Anyone fancy buying an old car ferry to cut Gosport’s road jams

The floating bridge Alexandra which crossed between Old Portsmouth and Gosport from 1865-1892
The floating bridge Alexandra which crossed between Old Portsmouth and Gosport from 1865-1892

Boys who became men when HMS Havant rescued thousands from Dunkirk

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Derek Fry poses an interesting question in relation to the driving into and out of Gosport during rush hours.

He wonders if there’s an entrepreneur out there who could buy a redundant Isle of Wight car ferry and carry vehicles across the harbour from Portsmouth to Gosport.

The Duchess of York floating bridge between Gosport and Point, Old POrtsmouth

The Duchess of York floating bridge between Gosport and Point, Old POrtsmouth

Derek, of Festing Grove, Southsea, asks because he would like to know how many readers also remember using the Gosport chain car ferry which ran from Point, Old Portsmouth to Gosport.

He recalls the ‘deafening noise’ made by the two chains which entered the underside at the front and exited at the rear after passing through the pulling machinery.

Derek says: ‘The one I remember was named Alexandria. It ran at a fast walking speed and took about 10 minutes to cross. It was taken out of service about 1960.

‘I used the ferry daily while teaching at a school at Alverstoke and in my old Morris 8 it would take about 20 minutes from the Portsmouth side.’

He adds: ‘To complete the journey now, going round by land and using the roads that run down the spine of Gosport, can take an hour or more.’

The Port of Portsmouth Floating Bridge Company began operating the first regular ferry service across Portsmouth Harbour from Point to Gosport on May 4, 1840, using steam-powered chain ferries.

The original vessels were called Victoria and Albert. The former was sold in 1864 and replaced the following year by Alexandra, seen in the picture above.

She was replaced in 1892 by Duchess of York, below.

The service was sometimes erratic and queues long, but, in the era of the horse, delays were preferable to the day’s journey it took to reach Gosport by road.

After the Second World War the company’s financial state became increasingly parlous and the service ended on December 15, 1959.