since the First Fleet anchored in Sydney Cove in 1788, river and harbour
ferries have been a part of the Sydney scene, with the first being built
just a few months later to provide a link to the food-producing outpost at
the world's biggest ferry operator, but with the opening
of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932 its fortunes changed
drastically. And with competition from trains, trams,
buses and the family car, ferry patronage would fall even
the world the ferry cutback story was the same. Take London, for example.
Before the Metropolitan Underground Railway was established in 1863,
Londoners had done most of their east-west travelling by ferry.
journey was often accompanied, would you believe, by the quite
exhilarating exchange of insulting language. According to James Boswell’s
Life of Samuel Johnson (1791):
is well known that there was formerly a rude custom for those who were
sailing upon the Thames, to accost each other as they passed, in the most
abusive language they could invent, generally, however, with as much
satirical humour as they were capable of producing . . .
was once eminently successful in this species of contest; a fellow having
attacked him with some coarse raillery, Johnson answered him thus,
your wife, under pretence of keeping a bawdy-house, is a receiver of