The Forgotten Highway
THE INSTITUTION OF CIVIL ENGINEERS.
(Paper No. 1622) “ The Thames Steam Ferry between Wapping and Rotherhithe.”By Frederic Eliot Duckham, M. Inst. C.E.
In olden times, when the Wapping district was submerged, and the river Thames between Ratcliff and Rotherhithe was broad and shallow, a ford existed there; but upon the Wapping marsh being reclaimed, the river deepened, fording became inconvenient, and the “ancient horse ferry,” referred to in the Thames Archway Company’s Act as occupying the site of their intended tunnel and as to which Lord Tavistock and others obtained an Act of Parliament in 1755, is supposed to have been established as a substitute for this more ancient causeway. This ferry was within a few hundred yards of the new ferry about to be described During the Roman occupation of Britain, a horse ferry existed between Dowgate and Southwark, and a similar ferry near where Lambeth Bridge has within late years been built. The former was on the main line of the Watling Street, and the latter on a loop diverging from the main road near Hampstead, and rejoining it at Newington Butts. The priory of St. Mary Overie (St. Mary of the Ferry) was founded by the daughter and heiress of a Dowgate ferryman. This ferry existed until the Priors built the first London Bridge. The Lambeth and Westminster ferry was used until the opening of Westminster Bridge, in 1750, at which time it was one of the most frequented passages over the Thames.
This ferry was from time immemorial the property of the Archbishops of Canterbury, who received £20 per annum rental there-
In 1821 The Poplar and Greenwich Ferry Company was incorporated, to make and maintain roads between the then recently opened City canal and North Greenwich, and ferry-
The Author knows of no record of the employment of a ferryboat before the year 1023; but, cattle ferries were doubtless in use during previous ages, and they are now to be found in all parts of the world, much to the profit and convenience of most of the great communities which are divided by rivers or waterways. The astonishing exception is London, with nearly half its enormous population, all its docks, most of its heavy trade and commerce, east of the Monument. Until now it has been without any efficient means of conveying vehicles across the Thames below London Bridge.