A ferry crossing has existed at Woolwich for 500 years, with the most recent facility in operation since 1996. The three ferries in operation at the site, The John Burns, Ernest Bevin and James Newman, were built in 1963 and were diesel engine vessels. A solution was needed as they had reached the end of their useful design life.
Beckett Rankine was appointed to carry out a refurbishment study to determine what option was best for the improvement of the ferry service. Three options were proposed: an upgrade of the facility, a new ferry facility, or a chain ferry crossing.
It was recommended that a simple upgrade was not ideal due to the age of the ferries, which was making them extremely costly to run. It was suggested that a single chain ferry would be the most cost efficient and effective solution, and would provide adequate capacity.