The two new Woolwich ferries will continue the tradition of carrying the names of local figures – with one having a particularly poignant connection.

The new boats will be named after Dame Vera Lynn, who celebrated her 100th birthday this year, and Ben Woollacott, 19, a deckhand who died working on the ferries.

The state-of-the-art vessels will be delivered next year and will form part of the river crossings strategy for east London – after their future was initially placed in doubt.

Dame Vera Lynn

Dame Vera was born in East Ham in 1917 and went on to become the “force’s sweetheart” in the Second World War.

Ben was the sixth generation of Thames waterman but drowned after he was dragged into the water after a mooring rope accident in 2011. The former ferry operator Serco was fined £200,000 over failings that led to the tragedy.

Today his family said: “Along with his crew mates and friends of the river, we thank Transport for London for naming one of the new Woolwich ferries after Ben.

New designs for the Woolwich Ferry by LMG Marin

“It’s a beautiful way to remember a son who loved this river heart and soul, a son dearly missed but now certainly never forgotten.”

Dame Vera Lynn said: “It is wonderful to hear that one of the new boats for the Woolwich Ferry service is to be named in my honour. I am truly humbled to have been chosen.”

The boats cost around £20 million each and come with specialised “hybrid” engines allowing them to run on electricity generated by the motors.

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