HISTORY was made as the world’s largest hovercraft opened its doors for the first time in four years.
The Hovercraft Museum, in Lee-on-the-Solent, saved one of two SRN4 hovercraft thanks to a campaign that was backed by more than 23,000 signatures.
The Princess Anne, which used to take passengers from Dover to Calais in 30 minutes, had been out of use since being taken out of service 16 years ago.
After striking a deal with the Housing Communities Agency, campaigners finally got the keys to the SRN4 and got the first glimpse of what the craft is like inside since 2012.
Warwick Jacob, a trustee of the Hovercraft Museum, said: ‘We were absolutely delighted when we found out we could have the keys to the hovercraft and could not wait to open it.
‘We didn’t know what to expect when we opened it really. We thought we could have seen foxes or bats, we’ve even had badgers in there before.’
‘We didn’t know what to expect when we opened it really. We though we could have seen foxes or bats, we’ve even had badgers in there before.’Warwick Jacob
‘It used to get up to 80mph and would only take 30 minutes to cross the Channel. The likes of Princess Anne and David Bowie have travelled on it before.
‘We’re hoping to get a royal visit from Princess Anne when we have the hovercraft all done up again.’
Although the Princess Margaret model is set to be sent to the scrapyard, many of its components will be moved across to The Princess Anne, although it won’t be going back out on the water.
Operations manager Ben Avery said: ‘It’s now all hands on deck to get Anne sparkling again over the winter.
‘We’ll be painting her the red, white and blue colour she was and be moving the propellers from Margaret over. A few of the other bits will be going to museums in France as they played a big part over the years.’