The Fleetwood-Knott End Ferry provides an essential link between two towns; whilst the two are less than a mile apart, with a direct view of each other from their shorelines, they are nearly 15 miles apart by land.
In 1841 the Croft family utilised their rowing boats and ferried people back and forth between the two shorelines at a minimal cost. This unregulated service allowed Knott End farmers and residents to take advantage of the growing popularity of Fleetwood Market and to sell their produce there. As well as taking pigs, sheep and fowl on the boat, cows and horses would often swim across the estuary alongside the ferry.
It was clear by the mid-19th century that there was a need for a more formal ferry commercial ferry service, this was not formalised until the late 1890s. The commercial service included many of the vessels which had been used by the Croft family and saw a number of family members appointed roles on the ferry. Passenger fee lists from this time show the variety of passengers with fees for all manner of animals as well as coffins and corpses.
With the new structured ferry service, Knott End became a popular holiday destination and bed and breakfasts quickly began to appear along the promenade. The proximity to the sea partnered with its rural feel was a big part of its appeal and by the 1940s ferry usage was at its peak. In addition to holidaymakers, the ferry also transported a number of refugees and troops during World War II as well as school children.
The remains of two of the ferries that operated can still be seen off the Knott End coast in low-tide. These include the Caldervale and Lunevale; retired after twenty-nine years and thirty-one years respectively. Ferries that followed include the Princess Anne, Wyre Lady and Viking 66. In 1974, the Viking 66 made newspaper headlines when it was stolen by a Burnley man hoping to travel to a coastal town in France to see his love, Jeanette. He only got as far as Blackpool’s North Pier.
The survival of the Fleetwood-Knott End ferry has been questioned in the recent past due to changing political and financial climates. In 2018, Wyre Borough and Lancashire County Council jointly funded the ferry service for a further eight years and the Wyre Rose continues to make daily trips across the estuary.