The Ferry


Whenever the brothers, Tim and Matthew got together, reminiscences from their childhood 50 to 60 years ago usually surfaced. The favourite of these is the day trips to Hull, and, to be specific, the journey.

This was a complex adventure starting with the train. Waiting for the train to arrive in the chilly, empty waiting room, caused these boys to speak in whispers. The tiny fireplace, always laid but never lit, only added to the spooky atmosphere as they swung their knee-socked legs from the unforgiving wooden benches around the shiny green walls.

When the huge train belched into the tiny station, they rushed to board. Although not much warmer than the waiting room, the seats were spring and covered with prickly moquette fabric, that was not too comfortable for small boys to kneel on as they looked out of the window at the passing fields.

The excitement of the guard’s shrill whistle, and the journey began- Thornton Abbey, Goxhill, and then the destination of New Holland, the ferry port for travellers to Hull.

The Pier in Hull

The boys’ great grandmother had followed this exact route, her huge basket on her arms to sell her exquisite home-made butter in Hull market, but they think nothing of this as   they clump and clatter down the wooden ramp to the waiting ferry. The menacing brown waters of the Humber far below was both fearful and exciting and the gently rocking Tattershall Castle’s deck seemed secure and welcoming.

The brisk air of the deck held no appeal, not when a boy could kneel on the observation seats, peer over the sparkling brass rail at the magnificent steam engine below that propelled the ferry across the river.

There were two railway men, their grimy overalls contrasting sharply with the  tons of brass and iron moving parts they tended with such loving care. The thrill of seeing the massive wheels turn, slowly at first, then at full throttle, made the 15 minute journey seem all too short.

Steam Boat


Now the boys had to wait for the return journey home.

These days the amazing Humber Bridge takes its traffic streaming over its arc in no time at all, providing a very different experience for the children who cross Lincolnshire to Yorkshire today.





The images are from Google.

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Janet Glasser lives in Cambourne.


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