By Connor Steel
ONE OF GOSPORT’S famous ferries gave residents a sense of nostalgia this weekend as it briefly returned to harbour waters on Saturday afternoon, the boat called ‘Portsmouth Queen’ stopping during a trip from Ramsgate to Guernsey due to poor weather conditions in the Channel.
The historic ferry served pedestrians and cyclists for nearly fifty years, having entered service in 1966 alongside its identical sister vessel Gosport Queen. Painted in green and white to reflect branding, it quickly became a symbol of people’s daily commutes and tourist visits across the generations.
Having run alongside three new and modern vessels including Harbour Spirit, it was decided that Portsmouth Queen be sold to Absolute Charters in early 2016; its identical ferry Gosport Queen later sold to company London Party Boats in January 2017 and is now called The Pearl of London.
Portsmouth Queen made its final Gosport crossing on February 29, 2016, and was originally due to be refurbished into a party boat on the River Thames; hence its change in colour to white and the rename of London Queen shortly after it was moved to the area in March the same year.
However this initial plan didn’t materialise as scheduled and the vessel was put back on sale; being located off Queenborough, Isle of Sheppey, Kent over recent times. It has now been purchased and is set to become a floating café in St Peter Port, Guernsey, with a new name of Panache.
The news of its return saw many photographs shared on social media such as the one above taken by Tony Weaver, drawing comments as local residents shared their memories of either travelling or watching the iconic ferry during its decades of service across Gosport and Portsmouth
One Globe reader reflected with a smile: “Although it needs a good clean it was wonderful to see the ferry back where it belongs. I remember travelling to the Dockyard on the ferries for work and for leisure activities; so many memories with colleagues, friends and families were shared on that little boat”.
PICTURED BY TONY WEAVER: Portsmouth Queen (now London Queen) rests on the water as it stops in Gosport on route to its future home off the coast of Guernsey.