We have a visitor in Portsmouth Harbour at the moment. Anchored just north of the Gosport Ferry pontoon is an unusual-looking ship.
It’s the former Cowes chain ferry, or floating bridge as we call it on the island. She has just been retired after 40 years of service between East and West Cowes, crossing the River Medina.
It had been hoped to find her some new owners, but she is very much a unique craft and there cannot be many places in the world where this chain ferry would be needed.
Her age is also something against her, as she looks very tired now. Plus, she was built in an era when cars were smaller, so her capacity is now much reduced thanks to all those 4x4s.
Of course, this has sparked a bit of a debate on social media. Firstly, what is this boat? And why is it where it is?
Many have speculated she is to pioneer a trial run of the return of our the floating bridge that finished service in the harbour back in 1959.
Two chain ferries connected Gosport to Broad Street in Old Portsmouth.
But both slipways are long gone. On the Gosport side, the old slipway and shoreline was redeveloped and built into the new seawall and the esplanade we see today.
It’s the same story at Portsmouth, with the seating area in front of the Still & West pub being where the ferries once arrived.
Out of interest, the original Isle of Wight car ferry slipway is still there off Broad Street.
If such a service existed today, it would be hugely successful. Imagine beating the A32 queues by driving on to one of these ships.
Sadly, I reckon the demand would see massive queues for this service too, making it counter-productive.
Secondly, the Admiralty does not want chains laid on the harbour bed.
This was the same reason a tunnel could not be built for a proposed tram service linking the town with its neighbouring city.
So no, this chain ferry isn’t destined for a new harbour ferry service.
It’s destined to become razor blades...
TOP 40 WOULD ALL BE BEATLES TRACKS IF THEY HAD STREAMING
I can’t remember the last time I listened to the Top 40 on the radio.
Tell me, does Bruno Brookes still do it on a Sunday afternoon?
Must be boring for whoever does it these days, as only four songs in this week’s Top 20 weren’t by Ed Sheeran! Phenomenal.
Then again, it shows how many people are streaming his new album as well as those downloading or physically buying it.
With this in mind, though, I bet the entire Top 40 would be Beatles records if such technology existed back in 1964. Can you imagine how many people would have streamed their songs?
I still remember the excitement when Duran Duran’s Is There Something I Should Know? debuted at No 1 back in 1983.
DAYS OF BUNNYHOPPING AND NEGOTIATING THE HILLS OF RYDE
We seem to have more than our fair share of learner drivers around the streets of Alverstoke.
It probably has something to do with our village being one of the main testing routes from the new driving test centre at Lee-on-the-Solent.
I remember those days. My cousin was an instructor and I loved driving his three-year-old Vauxhall Nova. It was a 1.2 litre Sprint and really sharp.
It was miles better than my mum’s red Skoda Super Estelle 120!
I recall bunnyhopping along Ryde Esplanade until I was competent enough to go on the open road whenever I’m stuck behind an L plate.
The worst thing about Ryde? Hill starts.
Not a problem in Alverstoke!