WE NEED to save this iconic piece of history.
That is the message from thousands of people who have signed a petition to save the largest hovercraft in the world.
Almost 10,000 people have backed an online bid to prevent the Princess Anne hovercraft from being scrapped.
The 250-ton SRN4 vessel, along with sister hovercraft Princess Margaret, is the last of its kind and is under threat as the site they are kept on, next to the Hovercraft Museum on Daedalus in Lee-on-the-Solent, is being sold.
Trustees are trying to save the Princess Anne by handing in a petition to the Homes and Communities Agency.
The HCA owns the land at Daedalus where the hovercrafts are kept but wants to sell it for housing and business development, meaning there will be nowhere to house the vessels.
As a result, the private owner of the hovercrafts is set to scrap them.
The Princess Margaret, which is in a worse condition than Princess Anne, will be broken up. But the bid is on to save the latter, with more than 9,800 people signing the petition to keep it as of last night.
Hovercraft Museum trustee Emma Pullen said: ‘The SRN4s are the centre point of the museum and our most important exhibits.
‘Many people come simply to see these huge relics from a bygone age and their loss would be an enormous blow to the museum. But more important than that is the fact that they are piece of British history, the like of which we will never see again.’
The SRN4’s are the centre point of the museum and our most important exhibits.Emma Pullen
Emma added: ‘The final decision is out of our hands and this has all happened at very short notice but we will do everything in our powers to protect at least one of these national treasures.’
As previously reported in The News the museum only reopened in January after years of repair works to the main hangers.
James Warren, from Gosport, visited the attraction just after the grand opening. He said: ‘These are iconic pieces of history – not just in our local history but as a country. We need to do all we can to save them. They are significant and need to be protected for future generations to enjoy.
‘We can’t let this part of history end with the SRN4s being scrapped.’
Warwick Jacobs, a museum trustee, said he has been overwhelmed with the level of public support. He said: ‘It has been great to have so much support.
‘We want to try to make sure that the Princess Anne can be saved at the 11th hour.
‘Everyone has a memory of them but the future generations won’t even know they existed if they can’t come and see them. They can’t be replaced.
‘They are the flagship of the industry and have such international importance as well as locally.’
The hovercrafts were built on the Isle of Wight by the British Hovercraft Corporation in the 1970s and crossed the Channel from both Dover and Pegwell Bay before being replaced in 2000 by a catamaran service.
To sign the petition visit chn.ge/1PPIMlx
Politicians want vessel to fit in with Daedalus plans
GOSPORT MP Caroline Dinenage has welcomed the petition to save the SRN4 hovercraft from being scrapped.
But she has spoke about the importance of the Solent Enterprise Zone at Daedalus where the Princess Anne is kept.
Ms Dinenage said: ‘I am hopeful that a deal can be struck which will enable the Hovercraft Museum to gain an important addition to their collection that adds to the site and does not distract from developing Daedalus. It is very important in the creation of jobs and the economic prosperity of the area.’
Lee-on-the-Solent ward councillor John Beavis agreed. He added: ‘It would be great if it could be saved as long as it fits in with the plans of the development of the site.’