Go to the Labyrinth of East London Lore

The ferry
and the ferry tokens

Keith Tankard
Updated: 14 October 2009
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A ferry was introduced at East London in April 1875.

Initially a fee of 3d. was set for anybody crossing between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m., and a shilling for night crossings.

In May 1877, however, the Municipal Board decided to introduce books of paper tickets to relieve the passengers of the necessity of carrying money and, at the same time, the fare was dropped from 3d. to 1d. per crossing if a coupon was used.

The continual production of the paper tickets, however, proved costly and so in February 1880 the Council decided to mint bronze ferry tokens which it could then re-cycle.

The introduction of the ferry coins -- minted in East London by Wetzlar and Hammerschlag -- clearly had nothing to do with a shortage of the standard copper penny currency, as has been stated in various editions of East London's Daily Dispatch. See, for example, Dispatch, 17.6.1980 and 18.3.1987.

Indeed, when passengers paid cash for the trip, they still had to use the 3d. -- a silver coin and not the copper penny -- until October 1882 when the fare was reduced to 1d. for day crossings.

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