Gosport Ferry

Gosport Ferry

The Gosport Ferry is a ferry service operating between Gosport pontoon and Portsmouth pontoon in Hampshire, southern England. It is currently operated by Gosport Ferry Ltd, a subsidiary of the Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company plc, itself a wholly owned subsidiary of Falkland Islands Holdings, following a £10 million hostile takeover in 2004. [ [http://www.thenews.co.uk/viewarticle2.aspx?sectionid=458&articleid=898365 Second bidder in move for ferry] ]


The company that currently operates the Gosport ferry was created in 1883 as the "Port of Portsmouth Steam Launch & Towing Company", making it one of the longest serving ferry services in the UK. In 1963 it took over the "Gosport & Portsea Watermen's Steam Launch Company", founded in 1875 by the Watermen who had operated ferries on the route for centuries. These Watermen had enjoyed protected rights between 1603 and 1840 limiting operation of ferries on the route to Gosport residents.

In 1840 a steam operated chain ferry was introduced,South Coast Railways - Portsmouth to Southampton. Vic Mitchell and Keith Smith. ISBN 0-906520-31-2.] to a design similar to that already in use at Woolston. The chain ferry ceased operation in 1959.

Upon the takeover in 1963, the company changed its name to the Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company (plc since 2001). [ [http://www.simplonpc.co.uk/PortsmouthHFC.html A Brief History of Portsmouth Harbour Ferries] ] In addition to Gosport Ferries Ltd and other related interests, PHFC also owns Clarence Marine Engineering Ltd, which provides maintenance services for the ferries as well as general marine engineering services. Gosport Ferries Ltd was incorporated in 1988, registered company 2254382; [ [http://www.ukdata.com/numbers/02254382.html Gosport Ferries Ltd company information] ] Clarence Marine Engineering was incorporated in 1987, registered company 2139067. [ [http://www.ukdata.com/numbers/02139067.html Clarence Marine Engineering company information] ] Both are non- trading companies whose registered office is located in South Street, Gosport, head offices for the Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company Ltd plc, registered company 18751. [ [http://www.ukdata.com/numbers/00018751.html Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company Ltd plc company information] ]

The vessels

The company currently operates three vessels - "Gosport Queen", "Spirit of Gosport" and "Spirit of Portsmouth". All three vessels have doors built to align with the doors on the Gosport pontoon.
*"Spirit of Portsmouth" is the newest vessel of the fleet. It has a covered top deck (unlike previous vessels) and a bar, so it is normally restricted to cruise services. The vessel does, however, occasionally operate on the ferry service. Unlike its predecessor, "Solent Enterprise", it is painted in standard Gosport Ferry livery.

*"Spirit of Gosport" is the second newest vessel of the fleet. It was built in 2001 to replace "Portsmouth Queen". It is of the same design as "Spirit of Portsmouth" but without the covered roof and bar. During its first few months in service it ran alongside the two 'Queens' due to teething problems. These were soon ironed out and it eventually replaced "Portsmouth Queen".

*"Gosport Queen" is the oldest ship of the fleet. It was built in 1966 to replace two of the four original, much smaller, Gosport ferries. This vessel is a sister ship of "Portsmouth Queen" and "Solent Enterprise" (now both withdrawn).

Three notable vessels that have previously operated the service since 1966 are as follows;

*"Solent Enterprise" (formerly "Gay Enterprise" [ [http://www.simplonpc.co.uk/GayEnterprise.html Postcards of "Gay Enterprise", "Solent Enterprise" and "Sundance"] ] ) was previously the pride of the fleet. It was built in 1971, to provide cruise services. It looked similar to the ferries built in 1966 but was painted in a blue livery. This ferry was replaced in 2003 by "Spirit of Portsmouth" and sold in 2005 to Capital Pleasure Boats who renamed her "Sundance" for operation as a charter vessel on the River Thames.

*"Portsmouth Queen" was built in 1966 as a sister ship to "Gosport Queen". This vessel replaced the other two original, smaller, Gosport ferries. It was also a sister ship to the "Solent Enterprise".

*"Southsea Queen" was built in 1974 as a cruise ship, but was unsuccessful as it was too small and was sold to White Horse Ferries Ltd just four years later, in 1978. It subsequently operated on the Hythe Ferry service where it was renamed "Hythe Hotspur". It was withdrawn from this service in 1995. After a period on charter to Brownsea Island Ferries Ltd in Poole Harbour it was bought by Clyde Maritime Services Ltd and renamed "Cruiser"

The ferry service

The ferry operates from the Gosport pontoon to the Portsmouth pontoon (and return) every 15 minutes from 5.30am to midnight, and more frequently at busy periods. The journey time takes approximately 5 minutes. All tickets are valid for return journeys - no single tickets are sold.

There is speculation that the ferry service may cease in 2008 due to the dilapidated state of the Gosport pontoon which won't last another winter. Gosport Council do not have the £3 million to replace and Hampshire County Council won't give them a share of the Transport fund [ [http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/Cash-wrangle-threat-to-ferry.2137194.jp Cash wrangle threat to ferry] ] . However it has continued service and a design has been drawn for a new Gosport pontoon [ [http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/latest/Ferry-moves-but-no-deal.3680470.jp Ferry moves but no deal on who will pay] ] .


The Gosport Ferry also operates cruises around the Solent. Cruises are generally operated by "Spirit of Portsmouth" which has moquette seating upstairs (also with seating with tables in the centre section) as well as a bar.

When there are no more cruises for a year, "Spirit of Portsmouth" operates on the ferry service alongside "Spirit of Gosport". The latter vessel replaces the former when the former is out of service. Cruises were once the duty of the withdrawn vessels "Southsea Queen" and the "Solent Enterprise".

It was thought that there would be no more cruises for 2008 but a limited timetable has now appeared.


External links

* [http://www.gosportferry.co.uk Gosport Ferry Ltd]
* [http://www.fihplc.com/companyactivities/index.php?section=3&sub=1 Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company plc]
* [http://www.simplonpc.co.uk/PortsmouthHFC.html History and information of the Gosport Ferry and its vessels]

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