Columnist David Gary is the author of a new book about the Gosport Ferry – Going Over The Water. Here he reflects on his passion for the ferry.
I wanted to write this book because the Gosport Ferry occupies a special place in people’s lives.
Day in, day out, the ferry calmly plies back and forth across Portsmouth Harbour.
The vessels themselves have changed over the years – from steamboats with open decks, where passengers were exposed to the elements, to the comfortable diesel craft of today with their heated saloons.
Nobody takes much notice of the ferry – nobody takes that much notice of their own heart until it falters – and the ferry is a bit like that.
You can’t rush it, and there is nearly always a sense of calm on the jetty because you can track the ferry with your own eyes.
It’s always visible to the expectant passenger.
It’s one thing to research the history of the ferries themselves, but they are only part of the story.
It’s the passengers who bring the ferry to life.
They bring anecdotes and emotions – from love to hate, from desperation to joy.
So I wanted to bring some of those stories to the book, in order to shed some light on the social history of the ferry service.
In the course of research, my wife came with me to coffee mornings in care homes, helping residents reminisce.
Every story we were told was rich in memory and historical significance.
So the finished book contains dozens of these stories, contributed by people from Gosport, Portsmouth and further afield.
Among the tales are the ferry that got lost in the fog, the man who misjudged the leap from the pontoon, and ended up in the water and the docker who met the girl of his dreams on board.
There is also the girl whose stiletto heel stuck between the boards of the pontoon, and even the story of the dog that travelled on the first ferry every morning – on his own – to go to Portsmouth meat market for a bone.
n Going Over The Water is not available online.
If you would like a copy, pop in to Chaplin Books, in Eliza Place, Gosport. Alternatively, pick the book up from Gosport Tourist Information Centre or The Book Shop at Lee-on-the-Solent.