Hovercraft is an important symbol of a bygone era

Cheryl, left, with bride and groom Kelly and James, centre, and her husband James. Picture: Georgia Stanhope

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Even now the hovercraft can still cause a sense of wonderment.

When Eddie Izzard came to headline the Southsea Comedy Festival on The Common in 2014, he heard a loud noise outside. He initially thought it was someone landing a plane nearby until someone in the audience shouted out that it was the Isle of Wight hovercraft coming in to land.

The comic was so excited by the prospect of seeing it that he ran out the tent with his microphone still on.

Perhaps for those of us living around here and for whom it is a regular sight, we have become somewhat blase about the hovercraft and how special it is.

The Solent run is, after all, the only commercial hovercraft route in Europe.

But one only needs to see the tourists here in the summer watching in rapt attention as it comes and goes to realise what a marvel of engineering it is.

Now imagine how impressive something five times the size of the Solent hovercraft would be.

That is how big the Princess Anne hovercraft is. She once crossed the English Channel in less than half-an-hour, but was withdrawn from service in 2000 and replaced by catamarans.

Since then Princess Anne and her sister hovercraft Princess Margaret have been at the Hovercraft Museum in Gosport.

And now, unless there is a last-minute miracle, it looks as if both are to be broken up.

For these magnificent machines to be dismantled would be such a tragedy.

They represent British engineering at its finest – and not only that, they were built over on the Isle of Wight.

While they may not possess the romantic allure of Concorde – several of those iconic supersonic jets have been kept for posterity around the world – it would be sad if these feats from another era were to be lost to future generations.