands of the estuary shifted continuously making crossings hazardous and requiring skippers to have a very good understanding of the waters.

A parliamentary bill giving powers for the construction of the bridge was passed in 1959 but the final government go-ahead did not come until ten years later. Construction finally started in 1973. The bridge was opened in 1981, spelling the death knell for the last remaining ferry, the diesel-electric paddler Farringford which had been transferred from the Isle of Wight

Excursions were also scheduled, but restricted to Sunday afternoons from Hull in 1964 and withdrawn totally after the 1967 season. Occasional excursions, including charters, continued to take place, particulary with Lincoln Castle

Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway Co (from 1897 Great Central Railway Co and from 1923 London & North Eastern Railway Co)

Magna Charta (1873-1924)
Manchester (1876-1913)

Paddlers introduced between 1889 and 1923

Grimsby (1889-1923)
Cleethorpes (1903-1933,
sold to Radcliffe Shipping Co. for use on the Firth of Forth. Scrapped in 1935 after an unsuccessful season in 1934)
Brocklesby (1912-1934,
 sold to Radcliffe Shipping Co. for use on the Firth of Forth. Scrapped in 1936 after an unsuccessful season in 1935)
Killingholme (1912-1940)
scrapped in 1945 after war service
Frodingham (1928-1936)
built in 1895 as Dandie Dinmont for Clyde service

Paddlers introduced by the London & North Eastern Railway (1923-1947)

Tattershall Castle (1934-1972)
Wingfield Castle (1934-1974)
Lincoln Castle (1940-1978)

Diesel-electric paddle car ferry transferred from British Rail's Lymington-Yarmouth ferry route
Farringford (1974-1981)  
(Independently powered paddle wheels)

Above : Not an obvious paddler - but Farringford was an unusual example of this means of propulsion. Photo by kind courtesy of Kevin Hoggett

Above : A fine example of integrated transport at the time. A British Rail diesel train meets PS Lincoln Castle at New Holland pier in 1976. Photo by kind courtesy of Kevin Hoggett

Above : Lincoln Castle in 1959 by Ian Stenton, at Hull's Corporation Pier


Ferries Across the Humber : The story of the Humber ferries and the last coal-burning paddle steamers in regular service in Britain
By Kirk Martin
Published by Pen & Sword Books Ltd  
ISBN 978-1-78383-102-9
The definitive, detailed and copiously illustrated history of the subject by an author who spent time working on the ferries.  The essential reference on the subject

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