Shields Ferry skipper calls it a day after 30 years

Tom Bennett
Tom Bennett

A ferry skipper who has sailed two and a half times around the world - without leaving the Tyne - is mooring up for good

Tom Bennett is retiring after 30 years at the helm of Shields Ferry.

For the last three decades the 63–year–old has taken passengers back and forth between South and North Shields ferry landings.

Each full trip is about one mile, and - when added all together - the ferry skipper has been on quite a journey.

He said: “We sat the re trying to work how many miles I’d covered one day, it’s about half a mile across the river and then half a mile back, times 35 trips a day, seven days a week.

“It works out at about two-and-a-half times around the world.”

Mr Bennett, who is married to Carol,and lives in Westoe, South Shields, has had many memorable trips over his career.

But one of his most favourite was when Princess Anne launched Spirit of the Tyne in 2007.

The father-of-one said: “She was very lovely and her lady in waiting was very nice too. At the time it was like a new start for us all with the new Ferry.

“I think that was definitely one of my most memorable moments.”

Mr Bennett joined the ferry service, which is operated by Nexus, after previously working for Newcastle-based Stephenson Clarke Shipping.

There he worked as an able seaman who collected rubbish from the banks of the Tyne before taking it back out to sea.

One of the main things Me Bennett loved about his ferry job was the fresh air.

He said: I think I’ll be missing the fresh air really, as I know a lot of people are stuck in office. I know for a for a fact there will be about 200 people for my job when i leave, everyone wants to be a ferry skipper.”

His final working day will be May 7, but Mr Bennett won’t be taking it too easy - and he’ll be making sure he still spends plenty of time outdoors

He added I am going to be a part time gardener, I have a lovely allotment round the corner to where I live, so I will be there every day.”