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But the ferry was once a workhorse and can't shrug off her past so easily. In the 17th century, Daniel Defoe was shipwrecked aboard her before being carried ashore by "some honest Lancashire clown".
Dickens liked the ferry "for the air". Her bread and butter was the most direct passage between Liverpool and the Wirral peninsula, as the gull flies.
In the summer of , she carried more than two million people from Liverpool to New Brighton, Merseyside's answer to the Sussex Riviera. But foreign package holidays did for the Costa del Scouse.
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In , only , made the crossing, and the service was eventually discontinued. The revenants of the brief sunlit boom crowd the Wallasey shore, just as the ghosts of other industries - shipbuilding, the docks - do elsewhere in the estuary. The tape-recording acknowledges the former fairground where a great tower once stood, taller than its upstart pretender along the coast at Blackpool.
As a result of German mining activity at the outbreak of war in September , an urgent need arose to protect the waters of the Thames Estuary from small naval craft aircraft sowing magnetic mines. The initial answer was the placing of four Naval Sea Forts, each armed with two 3. Each of these Forts was manned by men and three officers with crews rotating every six weeks to shore bases at Harwich for the Essex forts and Sheerness for the Kent Forts. The towers were built at the Red Lion Wharf site in Gravesend, towed down river and lowered by hand winch onto the sea bed, each tower taking up to eight hours to be placed in position.
The first set of towers were placed at the Nore between May and July The maintenance crews were in occupation from May until April when it was decided to remove the guns and abandon the Forts.
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The Army seemed more concerned with the loss of equipment, two Bofors guns, a 3. Subsequently in the Nore group of towers were removed and scrapped.
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Fortunately, no one was on board at the time and there were no casualties. Thus, Shivering Sand Fort today consists of only six towers. This left the Redsand and Shivering Sand Forts remaining out of the three sets and following a period of occupation by the Radio Pirates from to the Forts were sanitized by the Admiralty who removed access ladders and catwalks to deny people access. Three forts were built in the Thames estuary, between May and December