In 1885, an act of Parliament made the Manchester Ship Canal possible. Within the act, there were around 300 pages of technical requirements included to satisfy landowners along the 36-mile route.
One of those requirements was for a “ferry by night and by day whenever required” to be maintained by the canal’s owners to replace Hulmes Bridge, a low-lying bridge that connected the villages of Flixton and Irlam.
Originally serviced by rear-oared scull boats, the free Hulmes Ferry is still in operation today with the Peel Group now responsible for its maintenance. The boat is harbored on the Flixton side of the river, so those crossing from the Irlam side need to ring a bell to get the ferryman’s attention.
The crossing takes just under a minute to complete, with a limit of four passengers onboard.
Similar rights of way across the canal can be found upriver, with the Thelwall Ferry providing a similar service for the small cost of 11p, and the Warburton Toll Bridge costing 12p to travel over. The original 1885 act didn’t allow for inflation to be calculated into the ferry cost, hence some highly affordable ferries outside of Manchester.
Know Before You Go
The Flixton Jetty can be found near the car park of the Davyhulme Millenium Nature Reserve, via a short footpath.
The Irlam Jetty is located at the end of the 250-yard path which runs alongside a small industrial estate. Both ways are signposted.
The service does not run all year round, so please check the website for operation hours before visiting.