Marine Activities of the GCR

The main maritime activities of the GCR were centred upon the Humber Estuary. The company operated the Humber Ferry between New Holland on the south bank and Kingston upon Hull on the north. There were three paddle steamers employed on this service. The Humber is notorious for shifting sand banks and the shallow draught of paddle steamers was advantageous but, even so, ferries became stuck from time-to-time. The railway owned docks in Grimsby, the two main docks were the Alexandra and the Royal Dock; there were also two fish docks. Grimsby was arguably the largest fishing port in the UK in the early part of the 20th century, a claim disputed by its near neighbour, Hull. The main cargo trade was the export of coal and the import of timber. Congestion at Grimsby lead to the opening of the very large dock at Immingham in 1912 and once opened this dock took over most of the coal trade. Immingham dock was 45 acres in area and was equipped with cranes, coal hoists, a graving dock and bunkering facilities. A power station was built to supply both the electrical and hydraulic power for the dock infrastructure, including the tramway to Grimsby.

The GCR operated its own fleet of sea going vessels which operated services to the Continent, notably to Antwerp, Hamburg and Rotterdam with other destinations from time-to-time. In 1910, the GCR had a fleet of eleven vessels on the Continental services. This had dropped to eight by the time of Grouping (1923) due to one accident and two wartime losses to mines.

In addition to the main fleet, the company owned other vessels on the Humber, such as tugs, dredgers and lighters.


Thank you to Richard Barron for the above information.