Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Messing about on the River

Tilbury to Gravesend Passenger Ferry

by Lisa Chapman

“When the weather is fine
You know it’s the time
For messing about on the river”

We all remember the song and as the weather is fine and we do have the time, Yourthurrock know exactly where to head with the cameras to test the water. The Tilbury to Gravesend Ferry crosses a narrow strip of the Thames and can be found next to the Cruise Terminal at the other side of the iron bridge. Gravesend (or Gravesham as it is also known) looks so close that you feel as though you could reach out and touch the spire of St Georges, the church famous for watching over the burial place and statue of Princess Pocahontas but that is another story.

The ferry is actually a small diesel powered vessel which goes by the name of “Duchess M”. She was built in 1956 and was one of the last three traditional Portsmouth to Gosport ferries. She was replaced in 1966 but kept as a reserve vessel and also used for seasonal harbour tours then sold to Thames Pleasure Tours in 1974 where she stayed until 1991 when she spent 6 years on the Tyne. In 1997 she came home and was used for local Southend sea cruises until 2002 when she was sold for use on the Tilbury to Gravesend run where she remains to this day.

The short journey across the river takes no longer than 10 minutes and a return ticket costs a mere £3 with the “Duchess M” sailing every half an hour between 6am and 7pm Mondays to Fridays. She deftly dodges her way around the other traffic on the Thames ranging from gargantuan merchant vessels to tiny pleasure crafts demanding respect in the process.

Gravesend itself is worth a visit and this week is holding its annual “Big 7 Festival” with daily events including street theatre, music, art, food, sport and a summer regatta. You could also enjoy a quite snack and drink in one of the riverside pubs and watch the world go by. So why not board the “Duchess M”, enjoy the salty air and have a fun day out! As you can see, we did!

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