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Ferries & fords across the Lea

Ferries & fords across the Lea

Ferry Boat crossing from the Horse and Groom on the east bank to the west bank of the Lea (Hackney Archives)

Ferries across the Lea were often name for those operating the service. When the rights changed hands, sometimes so did the name of the ferry.The rights to the ferries were held by the Lord of the Manor.

The rights to own and operate ferries near Lea bridge were purchased and extinguished by the Lea Bridge Turnpike Act of 1857.

From north to south the ferries war as follows:

Hilliers Ferry

The early ferry crossing at Ferry Lane (formerly Mill Lane) was known asHillyers Ferry, (later Hilliers), which later gave it's name to an early bridge crossing known as Hillyers Bridge.

High Hill Ferry

High Hill Fery intooperated until the late 19c.The High Hill ferry remained in use after the nearby railway viaduct had been built.

Smith's Ferry

LB1 19

Early 19th c. watercolour of the Jolly Anglers. (Hackney Archives)

Smiths ferry linked the Jolly Anglers Public House (south of the current Kings Head Bridge) with a small island on the east side of the river (now Essex Wharf). This island was divided from the main Essex bank by a side stream which later formed a part of Lea Dry Dock. The island was included within Middlesex until the 19c., possibly to permit the operation of the ferry under the control of the Lord of the Manor of Hackney.

Jeremy's Ferry

Jeremy's Ferry was so called by 1709.The Ferry belonged to the lord of the manor of Hackney along with Smith’s Ferry, slightly to the north.

This ferry is variously referred to as Hackney or Lockbridge but the references seem to be interchangeable with earlier bridges, weirs, flash locks and fords at or about the same point.

Located slightly to the south of Lea Bridge opposite the Horse and Groom PH Jeremy's Ferry is sometimes shown, possibly erroneously, in the position of Smith's Ferry.

Tyler's Ferry

Adjacent to the White House Inn, opposite Hackney Marsh. An unusual sport free up in 1749 in whichwomen were reported running for a linen shift from Tyler's ferry to Temple Mills.


A History of the County of Essex: Volume 6: Leyton: Introduction, pp. 174-184, W.R.Powell (Editor). 1973

'Hackney: Communications', A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 10: Hackney (1995), pp. 4-10

'Hackney: Social and Cultural Activities', A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 10: Hackney (1995), pp. 65-73

leabridge.org.uk December 2012