The West End-Milton (Park Road) Ferry Service: A Slice of History

The West End-Milton (Park Road) Ferry: A Slice of History

Did you know that in 1939, the West End-Milton (Park Road) ferry service was ordered to be closed amid opposition from some members of the Council? Here’s why.

The West End-Milton Ferry had been a vital part of the transportation network for people living in the West End and Milton areas. However, due to declining patronage and the deteriorating condition of the landing and boats, it was deemed no longer viable to continue operating the service.

In late July 1939, the Finance Committee of the City Council recommended the discontinuation of the ferry service from West End to Milton (Park Road). The committee had received a letter from the secretary of the Marine Board, which highlighted the condition of the landing and boats of the ferry. 

The Marine Board requested that the Council either effect repairs immediately or close the ferry down. The cost of repairing the landing and providing a new ferry was estimated at £240, but with only about 20 people each way per day using the ferry, the committee recommended that the service should be discontinued.

An amendment was proposed to reconsider the recommendation of the Finance Committee, but it was defeated by nine votes to seven on party lines. This decision was met with opposition by some members of the Council. 

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Alderman Lane argued that discontinuing the ferry service would deprive citizens of a service to which they were entitled. He likened the council’s decision to closing down a section of the road rather than paying for its repair. 

Around 1914, the first ferry service in the area operated from Park Road Milton to South Brisbane. However, it was discontinued sometime in the 1940s.

In 1922, Percival Patrick Hanlon started a ferry service from Toowong to Hill End, operating from near the Regatta Hotel to Ferry Road in West End. The service ran until 1953, starting with a rowboat and later upgrading to motorboats.

When Mr Hanlon fell ill, his wife, Elizabeth Hanlon (formerly known as Elizabeth Dale), obtained her Master’s license and ran the ferry during her husband’s illness. However, Mr Hanlon was forced to retire from work in 1953. 

The ferry service continued under the management of Elizabeth Hanlon until January 1974, when the jetty and pontoon were destroyed by the Australia Day floods.

Although the West End-Milton ferry service is no longer in operation, its legacy lives on as a reminder of the importance of reliable transportation infrastructure and the dedicated individuals who work to maintain it.

Published 2-May-2023