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A ferry service across the River Thames has existed for centuries, operated by private "watermen" in rowing boats and latterly the concession was owned by the town authorities on either side of the river. Paddle steamers were introduced in 1855. The London, Tilbury & Southend Railway Company purchased the concession in 1862 and the link remained railway-owned until 1984.

Tilbury  (1855-1904, renamed Sir Walter Raleigh in 1862)
Built by J Henderson & Son at Renfrew
128.9 ft : 180 GRT
Engine : Oscillating 2 x 26.5 in x 33 in
Originally built for the Tilbury-Gravesend Ferry Co (Wm S Andrews)

Earl of Essex   (1855-1906)

Earl of Leicester  (1855-1876)

Thames (1882-1913)
Built in 1868 at Seacombe, Birkenhead
106 ft : 125 GRT
Engine : Oscillating 2 x 34 in x 42 in by Fawcett, Preston
First operated as a Mersey ferry

Tilbury (1883-1922)
Built in 1883 by J & K Smit at Kinderdijk, Netherlands
140 ft : 269 GRT
Double ended

Historical database