Last Day of the ‘old’ Renfrew Ferry – mid 1980s

A ferry between Renfrew and Glasgow has operated from ‘Ferry Green’ in Renfrew for over 200 years. Originally it operated further east up the river. There are documents suggesting that a ferry service existed between Renfrew and the city as far back as 1614 and the people of Renfrew have had the ‘right of ferry’ since medieval times.

Its original port was housed where Braehead shopping centre now stands. The move to its present location was on the request of one of Glasgow’s most eminent tobacco lords – Alexander Speirs. He had decided to build a huge mansion at King’s Inch and found the Southern Crossing to run through his property, so he asked for it to be moved half a mile west. As way of recompense, Speirs offered to build two quays, a ferry house and a new road.

The first ferries carried horses, carriages and people and were operated by a set of pulley ropes or chains fixed at either bank and were hauled by hand before machines were built to do a similar job in the 1800s. The advent of steam power meant the ferries grew bigger and more important to the people of the city. Ferry green transformed into a large public park where many people met.

The height of shipbuilding on The Clyde meant that the Renfrew Ferry became hugely important for transporting workers and those wishing to see the large vessels – and it began running round the clock 7 days a week. On Sunday 8th March, 1936, when the new Queen Mary was docked at Clydebank an old record shows that 21,386 passengers, 946 motor cars, 141 motorcycles, 819 bicycles and 67 vans made the crossing.

The Ferry Inn, Renfrew

The decline of the shipyards, the opening of the Erskine Bridge and the Clyde Tunnel all had an impact on the ferry services on the Clyde, however, the Renfrew Ferry, although reduced, still runs to this day. The Southern Ferry House also remains in use as the popular local pub, The Ferry Inn. Why not treat yourself to a wee bit of Glasgow History and take a ferry ride from Renfrew to Yoker and maybe grab a pint or a pub lunch at the Ferry Inn on the way back!
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