GOSPORT’S new ferry pontoon has finally arrived in Portsmouth Harbour after a tricky journey across the North Sea.
The £5m pontoon was towed into the harbour yesterday morning, ready for installation work to begin at the weekend.
It has travelled hundreds of miles from the Netherlands where it was built.
The pontoon was due to arrive in the harbour last week but rough seas and high winds meant it had to stop in Margate after crossing the sea.
Councillor Mark Hook, the leader of Gosport Borough Council, said: ‘It’s well worth the £5m. It looks a lot lighter visually than the old one.
‘It will be so much better for passengers.
‘I look forward to it being installed this weekend.
‘Only in Britain could things get held up for the weather in this way but you can understand why it was shored up in Margate.
‘We will have a lot of people coming down at the weekend to watch it being installed.
‘After all, it only happens every 60 or 70 years.’
Shoppers in Gosport’s High Street walked down to the seafront to watch the giant steel structure being carried in.
Brenda Riley, 64, was sitting in the Falklands Gardens when the new pontoon went past.
‘I didn’t know what it was at first but then I realised it must be the new pontoon,’ said Brenda, of Park Gate, Fareham.
‘I use the ferry quite a lot and have been looking forward to this. I have bad knees and the pontoon they’ve got now makes it difficult for me to catch the ferry sometimes because the walkway can be so steep.
‘It was quite an unusual sight watching it go past. It will be really good, especially in the summer.’
The new pontoon is expected to open on Monday morning. In the meantime, passengers will have to catch the ferry from nearby Endeavour Quay.
The council now says cycles and pushchairs can be taken on the ferry over the weekend.
But there will still be no access for wheelchairs, motorbikes or mobility scooters.
Taylor Rogers, 21, of Beryton Road, Gosport, said: ‘It looks really good. It’s going to be much better than the one they’ve got at the moment.
‘I thought I would come down here and see it coming past today as it’s not something you see often.’
The old pontoon will be dismantled and taken away at about 10pm on Friday.
Construction firm Trant will then take it to Portchester Creek for disposal.
The new structure will be put in place throughout the day on Saturday.