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cover illustration

Author : John Hendy, Andrew Munn

Publisher : Ferry Publications


The Gosport ferry service represents part of a proud nautical tradition which has long been associated with Portsmouth Harbour. Although a floating bridge was established in 1840, it was not until 1869 that the first privately owned steam launch began to ply its trade across the narrow neck of water between both towns. Its introduction was met by fierce hostility from the traditional wherrymen who did everything in their power to prevent their livelihoods from being threatened by the new mode of transport. Until their inevitable merger in 1962, two rival launch operators vied for the lucrative cross-harbour traffic and in late 2004, the Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company was acquired by Falkland Islands Holdings plc. For almost 100 years the basic plan and open nature of the steam launches changed little although the 1950s saw the introduction of diesel propulsion and in 1966 the twin ‘Queen’ vessels revolutionised the design and performance of these sturdy craft. Today, three modern and comfortable launches operate the four minute link. They continue the time-honoured passage providing an efficient and reliable service that will always be “shorter by water”.