RICK JACKSON: Let’s cherish the hovercraft as a Great British tradition

The Solent Flyer hovercraft in Southsea Picture: Mike Harvey
The Solent Flyer hovercraft in Southsea Picture: Mike Harvey
Have your say

I’ve always been a massive fan of the hovercraft

Still every arrival and departure sees people stop and watch.

Emily Watson and Ben Chaplin in Apple Tree Yard

Emily Watson and Ben Chaplin in Apple Tree Yard

For visitors, they are very much an important attraction to Portsmouth as the Spinnaker Tower and HMS Victory.

I’m talking about the hovercraft.

With over 50 years of continuous service, the route is currently facing one of its biggest challenges.

On the outside, all looks fine, but after £10m investment in a new design of craft, this is make or break time and sadly, the new craft aren’t proving to be a success.

It’s a unique experience, lifting up off the pad and hovering over land and sea. On a calm day, speeds of up to 50mph are reached and the crossing made in as little as seven minutes.

The current craft are around 30 years old and of a design from even earlier, so the decision was made to build a new craft to secure the routes future.

Designed by Hovertravel and owners Griffin Hoverwork, the new craft arrived in the summer. They look futuristic and offer a new, modern and comfortable interior, akin to modern aircraft.

Sadly, they are not proving to be as robust as the craft they are due to replace. Whether it’s an issue of being underpowered, uncomfortable at sea or slower to load, work is under this is make or break time way to correct this.

As the old craft soldier on, cancellations of crossing are testing many loyal commuters.

Rivals Wightlink have seized upon this opportunity with large adverts cheekily highlighting their ‘reliable service’ near to Hovertravel’s terminals.

I’ve always been a massive fan of the hovercraft.

They are a typically eccentric way to travel for us eccentric Brits!

I’ve always felt a little proud of the ‘hover’ explaining to confused ‘grockles’ how they work as they watch in awe.

I have no doubt Hovertravel will sort the new craft’s issues and they will prove to be popular.

In the meantime, perhaps a trip to 
the beach in Ryde with the kids is in order.

Great drama – but why must everyone mumble so much?

There have been some awesome dramas on the TV recently.

ITV gave us the superb Unforgotten and the BBC Apple Tree Yard. Now the Beeb have just started showing SS-GB.

Set in post-war Britain, it shows what life would have been like if we had lost the Second World War.

Superb acting and awesome graphics show the Houses of Parliament with swastika flags draped over the side, Buckingham Palace half-destroyed and a tough curfew in place.

Sadly, the dialogue at times is inaudible. With lots of mumbling you turn the volume up, only for the next scene to blow out your eardrums. Surely the BBC can afford more than ‘Fisher Price My First Microphones’ can’t they?

Getting medical help when you live in Gosport is hard

We have two poorly children at the moment. Both now are on antibiotics as Freddie has his third chest infection and Holly with an ear infection.

The care they have received has been great, but getting help in the first place is difficult.

Sadly, Gosport no longer has a walk-in centre open seven days a week. With the War Memorial Hospital closed and Haslar a long forgotten memory we have to call 111.

After explaining we haven’t been to Outer Mongolia recently, we are told to take Holly to the QA in Cosham. This 30-odd minute drive seems daft as we drive past the War Memorial to get there.

Thank goodness we have a car, we’d still be travelling if we didn’t.