Powers-that-be need to know these craft have to be saved

They're as important as Concorde, the steam train Mallard, the Vulcan bomber and HMS Warrior '“ yet the world's last two car-carrying cross-Channel hovercraft are on the brink of being destroyed.

Thursday, 4th February 2016, 9:46 am
Updated Thursday, 4th February 2016, 9:50 am
The SRN4 hovercraft The Princess Anne

How they came to be in this sorry situation is a long story that started in 2000 when Hoverspeed, owned by former Wightlink owners Sea Containers, withdrew them from service after 33 years.

As they were such specialist craft, the company knew no other operator would want them.

So it sold them to a private individual who wanted them, among other things, for their precious Proteus gas turbine engines.

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He wanted them for his own boat, a former naval patrol vessel that was fitted with the same engines. I’d say that was hardly a vessel of importance when compared with these historic hovercraft.

With a view to keeping them safe and preserving them for the nation, the Hovercraft Museum at Lee-on-the-Solent has stored the craft for this gentleman.

But as the development of the Daedalus site begins, it turns out the hovercraft are now in the way. As the land has now passed to the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA), it has had to ask the owner for them to be moved.

It seems that the owner finally agreed to hand over ownership to the HCA for scrapping. And now, the hovercraft’s fate hangs in the balance – and so a campaign has been launched to persuade the HCA to ensure at least one of them is saved for the future.

Now I’m sure all this is an inconvenience and expense to the HCA.

But if planes, ships and trains can be preserved because of their historical importance, then so should these hovercraft.

If, like me you feel strongly that these British-designed and locally-built craft should be saved, follow the Hovercraft Museum on Facebook and sign the official petition.

They are part of our maritime history and for them to be scrapped at the drop of a hat would be outrageous.

The powers-that-be need to know that these craft must be saved.