Historic Shields Ferry to be subject of new documentary - and volunteers are needed to be part of the film

A new documentary is to chart the rich history of the cross-Tyne Shields Ferry service.

The NES team on board the Shields Ferry.
The NES team on board the Shields Ferry.

Sunderland-based New Enterprise Studios (NES) has secured £50,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to shoot the film, which will provide insight into the history and legacy of the iconic ferry crossing.

The project gets underway in 2023 and will look at the history of ferries crossing the Tyne, the development of those services and how they have impacted on local communities.

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The Shields Ferry service today makes almost 25,000 crossings a year, carrying nearly 400,000 passengers. Ferries have crossed the Tyne since the 14th century, and this is the only service that remains.

The NES team on board the Shields Ferry.

A diverse group of participants from across Tyneside will appear on camera, including passengers and crew. Nexus, which owns and operates the Shields Ferry, said it was excited to be taking part in the project.

Nexus head of customer service operations, John Souter, said: “We are looking forward to collaborating on this exciting new documentary project which will tell the fascinating story of the Shields Ferry.

“There has been a ferry crossing the Tyne for more hundreds of years and it has become an iconic part of everyday life in our region. It is part of the fabric of our region.

“The River Tyne has such a rich heritage, and the ferry crossing is undoubtedly a key part of that story. We can’t wait to see the finished documentary programme.”

The NES team on board the Shields Ferry.

Project manager at NES, Wayne Madden, said: “We’re delighted that we’ve received this support thanks to National Lottery players.

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“The Shields Ferry has been a vital link in our region for centuries and it’s a fantastic feeling to know this documentary will help preserve our region's history for future generations. I’m very excited about the prospect of making this documentary and helping to both educate and inform people.”

Trainees will learn skills in journalism, photography, videography and more, with an educational programme also being scheduled to accommodate public workshops and engagement.

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Angel wings and midnight mass with the Bishop of Jarrow
A documentary about the historic Shields Ferry is to be made in 2023.
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Volunteers will also receive appropriate training in archiving, so they can efficiently care for the preservation and legacy of their work.

The public are encouraged to contribute. Those who feel they may have something to share regarding the Ferry and its history, can email [email protected]

The NES team on board the Shields Ferry.
Ferries have crossed the Tyne since 1377.
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The modern version of the centuries-old Shields Ferry. Picture by Kevin Brady.