From Roader's Digest: The SABRE Wiki
|From :||North Woolwich|
|Transport for London|
|Serco on behalf of Transport for London|
The Woolwich Ferry, from Woolwich to North Woolwich, is the eastern Crossing linking London's North and South Circular roads. It was first operated in 1889 by the London County Council.
Classified in 1923 as the A117, it was operated by the LCC until 1965 when control was transferred to the Greater London Council. After the abolition of the GLC, the operation was transferred to Greenwich Council who ran it until the end of September 2008. Today it is operated by Serco on behalf of Transport for London.
The crossing is completely free and operated by a fleet of three ferries, though a maximum of only two are in service at any one time. At quiet times and weekends, the service is reduced to one boat. The crossing takes about five minutes in normal conditions, but waiting times can be considerably in excess of this, especially if the Blackwall Tunnel or Dartford Crossing are closed. In those circumstances, waiting times of over two hours are not uncommon. The three present boats, named "John Burns", "James Newman" and "Ernest Bevin" were built in Dundee and began service in 1963 with the new curved piers completed two years later.
There are vehicle waiting areas at each end, initially on the piers out into the river, and for longer queues vehicles on the south shore are diverted into a queuing area on the west side of the approach pier. On the north shore the longer approach is divided into queuing lanes, with local traffic on a separate carriageway alongside. At times of disruption there is still a likelihood of queuing vehicles blocking back and disrupting local traffic.
Major flood protection was provided at each terminal in the 1980s, with large sliding floodgates which can be extended across the approach road when exceptional tides are expected, typically at times when the Thames Barrier (just upstream) has to be closed as well. The ferry service has to be suspended at such times.
Substantial investment was made in 2014-5 in the linkspans at each end, which had their machinery replaced and uprated.
An unusual but longstanding tradition is a summer day cruise on the Thames for disabled children; the vessel is dressed overall with flags in the maritime way, and the ambulances with the children are driven directly onto the car deck, where various attractions are also placed.