Cumbria County Council’s Windermere Ferry will be taken out of the water next month for its five-yearly refit and full inspection.
The Mallard, a vessel that can carry 15 cars and more than 100 passengers across England’s longest lake between Bowness and Far Sawrey, will be out of service from Monday 4 March for approximately three weeks. It is anticipated to be back in operation from Monday 25 March.
The inspection will be carried out by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) – the licencing body that provides the licence for the Windermere Ferry to run. This licence requires an out of water inspection to be carried out every five years. The inspection will include a review of the mechanical, electrical and operational records to ensure that the vessel (and the council as operator) is fit to continue providing the service.
The work will also include installing an emergency access platform to the side of the Mallard from the car deck. This would provide a safe means of evacuating passengers in an emergency as a direct cross-board to a vessel alongside. Additionally, the vessel will undergo a full re-paint, new graphics, rust treatment and the installation of a new PA system to improve the passenger experience.
This routine maintenance work, which will cost approx. £150,000, was unable to be completed when the ferry was out of action following the engine fire last year – this was due to the timing of the MCA inspection requirements and available budget.
The inspection and re-fit works will provide a new five year life for the Mallard without any further planned maintenance works.
Councillor Keith Little, Cumbria County Council Cabinet member for Highways and Transport, said: “We recognise that the ferry being out of service creates an inconvenience for the many people – locals and visitors alike – who use it. The five-yearly inspection and refit is essential work that will ensure the ferry is in top condition ahead of the busy summer season.”
Councillor James Airey said: “This is a regular refit and inspection which should have been carried out as part of the work to restore the Ferry service after it was taken out of action for six months last year.
“The failure of our Labour and Lib Dem county council to schedule this work last year when the Ferry was crawling with engineers shows contempt for passengers and a blatant disregard for local businesses hoping to use next month and the start of the tourist season to begin making up for last year’s lost summer.
“People are rightly fed-up of hearing the council’s convoluted excuses and buck-passing to other organisations. The simple fact is that if they had got their act together, this latest disruption could have been avoided.”