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Gosport Ferries Limited
 
Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company
 
Page 1: Up to 1962
 
 
 
This is one of a series of pages devoted to postcards and photographs of the Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company (PHFC), and its predecessors. This page covers the ferries up the 1963, when the various original companies combined. Portsmouth Harbour Ferries - Page 2 shows the more recent ferries. Ferries are currently (2007) operated as Gosport Ferries Limited, a subsidiary of PHFC.
 
 
A Brief History of Portsmouth Harbour Ferries
Watermen have carried passengers across Portsmouth Harbour for many centuries, and the trade had been regulated by the Court of Exchequer since 1603, which gave the rights to operate the service exclusively to inhabitants of Gosport. These rights tended to be held within families, passed from generation to generation. This restriction allowed overcharging, and an Act of Parliament was introduced in 1809 to regulate pricing, although it took until 1835 before a fixed fare table was set and adhered to. The watermen used double-ended rowing boats know as wherries, which continued in use for many years after the coming of steam. There were two main routes across the harbour from Gosport, one to the Point (Old Portsmouth) and one to the Hard (Portsea - near the naval base).
 
The watermen's monopoly was broken in 1840, when a steam-powered floating bridge, guided by chains, started operation between Gosport and Old Portsmouth. The first ferry Victoria was soon joined by a second ferry, the Albert. These were subsequently replaced by the Alexandra and the Duchess of York. When the first railway in the area opened in 1841 to Gosport, the floating bridge received a lot of additional traffic. The floating bridge continued until 1959.
 
The watermen responded to the floating bridge by acquiring steam passenger ferries, which they operated from Gosport to the Hard. In 1875, the watermen formed the Gosport & Portsea Watermen's Steam Launch Company (known as the Old Company). The floating bridge company responded by operating their own passenger launches from Gosport to Old Portsmouth. When Portsmouth Harbour station opened in 1876, adjacent to the Hard, the Old Company's passenger ferries had a big advantage over those of the floating bridge. The success of the passenger ferries prompted the formation of the Port of Portsmouth Steam Launch & Towing Company in 1883, known as the New Company, who placed three steam launches on the same route as the Old Company. This led the Old Company to raise money for a fourth and fifth boat. Competition between the Old and New Companies was fierce, until collaborative arrangements were instigated in 1888. As the new city centre grew, the importance of Old Portsmouth declined, and the fortunes of the Floating Bridge Company declined with it. The three last "traditional" Portsmouth ferries were the Vesta (1956), Ferry Queen (1959) and Vita (1960). They were all diesel-powered, but otherwise the design had changes little in 80 years.
 
In 1963, the New Company changed its name to the Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company, and took over the Old Company. The combined company had eight vessels, Vadne, Vita, Venus and Vesta from the New Company, plus Ferry Queen, Ferry Prince, Ferry Princess and Ferry Belle from the Old Company. Two modern new vessels were built by Thorneycroft's of Woolston, named Portsmouth Queen and Gosport Queen. They entered service in 1966, and have proved very reliable once some initial teething troubles were ironed out. Initially, a number of the traditional ferries were retained for standby and excursion duties. The new ferries were joined in 1971 by the larger Gay Enterprise, which ran excursions in the summer, and covered in the winter whilst the other two ferries were overhauled. Gay Enterprise was later renamed Solent Enterprise. She was joined by another excursion vessel, the Southsea Queen, in 1974, a much better-looking ship than the others then in the fleet. Southsea Queen was sold after only four years to the company running the Hythe-Southampton ferries. The remaining three ferries covered services until 2001, when the first of two new ships arrived, the Spirit of Gosport. In the same year, the Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company Limited (PHFC) became the Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company PLC, a holding company for various subsidiaries, one of which is Gosport Ferry Limited, which continues to run the ferries. The green livery was changed slightly when the name was changed.


Gosport Ferries on the Thames
Of the eight traditional vessels, Vadne, Venus, Vesta, Vita, Ferry Belle, Ferry Prince, Ferry Princess and Ferry Queen, which passed to the Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company in 1963, seven were operating on the River Thames in 1981, mainly on the Westminster-Tower Pier-Greenwich route. Of these eight vessels, only Vadne remained in the Solent area, in use as the headquarters of the Gosport Yacht Club. Now derelict, her remains are on the shore of Forton Lake. Ferry Belle ran for Coakley's Launches and then Pearltarn by 1981, along with Varos which had been sold before the Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company was formed. They ran jointly with Thames Pleasure Craft (who owned Ferry Prince, Ferry Princess and Ferry Queen) and Woods River Services who owned Vita.  Thames Launches ran the Vesta on the same service, so that seven ex-Gosport ferries were running on the Westminster-Greenwich services in 1977. By 1981, Venus had joined them, running with Greenwich Pleasure Craft, making eight ex-Gosport ferries of which seven had passed to the Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company in 1963. The fleet was dispersed over the years; the last two boats running in the City being Vita and Ferry Queen which were converted to houseboats in 2009. The last working Gosport ferry on the Thames is now the Duchess M, previously the Vesta, which now operates the Tilbury-Gravesend ferry with the Lower Thames & Medway Passenger Boat Co. Older Gosport ferries which moved to the Thames included Viceroy (1901), Ferry Queen (1)(1908), & Vesta II (1909). Of these, Ferry Queen (1), later Wight Queen, still exists as a houseboat at Brentford.


Portsmouth Harbour Tours
Successors to the original watermen continued to offers trips around the harbour, from the Portsea pontoon and from the beach near Clarence Pier in Southsea. In the mid-1980s they formed Portsmouth Harbour Tours, and subsequently began operating a circular waterbus service around the attractions of Portsmouth Harbour. The boast remained owned by the individuals, but proceeds were shared between them proportionate to the number of boats deployed. All boats received a pale blue livery - they are often referred to as the "Blue Boats". The Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company (PHFC) initially joined this consortium, using two Blue Boats of their own, the Solent Prince and Solent Princess. PHFC left this consortium in 1996.
 
 
Sections on this Page:-
Watermen
Floating Bridge Company
Steam Ferries - the steam-powered traditional ferries
Diesel Ferries - the last three traditional ferries, which were diesel-powered
 
Ship Names on this Page:-
Ferry Belle (1924-1966)
Ferry King (1918-1960)
Ferry Prince (1939-1966)
Ferry Princess (1948-1968)
Ferry Queen (1) (1908-1956)
Ferry Queen (2) (1959-1974)
Princessa (1921-1958)
Sandringham (1900-1941)
Vadne (1937-1965)
Varos (1921-1952)
Venus (1948-1966)
Verda (1929-1958)
Vesta (1956-1974)
Vesta II (1909-1948)
Viceroy (1902-1929)
Vita (1960-1974)
 
Ship Names on Page 2:-
Gay Enterprise
Gosport Queen
Portsmouth Queen
Solent Enterprise
Solent Prince
Solent Princess
Southsea Queen
Spirit of Gosport
Spirit of Portsmouth
 
Solent Area Pages:-
Portsmouth Harbour Ferries - Page 1 - this page!
Portsmouth Harbour Ferries - Page 2
Spirit of Portsmouth Cruise: 7th September 2006
Blue Funnel Cruises
Hovertravel
Hythe-Southampton Ferries
Portsmouth Harbour Tours - The "Blue Boats"
Solent Steam Packet Ltd - SS Shieldhall
 
Associated Pages:-
UK Excursion Ships
Ferry Postcards
Cruise Ship Postcards
Ocean Liner Postcards
Simplon Postcards - Recent Updates
Simplon Postcards - Home Page
Simplon Facebook Page - Simplon Postcards facebook page
 
References:-
It's Shorter by Water - The Gosport Ferry 1875-2001 - Michael Wright (2001)
The Gosport Ferry - A Short History 1883-1983 - P.D.Childs (1983)
Crossing the Harbour - Leslie Burton & Brian Musselwhite (1987)
 
 
Search This Website:-

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Table of Ship Histories

Name

Other names

 Built
 Gay Enterprise  

 1974
 Gosport Queen  

 1966
 Portsmouth Queen  

 1966
 Solent Enterprise  

 1974
 Spirit of Gosport  

 2001
 Spirit of Portsmouth  

 2005






Watermen
 
Watermen have carried passengers across Portsmouth Harbour for many centuries, and the trade had been regulated by the Court of Exchequer since 1603, which gave the rights to operate the service exclusively to inhabitants of Gosport. These rights tended to be held within families, passed from generation to generation. This restriction allowed overcharging, and an Act of Parliament was introduced in 1809 to regulate pricing, although it took until 1835 before a fixed fare table was set and adhered to. The watermen used double-ended rowing boats know as wherries, which continued in use for many years after the coming of steam. There were two main routes across the harbour from Gosport, one to the Point (Old Portsmouth) and one to the Hard (Portsea - near the naval base).
 
Successors to the original watermen continued to offers trips around the harbour, from the Portsea pontoon and from the beach near Clarence Pier in Southsea. In the mid-1980s they formed Portsmouth Harbour Tours, and subsequently began operating a circular waterbus service around the attractions of Portsmouth Harbour. The boast remained owned by the individuals, but proceeds were shared between them proportionate to the number of boats deployed. All boats received a pale blue livery - they are often referred to as the "Blue Boats". The Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company (PHFC) initially joined this consortium, using two Blue Boats of their own, the Solent Prince and Solent Princess. PHFC left this consortium in 1996.
 
More photographs of the Blue Boats
 
 
This postcard shows two traditional watermen's wherries at the Gosport Pontoon.






Floating Bridge
 
The watermen's monopoly was broken in 1840, when a steam-powered floating bridge, guided by chains, started operation between Gosport and Old Portsmouth. The first ferry Victoria was soon joined by a second ferry, the Albert. These were subsequently replaced by the Alexandra and the Duchess of York. When the first railway in the area opened in 1841 to Gosport, the floating bridge received a lot of additional traffic. The floating bridge continued until 1959.
 
 
Postcard of the floating bridge.
 
 
Postcard of the floating bridge.
 
 
Postcard of the floating bridge.
 
 
Modern Frith's postcard of the floating bridge in 1882.
 
 
Photograph of the floating bridge at Old Portsmouth.
Photo: © Portsmouth City Museum.
 
 
Photograph of the floating bridge at Gosport.
Photo: © Portsmouth City Museum.
 
 
Photograph of the floating bridge Alexandra.






Steam Ferries
 
The watermen responded to the floating bridge by acquiring steam passenger ferries, which they operated from Gosport to the Hard. In 1875, the watermen formed the Gosport & Portsea Watermen's Steam Launch Company (known as the Old Company). The floating bridge company responded by operating their own passenger launches from Gosport to Old Portsmouth. When Portsmouth Harbour station opened in 1876, adjacent to the Hard, the Old Company's passenger ferries had a big advantage over those of the floating bridge. The success of the passenger ferries prompted the formation of the Port of Portsmouth Steam Launch & Towing Company in 1883, known as the New Company, who placed three steam launches on the same route as the Old Company. This led the Old Company to raise money for a fourth and fifth boat. Competition between the Old and New Companies was fierce, until collaborative arrangements were instigated in 1888. As the new city centre grew, the importance of Old Portsmouth declined, and the fortunes of the Floating Bridge Company declined with it.

The first group of postcards show ferries which have not been identified
If you can assist please contact: simplon@simplon.co.uk



Postcard of Gosport from the air, showing floating bridges and ferry pontoon
Scan: Graham Lewis
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Postcard of steam ferries at the Portsea Pontoon, with the Royal Yacht in the background.
 
 
Postcard of steam ferries at the Portsea Pontoon.
 
 
Modern Pamlyn postcard copy of the card above.
 
 
Postcard of steam ferries at the Portsea Pontoon, with HMS Renown or HMS Repulse in the background.
 
 
Postcard of steam ferries at the Gosport Pontoon.
 
 
Frith's postcard PTS.15.F of steam ferry arriving at Portsea.
 
 
Photograph of steam ferries at Gosport Pontoon.
Photo: © Frank Bottomley.
 
 
Photograph of steam ferries at Portsea Pontoon.
Royal Sovereign Class battleship behind.
Photo: © The News.
 
 
Langstone Series postcard 393 of steam ferries at the Gosport Pontoon.
 
 
Frith's postcard of a steam ferry at the Portsea pontoon.
Masts of HMS Victory are visible in the background.
The railway viaduct to the naval dockyard, behind the ferry, was dismantled many years ago.






Sandringham
(1900-1941)

Sandringham was built in 1900 for the Port of Portsmouth Floating Bridge Company. She was mainly intended for excursion work and replaced the Eva Mary. She was used by the War Department in WW2 and was not released until 1956 when she was sold to Solent Blue Line (later Blue Funnel Cruises). She was fitted with Gardner engines and ran until 1969. Her engines were used in the Venus.


Sandringham in service as a ferry at Gosport
Photo: Eric Payne
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Sandringham - Gosport Ferry - Photo:  Eric Payne - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Sandringham in Blue Funnel service in July 1959
Photo: Eric Payne
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Sandringham - Blue Funnel Cruises - Photo:  1959 Eric Payne - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Sandringham in Blue Funnel service
Photo: Eric Payne
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Sandringham - Blue Funnel Cruises - Photo:  Eric Payne - www.simplonpc.co.uk






Viceroy
(1902-1929)
 
Viceroy was built at Gosport for the Portsmouth-Gosport ferry service of the Port of Portsmouth Steam Launch & Towing Co in 1902. She moved to the Thames in 1929 for George Wheeler Launches, who kept her until 1946. Whilst reports indicate that she was re-engined as a diesel before entering service, the postcard below would indicate otherwise. Viceroy later served for PJ & RF Jackson of Hammersmith (1946-1964), Thames Launches (1965-1970), Jackson Bros (1971-1980) and River Rides Ltd (part of Catamaran Cruisers) from 1981. Viceroy was rebuilt as an enclosed double-decker for charter and service work in 1979. She ended her career as a houseboat on the River Medway.


Viceroy, at an unidentified pier.
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Viceroy - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Postcard of Viceroy in Teddington Lock, on the River Thames
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Viceroy at Westminster Pier
From Left->Right - unknown, Viceroy, unknown
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Viceroy - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Viceroy at Westminster Pier
Earlier, smaller edition of the card above
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Viceroy - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Viceroy at Westminster Pier
From Left->Right - Queen Elizabeth, St Keyne, Viceroy, unknown
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Viceroy - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Viceroy, passing the Royal Festival Hall in Thames service.
The red hull has been added by the postcard publisher
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Viceroy - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Viceroy in use as a houseboat on the River Medway
Photo: Catamaran Cruisers - Scan: The Liquid Highway
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Ferry Queen (1)
(1908-1956)
 
Ferry Queen was built in 1908 by Camper & Nicholson's of Gosport for Gosport & Portsea Waterman's Steam Launch Co. She was bought by Doug House of Ryde in 1956, who renamed her Wight Queen. House cooperated with Horace Barkham of Southampton (Solent Boating Co) in what was described as a loose partnership. She was re-engined with Gardner diesels in standard Solent Boating fashion, receiving their usual motorship funnel. It is believed that she passed to a Nejieris Yiallouros on the Thames in the 1970s. She remains as houseboat at Brentford.


Postcard of Ferry Queen as Wight Queen as a steamer at Ryde.
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Wight Queen off Ryde in Blue Funnel service
Photo: Eric Payne
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Wight Queen - Photo:  Eric Payne - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Wight Queen in use as a houseboat on the Thames
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 17th March 2009
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Wight Queen in use as a houseboat on the Thames
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 17th March 2009
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Wight Queen in use as a houseboat on the Thames
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 17th March 2009
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Vesta II
(1909-1948)
 
Vesta II was built by Camper & Nicholson for the Portsmouth-Gosport ferry service of the Port of Portsmouth Steam Launch & Towing Co in 1909. She was named Vesta II because there was another local Portsmouth boat (not on the ferry service) called Vesta. She moved to the Thames in 1948 for Mrs C.Hastings of Kingston. She was re-engined as a diesel and renamed Kingston Belle in 1949, ownership passing to H.G.Hastings, who owned her until 1954. In 1963 she returned to the Solent for Southampton Pleasure Cruises, but was out of service by 1982.


Vesta II near Broom Water, Teddington, on the River Thames
Photo: © David Lord
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Southampton Belle at Southampton in 1975
Photo: Ian Boyle, 1975
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Southampton Belle -  Photo: 1975 Ian Boyle - www.simplon.co.uk



Southampton Belle at Southampton in 1976
Photo: Ian Boyle, 15th April 1976
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Southampton Belle -  Photo: 1976 Ian Boyle - www.simplon.co.uk



Southampton Belle out of service at Southampton in 1983
Photo: Ian Boyle, 1983
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Southampton Belle -  Photo: 1983 Ian Boyle - www.simplon.co.uk






Ferry King
(1918-1960)
 
Ferry King was built by Camper & Nicholson in Gosport for the Gosport & Portsea Waterman's Steam Launch Company in 1918. She was sold to the Solent Boating Company, later Blue Funnel Cruises, in 1962, and rebuilt with diesel engine and deckhouse. She was renamed Solent Queen and cruised with them until 1984. She later ran as the Crystal Rose in Waterford, and later became derelict. Michael Byrne is currently restoring her.


Postcard of Ferry King of the "Old Company".



Solent Queen and Verda at Ryde in 1977.
Photo: © Ian Boyle
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Solent Queen at Southampton in 1982
Photo: Ian Boyle, 1982
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Solent Queen



Crystal Rose stripped to hull and floating again for the first time in 20 years in 2008
Photo: © Michael Byrne
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Princessa
(1921-1965)

Princessa was built by Camper & Nicholson in Gosport for the Port of Portsmouth Floating Bridge Company in 1921. She was intended for use as an excursion vessel rather than a harbour ferry. Princessa was used on trips around Portsmouth Harbour and across the Solent to Seaview. She was powered by a 2-cylinder compound engine by Plenty of Newbury. She was bought by the Solent Boating Company (Blue Funnel Cruises) and fitted with a Gardner diesel engine and small deckhouse. Princessa was employed on Southampton Water and the Beaulieu River until 1986, when she moved to Falmouth to work for the Pill family. Since 2001 she has been run by John Pill (as Falmouth Pleasure Cruises), and operates morning and afternoon cruises to the Helford River. She is the largest excursion boat on the River Fal. See www.boattrips-falmouth.co.uk for details.


Princessa at Southampton Royal Pier on 15th April 1976.
Photo: Ian Boyle
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Princessa at Ryde in 1977
Photo: John Hendy, 1977
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Princessa - Blue Funnel cruises - Photo:  John Hendy, 1977 - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Princessa at Southampton in 1982
Photo: Ian Boyle, 1982
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Princessa



Princessa at Southampton in 1982
Photo: Ian Boyle, 1982
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Princessa



Princessa at Portsmouth in 1985
Photo: John Hendy, 1985
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Princessa



Princessa arriving at the Prince of Wales Pier, in service with Falmouth Pleasure Cruises
Photo: Ian Boyle, 23rd July 2008
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Princessa leaving the Prince of Wales Pier for her moorings, in service with Falmouth Pleasure Cruises
Photo: Ian Boyle, 23rd July 2008
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Varos
(1921-1952)

Varos was built in 1929 at Millwall for the Port of Portsmouth Steam Launch & Towing Company. She was sold to the Solent Boating Company (Blue Funnel Cruises) in the early 1950s, but was withdrawn in in 1974, passing to Coakley's Launches on the Thames in 1976, who also bought the Ferry Belle. She ran from Westminster and Tower Pier to Greenwich jointly with Thames Pleasure Craft (who owned Ferry Prince, Ferry Princess and Ferry Queen) and Woods River Services who owned Vita. Six ex-Gosport ferries were running on the Greenwich services in 1977.


Varos at Southampton
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Varos off Netley on 29th June 1966
Photo: John Hendy, 1966
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VAROS - Photo:  John Hendy, 1966 - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Varos on the Thames, 5th March 1978
Photo: Ian Boyle
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Ferry Belle
(1924-1966)

Ferry Belle was built for the Gosport & Portsea Waterman's Steam Launch Company in 1924 by Camper & Nicholson of Gosport.  In 1961 she passed to the Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company. She was retained as a reserve ferry until 1965 when she was sold to John Coakley on the Thames, running for Coakley's Launches between Westminster, Tower Pier and Greenwich. In 1981 she was running for Pearltarn along with the Varos.


ex-Gosport ferry Ferry Belle running on the Thames
Photo: John Hendy 6th August 1968,
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FERRY BELLE - ex-Gosport Ferry - Photo: 1988 John Hendy - www.simplonpc.co.uk



ex-Gosport ferry Ferry Belle running on the Thames
Photo: John Hendy 1977,
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FERRY BELLE - ex-Gosport Ferry - Photo: 1977 John Hendy - www.simplonpc.co.uk



ex-Gosport ferry Ferry Belle at Isleworth on the Thames in August 1991
Photo: John Hendy 1991,
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FERRY BELLE - ex-Gosport Ferry - Photo: 1991 John Hendy - www.simplonpc.co.uk






Verda
(1929-1958)
 
Verda was built in Millwall for the Port of Portsmouth Steam Launch & Towing Company in 1929. She was used on the Gosport crossing. She was powered by a 2-cylinder compound engine by Plenty of Newbury. She was bought by the Solent Boating Company and fitted with a Gardner diesel engine and small deckhouse. Verda was employed on Southampton harbour tours, and other Solent cruises. She survived in 2008 as a bizarre house boat at Shoreham.
 
 
Verda leaving Portsmouth in May 1975 with Blue Funnel Cruises.
Photo: © Ian Boyle
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Solent Queen and Verda at Ryde in 1977.
Photo: © Ian Boyle
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ex-Gosport ferry Verda  at Ryde
Photo: John Hendy, August 1978,
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VERDA - ex-Gosport Ferry - Photo: 1978 John Hendy - www.simplonpc.co.uk



ex-Gosport ferry Verda  at Ryde
Photo: John Hendy, August 1978,
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VERDA - ex-Gosport Ferry - Photo: 1978 John Hendy - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Verda in use as a house boat at Shoreham
There is a second bus on the other side.
Photo: © John Hendy, 24th February 2008
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Verda in use as a house boat at Shoreham
Photo: © John Hendy, 24th February 2008
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ex-Gosport ferry Verda  at Shoreham
Photo: John Hendy, 21st November 2010,
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VERDA - ex-Gosport Ferry - Photo: 1965 Alan Jux - www.simplonpc.co.uk






Vadne
(1937-1965)

Vadne was built for the Port of Portsmouth Steam Launch & Towing Company in 1939 by Vosper of Portsmouth, the first Portsmouth ferry that they built. She was requisitioned almost immediately by the Navy, and was shipped to Freetown in 1943, returning to her owners in 1946. In 1961 she passed to the Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company. She was retained as a reserve ferry until 1965 when she was sold to the Gosport Cruising Club for use as their headquarters. She remains in derelict condition on the shore at Forton Lake, Gosport.


Gosport ferry Vadne lying derelict an the shore of Forton Lake, Gosport
Photo: Andrew Berry, 7th November 2010,
VADNE - Gosport Ferry - Photo: 2010 Andrew Berry - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Gosport ferry Vadne lying derelict an the shore of Forton Lake, Gosport
Photo: Andrew Berry, 7th November 2010,
VADNE - Gosport Ferry - Photo: 2010 Andrew Berry - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Gosport ferry Vadne lying derelict an the shore of Forton Lake, Gosport
Photo: Andrew Berry, 7th November 2010,
VADNE - Gosport Ferry - Photo: 2010 Andrew Berry - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Gosport ferry Vadne lying derelict an the shore of Forton Lake, Gosport
Photo: Andrew Berry, 7th November 2010,
VADNE - Gosport Ferry - Photo: 2010 Andrew Berry - www.simplonpc.co.uk






Ferry Prince
(1939-1966)


Ferry Prince was built for the Gosport & Portsea Waterman's Steam Launch Company in 1939, passing almost immediately to the Navy for use as an examination vessel. She was returned in 1941 and returned to ferry service. Maybe all the naval requisitions had reduced ferry capacity too much. In 1961 she passed to the Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company. She was retained as a reserve ferry until 1966 when she was sold to Thames Pleasure Craft who initially ran her as a steamship. She was dieselized in 1967. Thames Pleasure Craft fleet mates in 1981 included Ferry Princess and Ferry Queen.


Postcard of Ferry Prince of the "Old Company".



ex-Gosport ferry Ferry Prince  running on the Thames, still steam-powered
Photo: Alan Jux 1965,
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FERRY PRINCE - ex-Gosport Ferry - Photo: 1965 Alan Jux - www.simplonpc.co.uk



ex-Gosport ferry Ferry Prince  running on the Thames after conversion to diesel in 1967
Photo: John Hendy 1976,
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FERRY PRINCE - ex-Gosport Ferry - Photo: 1977 John Hendy - www.simplonpc.co.uk





Ferry Prince in use as a house boat at Colchester in 2012
Photo: Derek Sands, 31st January 2012
FERRY QUEEN - www.simplonpc.co.uk - Photo:  Derek Sands, 31st January 2012FERRY QUEEN - www.simplonpc.co.uk - Photo:  Derek Sands, 31st January 2012







Venus
(1948-1966)

Venus was built for the Port of Portsmouth Steam Launch & Towing Company in 1948 by  Camper & Nicholson, Gosport, for the Gosport & Portsea Waterman's Steam Launch Company in 1948. In 1961 she passed to the Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company. She was retained as a reserve ferry and excursion steamer until 1968 when she was sold to Solent Boating Company (Blue Funnel Cruises). Venus ran as a steamship for Blue Funnel for two years before receiving the diesel engines from the Sandringham. She was sold to Greenwich Pleasurecraft on the Thames in 1978.


Venus at Gosport after being withdrawn
Photo: John Hendy 1966,
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VENUS - Gosport Ferry - Photo: 2010 Andrew Berry - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Venus at Southampton Royal Pier in 1966 in Blue Funnel service
She initially retained her steamer funnel - Photo: Ian Boyle 1968,
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VENUS - Blue Funnel Cruises- Photo: 1966 Ian Boyle - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Venus at Southampton Royal Pier in 1966
Photo: Ian Boyle 1968,
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VENUS - Blue Funnel Cruises- Photo: 1966 Ian Boyle - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Venus in Portsmouth harbour in June 1974.
Photo: © Ian Boyle
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Ferry Princess
(1948-1968)


Ferry Princess was built by Camper & Nicholson, Gosport, for the Gosport & Portsea Waterman's Steam Launch Company in 1948. In 1961 she passed to the Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company. She was retained as a reserve ferry and excursion steamer until 1968 when she was sold to Thames Pleasure Craft who converted her to diesel power before entering service. Thames Pleasure Craft fleet mates in 1981 included Ferry Prince and Ferry Queen.


Postcard of Ferry Princess of the "Old Company".



Gosport ferry Ferry Princess on the Thames at Tower Pier in the 1970s
FERRY PRINCESS - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Vita and Ferry Princess at Westminster with Wood's Cruises in September 1977
Photo: John Hendy 1977,
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VITA - Photo: 1977 John Hendy - www.simplonpc.co.uk









Diesel Ferries
 
The three last "traditional" Portsmouth ferries were the Vesta (1956), Ferry Queen (1959) and Vita (1960). They were all diesel-powered, but otherwise the design had changed little in 80 years. All three remain in service on the Thames, Vesta as the Duchess M on the Tilbury-Gravesend ferry, and Vita & Ferry Queen with City Cruises. Their lives on the Portsmouth-Gosport ferry were fairly short, being replaced by the Portsmouth Queen and Gosport Queen in 1966. The three vessels were retained until the mid-1970s as reserve vessels and for use on seasonal harbour tours.
 
 
 
Vesta (1956-1974)
 
Vesta was sold to Thames Pleasure Craft in 1974, but was running for Thames Launches by 1977. She passed to Arthur Green as the Duchess M in 1978, and then to D.C & W.Tours in 1981. By 1983 Duchess M was under the Capital Cruises banner. In 1991 she was on the River Tyne running charter cruises for Rolls Royce Limousine Hire, passing to River Tyne Cruises by 1995, when her fleet mates were the Catharine (ex-Tilbury-Gravesend) and Island Scene (ex-Blue Funnel). In 1997 Duchess M was back on the Thames at Southend, running services to Queenborough and Strood, plus local sea cruises. Her running mate was the Maid of the Forth. By 1999, Duchess M was the sole fleet member, and was sold in 2002 to the Lower Thames & Medway Passenger Boat Co for use on the Tilbury-Gravesend ferry, where she remains in 2006.
 
 
Duchess M leaving Gravesend West Street Pier for Tilbury
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 5th May 2006
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Ferry Queen (2) (1959-1974)
 
Ferry Queen was built in 1959 for service on the Portsmouth-Gosport ferry. She was sold to Thames Pleasure Craft, where she ran with the other ex-Gosport ferries Ferry Prince and Ferry Princess. Ferry Queen passed to City Cruises c.1995, and remained with them in 2006. She was offered for sale in 2006 and remained at the boatyard in Isleworth. Vita saw additional use in 2006 because of this. However, both Vita and Ferry Queen saw extensive use in 2007.
 
More images of Ferry Queen
 
 
Photograph of Ferry Queen of the "Old Company" on trials.
Photo: © Beken of Cowes.
 
 
Ferry Queen remains in service on the Thames in 2006 with City Cruises.
Photograph: ©2007 Ian Boyle






Vita (1960-1974)
 
Vita was built in 1959 for service on the Portsmouth-Gosport ferry service. She was the last of the traditional ferries delivered, albeit diesel-powered from the start. She was kept as a spare boat on for seasonal harbour cruises until 1974 after the arrival of the modern Portsmouth Queen and Gosport Queen in 1966. She was bought by Woods Cruises for use on the Thames, passing to City Cruises c.1999, with whom she remained in service until 2009 when she was sold to become a houseboat.

More images of Vita


Vita and Ferry Princess at Westminster with Wood's Cruises in September 1977
Photo: John Hendy 1977,
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VITA - Photo: 1977 John Hendy - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Vita remained in service on the Thames until 2009 with City Cruises, but was then sold for use as a houseboat.
Photograph: ©2007 Ian Boyle.






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