Three strange river crossings
Over the Manchester Ship Canal, you'll find the Hulmes Ferry, the Thelwall Ferry, and the Warburton Toll Bridge. They're all strange in their own way, all under the control of one company, and all dating back to old laws and legal documents from a hundred years ago. I was in the area, so I stopped by, and found that things might be changing soon.

Manchester Ship Canal Act (1885)
Rixton and Warburton Bridge Act (1863)
(NOTE: it looks like permission for the toll bridge was set up by the 1863 Act, but that was a different bridge over the River Mersey, and the laws and permissions were transferred over to the Ship Canal when they needed a bigger bridge and it is a complete mess of legal wrangling. As it doesn't affect the final story, I quietly elided that whole section because it was far too dull!)

Other references:

Inflation calculator:

And thanks in particular to Stuart at the Hulmes Ferry for friendly conversation when I arrived!

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  • Tom Scott
    Tom Scott

    As always, the references I used for the video are in the description! I'm worried that I've messed up some minor point of law - and I did gloss over some nuance, you can see that in the description - but I'm as sure as I can be.


      Can you tell us why u wear same maroon tshirt for so long? I mean your last video I saw was "Can you remove fingerprint from pineapple" and I was quite amazed that u were wearing the same marron t-shirt that u have in this video.

    • SixOThree

      @J J His respect for information and correctness is admirable. The world is a better place with Tom Scott in it. At least my world is a better place with Tom Scott ISdowns videos in it. Even short simple videos like this one.

    • Mike


    • Sam K
      Sam K

      @Chris C @Tom Scott I do believe that what Chris said about the bridge across the original course of the river is correct.

    • elbob086

      Good old warbi Bridge never seen a single bit of maintenance going there

  • Ptao Tom
    Ptao Tom

    this being a perfect example - "it'd be more annoying to change in that continue putting up with it". How brilliantly British.

  • lee a dorney
    lee a dorney

    Cycles go free

  • Prjndigo

    The Peel group is not allowed to refuse interviews and meetings for any reason; to do so would void their charter. Don't put up with their crap. Find someone on the canal who would like to set up a ferry and pony the cost of a boat then request a meeting with Peel.

    • Ptao Tom
      Ptao Tom

      How do you look so old?

  • Traugott Müller
    Traugott Müller

    If I was living anywhere near Hulmes, I'd made sure to use that Ferry at least once a week.

  • Katie Sutton
    Katie Sutton

    I once learned can part-pay the Warby bridge staff in Haribo if you only have 10p. Also: one of my favourite things in summer is to cycle past motorists with their windows down grumbling about the 12p toll!

  • Ruth Hennell
    Ruth Hennell

    you should check out the Newport transporter bridge!

  • Jack Mathieson
    Jack Mathieson

    I think I drove over the Warburton till bridge a few months ago without knowing it was there beforehand! I was a bit confused and I didn't have any change and went over for free 😂

  • Dave Rome
    Dave Rome

    Never once paid on the Warburton bridge 😂😂 just drive through and flick then the bird 😂😂😂

  • Jagar CogHeart
    Jagar CogHeart

    someone must have a fear of bridges. only option then is the ferry.

  • Lezley Mackrel
    Lezley Mackrel

    The Warburton bridge toll booth got burned down a few years back, probably because the queues were a joke. Sadly they rebuilt it

  • Barry Wood
    Barry Wood

    He's an excellent speaker. I wish I could borrow his voice for my interview this week. I'd get the job for sure!

  • WindyJAMiller


  • thumbwarriordx

    If ISdowns were running the ferries they would simply be moved 100 yards upstream and then camouflaged. Discontinued 3 years later citing low usage.

  • Steve Jones
    Steve Jones

    12p for a car crossing? That's a rip-off; the Swinford Toll Bridge over the Thames in Oxfordshire, not too far from where I live charges 5p (reputedly the lowest such toll charge in the UK). However, it's 10,000 crossing a day, and it seems to be enough that somebody paid £1.08 million pounds for it in 2009.

  • hen ko
    hen ko

    Tom peels back the curtain on river/canal crossings exposing the minutiae of a large corporations responsibilities involved in getting the people to the other side.

  • Mateus Figueiredo
    Mateus Figueiredo

    In the end laws are just words on paper. They don't hold up if someone doesn't enforce them.

  • Drew

    This video has 36M views.

    • hen ko
      hen ko

      You should try Bucklebury Ferry, near the village of Bree. The inn there is awesome as well.

  • Rat Man
    Rat Man

    How do you look so old?

  • Prem Raghvani
    Prem Raghvani

    Welcome to Manchester!

  • Menno Lente
    Menno Lente

    12p toll? Sounds like a ferry tale to me!

  • Joe Pereira
    Joe Pereira

    I feel as though Tom and Adam C would get on well

  • AJGeeTV

    Thanks for this video, Tom. I don't live far from the ship canal and in my 57 years I'd never heard of the ferries until now. Our family will be using them in the next week or two, just for fun...

  • luke cheung
    luke cheung

    The Warburton bridge toll isn't the big bridge in view, its of the small bridge the toll is situated on

  • noname atall
    noname atall

    billion dollar corporations should not be allowed to exist under any circumstance.

  • Curious Crandall
    Curious Crandall

    Consultation closed end or August :-(

  • Moto Jay
    Moto Jay

    Damn Tom was in my neck of the woods!

  • Taylor

    I think you’ve missed one of the most unique ones. The hand cranked ferry in Stratford Upon Avon. It seems to run whenever required - I think it’s 183 years or so old. Still running £1 per person.

  • Brady Lillington
    Brady Lillington

    You should do a video on the Sandbanks Ferry, similarly an Act of Parliament. One of the most expensive, if not the most expensive chain driven ferry in Europe

  • mario sarmientos
    mario sarmientos

    We from Latin America who have crossed a river with our cars in a tire-based improvised boat: not impressed.

  • BcA - Biciclind cu Axel
    BcA - Biciclind cu Axel

    Island of Muppets

  • stevieinselby

    The Warburton Bridge is important because - apart from motorways and railways - the nearest other bridges are 6 miles in one direction (Salford Gateway) and 5 miles in the other (Warrington). It reminds me of Aldwark Bridge, north of York, where there is an even longer section of unbridged river apart from this one shonky wooden bridge on a minor lane, that has a toll of 40p (it was 20p when I used to use it back in 2003), and the owner is currently in a legal battle with residents to increase it to 80p to cover the costs of repair work.

  • Storm Bowman
    Storm Bowman

    You should try Bucklebury Ferry, near the village of Bree. The inn there is awesome as well.

  • Ted Ned
    Ted Ned

    Thats exactly what they are doing on the narrows bridge in Washington state....... its been paid for for 10 years now, but they keep raising the toll....... all they see it as is one big cash grab....

  • Lawkeye

    you're so similar to Joe Jenkins. like a future version

  • Sam Findlay
    Sam Findlay

    This is the most British video Ive ever seen

  • Ethan Bennett
    Ethan Bennett

    apparently the big bridge is NOT actually the toll bridge. the actual toll bridge is a much smaller bridge crossing over a stream that a farmer owns. some of the drone shots might show it

  • Funny Memes
    Funny Memes

    Tom and his quirky stuff.

  • Ado

    I don't know Tom "Three Curious Canal Crossings" sounds better to me.

  • Nicholas Diehl
    Nicholas Diehl

    But that's super cool so u can go out on a ferry at 12am

  • Martin Danuschewske
    Martin Danuschewske

    In Switzerland is a little ferryboat at the river Rhine. The place is called "Buchberg" and you can call out a request to cross the Rhine by banging a piece of Metal against a piece of an old railroad track. Then someone comes from the other side to pick you up. But only if someone is there. I don't remember any workinghours. Quite amusing experience though.

  • Zaru noi
    Zaru noi

    Are you sure cyclists use it? It doesn't look very cyclist friendly with it not having an easy way to get your bike on

  • Joshua Collins
    Joshua Collins

    People in general would realize that some things are just more easily dealt with than fighting. Day to day, I see people getting worked up & making a fuss over the smallest of inconveniences.

  • MrHuwPowell

    Too bad you didn’t check out Whitney toll bridge.

  • Zenpai

    I really enjoy the improvised videos you make!

  • George Grace
    George Grace

    It will be Thelwall ferry, as in Thelwall Viaduct.


    Weird Stuff. However. Its more about tourism noe not about ferry service itself.

  • SpartiuS94

    Company running the bridge: if we go a bit silently about it, we could raise it to 1 pound and make over a million in revenue per year. Tom: No, I don't think you will.

  • Dan Horro
    Dan Horro

    Had to cross that bridge a few months ago was very confused as to why there was a 12p toll, now I know!

  • Hugh Wright
    Hugh Wright

    Sometimes residents near the Warburton Bridge will give the toll booth feller a few quid and tell him to let the next few cars through to alleviate traffic. Might've beeb what happened to you.

  • Hugh Wright
    Hugh Wright

    Wahey, the Irlam ferry!

  • Theo's Epic Videos
    Theo's Epic Videos

    There's this quirky multi-billion dollar company in Texas at Boca Chica... They're buidling these big people transport rockets.

  • vp 787
    vp 787

    Could you please talk about the Australian Identify and Disrupt Bill. It allows police unparalleled power over Australians online accounts. Allowing them to access an account on "suspected criminal activities", They can look at, edit, delete, and post things from this account.

  • happy little clam feet
    happy little clam feet

    A couple of curious canal crossings

  • willie Thomson
    willie Thomson

    My fave bridge

  • NotPenguinFrog

    I lived around there and that small boat has never been open I've been down there many times and it's never open and I never knew about that motor boat crossing

  • Gallaelwyd -
    Gallaelwyd -

    Peel Holdings are scarily huge. They sometimes build without a buyer on the other end for what seems like a "cause we can" scenario (or maybe there's more to it). But they're also responsible for buying up almost every piece of green land and open space protected in some way or not to build shoddily made and overpriced houses (which the government calls 'affordable') on land not fit for purpose (huge mining culture and subsequently marshy land). It's a shame they can finance a ferry and pay a bloke to run it (presumably) but can't spare one employee for an interview...

  • Michael Ding
    Michael Ding

    Bridge crossing is free if you show up in a horse carriage? How about a bicycle?

  • Zach Brown
    Zach Brown

    these are my favorite kind of videos. i’ve been fascinated with weird infrastructure my whole life idk why

  • Jim

    Meetings near Manchester? Ur hard

  • Steven Booth
    Steven Booth

    The big iron bridge you showed is not Warbuton Toll Bridge. The Toll Bridge is the small stone affair near the toll booth. The canal is the old course of the River Mersey and you had to cross the old stone bridge to get access to cross the Mersey. They built the iron bridge to keep access open but they cannot by law levy a toll on that bridge nor can the money from the existing toll, by law, be used to maintain the iron bridge. Peel, as always agree things at the time for expediency, then set about changing things to suit themselves and their shareholders and stick two fingers up to the public. They are currently doing their best to obliterate Irlam and Cadisheads Greenbelt.

  • Deanosaur

    I want tom to teach me his god-level research skills

  • Steven Booth
    Steven Booth

    Peel Holdings don't like interviews or anyone asking questions. Too many skeletons in too many closets. Awful organisation.

  • Michael Green
    Michael Green

    Very good and you should campaign to "use it or loose it" but the company has a reputation of being a bit nasty and you should have said "Canal crossings" we should be proud of the Liverpool & Manchester Ship Canal.

  • james earljohns
    james earljohns

    The dude with the bucket probably didn’t even work there hahah just seen an opportunity haha

  • Patrick Ormerod
    Patrick Ormerod

    As a member of the Maritime Legal Society, there are a lot of inaccuracies in this video. When laws are involved you should do more research before publishing a video.

  • CMDR unematti
    CMDR unematti

    ive never seen an actual toll bridge :o

  • Dalton McVay
    Dalton McVay

    I really hate how much you vary the speed of your talking

  • Jack Jones
    Jack Jones

    No way is warbi bride on here 😂

  • Shadeem

    was that an american flag?!


    Manchester United!!!

  • Jon Ray
    Jon Ray

    You're a preserver of history, in many senses. England, and the world, owe you a debt of gratitude. Thanks for the content, Tom :)

  • Ben Southall
    Ben Southall

    Most importantly, is that a velvet t-shirt‽

  • Jacksirrom

    Companies with such a large public impact/footprint should be mandated to talk to random inquiries. I don't think it's fair at all.

  • Geoffrey Lee
    Geoffrey Lee

    Want a funny one? Toronto Island Airport ferry.

  • Tfin

    At a pound, I'd try very hard to never use that bridge.

  • ethzero

    I think you'd need to contact the Minister for Administrative Affairs.

  • Ben Exley
    Ben Exley

    Didn't expect to see Thelwall in here lmao, knew we had an old ferry crossing but didn't think it was still going.

  • Milkra

    If you looked at the title alone you’d think this was a video for an artsy poem tom wrote

  • sid m
    sid m

    Hi Tom, Have you ever considered getting a proper job and helping people who really need it in your local community?

  • Marc Fuchs
    Marc Fuchs

    i love such far off places in the countrysides. I would prefer to visit such places over crowded cities any time. I am not the biggest fan of England, but boy would I enjoy a few weeks of a bike tour through the entire country.

  • ArcticElvis

    A lot of interesting content to digest, but I'm just floored by the silent L in Hulmes.

  • Youtube American Lies
    Youtube American Lies

    Haha the northerners ripped you off Tim your scraping the barrel mate you used to show interesting stuff now its all basic knowledge to anyone that isnt a city idiot Its not about law tim its about cost to keep the bridge thats it, gov has f all to do with it thats the bloody point!! And fyi the eynsham bridge makes pocket of money every year, drive there at 8.30 am have fun itl take 20mins to get to the toll from the 40

  • aola wili
    aola wili

    I never thought I'd be excited to watch a video about river crossings

  • Fitz

    In Australia, we use Fee unit and penalty unit. The government increase it every finance year according to CPI. I DON'T LIKE IT🙄!

  • Gil Heuss
    Gil Heuss

    One of the things that make England, England is the "quirky things." As a ofttimes visitor to your shores I hope you never change that.

    • aola wili
      aola wili

      rivers are nice

  • Ben Norwood
    Ben Norwood

    How did you do in the election

  • Jonathan Richards
    Jonathan Richards

    1,057,110 views as I write - *NOW* the Peel Group wish they'd responded to a request for interview. If only one in a thousand of us turn up to cross the Canal by these routes, there's certain to be a requirement. Also, that Thelwall Ferry provision says (at 2:38) "shall provide and for ever maintain ... a ferry across the Canal suitable for all descriptions of vehicular traffic and for carrying fifteen ton loads ..." I don't think you could get even fifteen stone into that little dinghy!

  • Egg


  • Quillo

    Good god i hate the Warburton toll, i've put so many £1s in that pot and thats before the rush hour traffic. Ill take the extra 10 miles on the motorway anyday

  • R Johnson
    R Johnson

    Britain: Turning laws into lawlessness for profit maximisation.

  • tobortine

    This makes me so proud to be British. The mad, quirky, odd, eccentric way we occasionally behave gives me a warm glow inside.

  • zakius

    while the unit price on that bridge stayed the same the scale makes it worth it, if the bridge was barely used it would be a huge cost to keep people there taking the toll, but with cars going on and on and on it's worth it

  • Paul Gray
    Paul Gray

    Why are you using metric measurements for distance?

  • Mike Doragh
    Mike Doragh

    You should do a video about the Swinford Toll Bridge in Oxfordshire. Only 5p to cross, but resticts others from building a competing bridge for 3 miles upstream or downstream of the 250 year old bridge. Sure there is a story there!

  • Tashanda Jackson
    Tashanda Jackson

    Sue the Peel group.

  • jamesdriggers2011

    Less work than fixing it? Nope. Less head ache than dealing with govt!

  • Horatio yen
    Horatio yen


  • Knute Rife
    Knute Rife

    One way toll? Welcome to the Tacoma Narrows.

  • Sierra Black
    Sierra Black

    12p is less than Grand Islanders pay for their bridges on I-190 in Erie County, NY. Granted that’s a more suburban thoroughfare on one of the routes to/from Canada so the $1 makes sense there.