Between 1946 and 1948 this Ferries Committee of the Ministry of Transport investigated 41 ferries in England and Wales. These ranged from quite small operations like the Surlingham-Postwick Ferry across the River Yare in Norfolk (with a manually-hauled pontoon capable, when it was working, of carrying one car) to the Hull-New Holland Ferry across the River Humber (using steam-powered vessels like the Lincoln Castle capable of carrying twenty cars and 1200 passengers). The typical financial problems of Britain's smaller river ferries were evident from their investigations into the Stixwould Ferry (Lincolnshire), bought by Kesteven Council in 1937. They discovered that even though only eight pedestrians and one vehicle per day were using the ferry, the council were paying someone £2 10s 0d (£2.50) a week to operate it and allowing them to keep the ferry tolls of 7s 0d (35p) a week!
The Ferries Committee investigated thirteen pontoon and chain ferries of the type in use at Stixwould and found that eight of them were no longer in operation usually because they no longer river-worthy or because the income from fares was insufficient to pay the ferryman.
Although many river ferries closed in the period 1945 to 1950 some survived much longer and many continue to provide a service to this day. Estuarial ferry crossings over the Severn, Forth and Humber, for example, continued until the construction of suspension bridges. In the case of the Humber three paddle steamers, the Tattersall Castle, the Wingfield Castle and the Lincoln Castle continued to work the 20 minute ferry route between the north and south banks although unlucky passengers could sometimes be marooned for hours on sandbanks or because of unfavourable tides. The last remaining ferry, the diesel-electric paddle ship Farringford, only ceased operations when the Humber Bridge finally opened in 1981.
Another, more surprising, survivor was the chain operated Southrey Ferry over the River Witham in Lincolnshire. In 1947 it was owned by the brewers Ind Coope and was operated by the tenant of the White Horse Inn. Yet despite the fact that in the late 1940s it only carried 3 vehicles per week the ferry managed to survive until 1965 largely to serve passenger needs at the nearby Southrey railway station.
Further south, in Norfolk, was the Loddon to Reedham Ferry across the River Yare. In its 1948 report the Ferries Committee was highly critical of this ferry claiming that the way it was operated, using wooden ramps for loading, damaged vehicles and prompted drivers to make long detours via Norwich or Great Yarmouth to avoid using it.