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Chain manufacturer 'raises the standard' for a venerable Thames crossing

28 February 2016

The Woolwich ferry service bridges were recently overhauled, with iwis drive systems providing new roller chains for the north and south side bridge lifting systems.

The River Thames has seen a free ferry service at Woolwich since the mid 18th century when it was instituted by act of Parliament. The ferry terminals are based on the north and south banks and allow passengers travelling by foot or by vehicle to cross the river.

Each year the ferries carry over one million vehicles and 2.5 million foot passengers with a service operating every ten minutes, running twelve hours per day, 363 days every year. The passengers embark at each side on one of two bridges or 'link spans', which raise and lower according to tide and time, allowing a safe passage on and off the ferry.

The current operator, Briggs Marine Contractors, is contracted by Transport For London to overhaul and manage the complete ferry system in order to increase the reliability and resilience of the service and maintain it for many years to come. Briggs contracted Amco to undertake the major works associated with the link span refurbishment, which has included the replacement of the complete hoisting mechanism. 

The four 240 ton link spans, whose life had expired, were lifted by roller chains attached to a wire rope and roller arrangement which were deemed inadequate for the application and have been subsequently replaced by a roller chain and direct drive sprocket arrangement supplied by iwis.

In January 2014 Amco approach iwis with an order to produce and supply 500m of the latter’s 56B-2 (3½in pitch duplex) Elite precision roller chain, and 32 duplex drive sprockets, which are almost one metre in diameter. iwis’ managing director Andrew Fletcher concludes:

“The ferry operates by Royal Appointment and is a very prestigious application of which we are all very proud. We hope it proves that iwis is a serious supply partner to the world of power transmission with its Jwis and Elite roller and conveyor chain products.”

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