Humber ferries

As a boy I was occasionally taken to Hull by my grandmother, who had relatives and friends there. This involved going to Cleethorpes or Grimsby station and catching a train to New Holland. From there a ferry boat, the Tattershall Castle, would take us across the Humber to Hull Corporation Pier. And what a boat it was, a side paddle-wheeler that made a tremendous threshing noise as it manoeuvred. I used to go and look at the engines, gleaming steel and brass things that were driven in and out to work the paddles via giant pistons. They were immaculately clean, and completely dazzling to a small boy.

I sometimes rode it as a student, cutting hours off the overnight journey from St Andrews to Cleethorpes by changing at York for Hull and taking the ferry across the Humber. It was quite invigorating to sail in it as dawn was breaking.

An engraved brass plate told that the ship had played an honourable role in the Dunkirk evacuation. It was one of the small boats that crossed the English Channel to take soldiers off the beaches and home to safety. I last travelled it when I was setting up in London after my spell at Hillsdale. My flat had no furniture, but an aunt in Hull generously donated some of her old stuff, and a friend and I packed it into a hired van and took the Tattershall Castle across the Humber. In Cleethorpes another aunt did the same before we drove it to London.

The Tattershall Castle was retired when the Humber Bridge made it redundant. It was moved to the Thames, where it now sits just opposite Parliament and the London Eye, and operates as a floating bar. I've been on it occasionally, fondly remembering the many journeys of my youth as I pace its decks and inspect once more its giant engines, now silent.