Next stage of MV Snowdrop ferry works to begin next month

The next phase of work to refurbish a historic Mersey Ferry will get underway next month.

In a bid to extend the lifespan of the almost 65-year-old MV Snowdrop, the long-serving vessel was placed into dry dock. It is hoped the work could add at least another seven years to the ferry.

Amid plans to construct a new passenger ship to serve our waterways, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority transport committee is to hear about the next stage to bolster the historic offering.

It was confirmed in December last year how a new Mersey Ferry vessel would be built at Cammell Laird in Birkenhead after a multi-million pound deal was struck between the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and the Wirral maritime firm.

An announcement was made in November 2022 that a new ferry to cross the Mersey for passenger journeys would be constructed – the first of its kind for more than six decades. 

More than 120 people are expected to be working on the “cleaner, greener vessel”.

An initial tender for the ferry was put out six years ago, with a pause on the search owing to the coronavirus pandemic. There were fears the historic ferries could have been lost to the Mersey in the 1970s when a bill was put to Parliament to end the service. 

This was defeated and the crossings have continued ever since. They were immortalised in Gerry and the Pacemakers’ iconic song, Ferry across the Mersey in 1965.

Documents released ahead of the combined authority meeting tomorrow outlined how a full refurb of the Snowdrop is expected to be complete by next year. A report said, “To compliment the new vessel, officers have been working towards enhanced maintenance of one of the existing vessels, Snowdrop, over a three year period to ensure an on-going operational life. 

“The first phase of this enhanced maintenance commenced in Autumn 2022 – aiming to extend operational life by an estimated seven years. The second phase of that work is due to commence in dry dock in February 2024, again in Cammell Laird, with the third phase programmed for early 2025.”

It is understood the majority of the enhanced maintenance activities will include engines components, electrics and other key operating systems. There are no plans to enhance the customer facing areas at this stage. 

When the deal with Cammell Laird was announced last month, Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said it was vital the historic ferries were built and restored on the banks of the River Mersey, with hopes further funding could be sought to purchase another in future.

Image: Geograph

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