Monks Across The Mersey – Sunday June 17


The original ferry crossing of the River Mersey, first made by Benedictine monks in the 12th century, is to be recreated this weekend.

The historic re-enactment of what became the world’s most famous ferry service will begin at 1pm on Sunday, June 17 2007 – at the slipway near to the original priory in Birkenhead, Wirral.

Six teams, made up of sea cadets and the Mersey Rowing Club, will take to the river in 15-foot long boats similar in design to the original vessels. And one team is going the extra mile – by dressing up as monks!!

The teams are also aiming to break the Mersey crossing record, for a four-berth rowing boat, of 24 minutes and 50 seconds.

The event, organised in partnership with Wirral Council, is part of a maritime heritage weekend by the Liverpool Culture Company to mark Liverpool’s 800th birthday.


The ‘All Aboard’ weekend features several Tall Ships and free activities at Wellington Dock.

Ian Marr, Club Captain of the Mersey Rowing Club, which was established in 1854, said the crossing would be the first by his club in more than 100 years.

He added: ‘’We’re all really excited, its not every day you get to be a part of history. This is like going back to our roots but it’s been hard to train for. The rehearsal was a real voyage of discovery but it was exhilarating – and we all want to break that record.’’

The first known ferry began in the 1150s when the monks of Birkenhead priory started a small passenger service.

At the time, the Mersey was considerably wider and the only suitable landing point was in the Pool, near the site of the present Merseyside Police HQ.

The monks operated the service up until the priory’s destruction by Henry VIII’s troops. The ferry rights then passed to private hands and resorted to fully rigged sailing ships.