THE first passengers to visit Portsmouth International Port’s new terminal have given it their seal of approval.
First to check in were a group of schoolchildren from Somerset, heading to Normandy for an exchange trip.
Their French teacher, Nick Lecharpentier, said: ‘I think it’s brilliant. It’s going to serve all the needs of the customers.’
And the first passenger through the arrivals door was Sarah Long, an ex-pat visiting her family.
She was handed a bottle of champagne and a certificate.
She said: ‘I’ve used the ferry port so often it’s nice to think I’m part of its history now.’
The glass and stone-clad building has been three years in development, a year in the building, and is part of a £16.5m project which also sees road access and car passenger kiosk improvements.
The old ferry terminal, a prefab building designed only to last eight years, but which has survived for the past 30, will be demolished in the coming weeks, allowing an uninterrupted view of the port from the new terminal’s balcony.
Ray Tutt, a retired building surveyor who helped build the old terminal, and who maintained it for the past 25 years, said: ‘It’s sad to see the old building go after so long looking after it, but it is overdue.
‘I think the new terminal is absolutely fabulous, a magnificent building.’
Neil Chapman, who works for a yacht brokers in Gosport and who was travelling to Guernsey yesterday morning, agreed.
‘I think it’s absolutely superb,’ he said.
The handover from the old terminal to the new one was completed in one night, with port staff volunteering to help.
Port manager Martin Putman told The News: ‘There are a lot of people who have worked very hard to make this possible, and we’re very pleased with how it’s gone.’