Tag Archives: Hovercraft

Trains and Boats and Flights! A Day to Remember

We often spent a week in the summer holidays with out grandma in Woolston and I must have been about eight years old when she took my sister and I on a little adventure. We waited excitedly for the bus at the end of Newtown Road, Woolston and climbed to the top deck for the first leg of our journey to the Floating Bridge, which then took us over the River Itchen next to where the Hoverport was situated, just opposite the site of the Supermarine Works. (long gone by that time) 

It was our first ride on a hovercraft and I remember the noise and anticipation as the craft lifted up on its skirts and glided down the slipway and on to the river. It was quite a different feeling many years later on a cross channel ‘flight’ when I likened the experience more to going up and down in a lift as we traversed the waves in the Channel from Ramsgate. This time though, as we sped along Southampton Water, we watched the familiar sights of Weston Shore and Calshot Spit pass us by and soon The Isle of Wight was in front of us, filling our horizon.

At Cowes we walked a while to find a quieter spot to have a picnic before making our way to catch a bus to Ryde where, never being people to shirk exercise, we walked alongside the train to the end of Ryde Pier where we caught the ferry, this time back to Portsmouth. Although it was nothing like the speed of the catamarans today, we were soon on the mainland once more and heading for the railway station. The ride back to Woolston took us behind Newtown Road and I can only just remember sitting with my Grandad on a style to watch the steam trains go by maybe four years earlier before he popped into the The Gardeners Arms where he played dominoes each day with his friends.

Happy memories eh? It was lovely that my last post stirred several memories for readers too. It would be lovely to hear from you if you have other stories to tell; either post a comment here, send me a tweet, say hello on Facebook or send me an email


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Filed under Family History, Southampton, Supermarine, Woolston

When was the last flight from the River Itchen, Woolston, Southampton?

As Woolston is regenerated from a forgotten backwater, passed without a second thought by drivers taking the Itchen Bridge which was opened back in 1977, I hope it will remember its fascinating history. As I research Woolston, this little suburb of Southampton, the more fascinating the history becomes in my mind.

I’m not old enough to remember the first flight of the Spitfire, like my father, or the famous Schneider Trophy winners taking off from Woolston and practicing off Calshot along Southampton Water watched by my grandfather and great grandmother, but I do remember the hovercraft. In fact the last flight out of Woolston, from the River Itchen was neither a flying boat nor a sea plane, but a hovercraft. 

There was a regular hovercraft service from Woolston to Cowes in the Isle of Wight which began in 1962, with its terminal just over the Floating Bridge linking Portsmouth Road Woolston with Southampton before the Itchen Bridge was built, but there is still a hovercraft service from Southsea, Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight today.

 The fact which most excited me recently was finding out that there is a company who works in the development of hovercrafts still thriving in Woolston called Griffon Hoverwork Ltd, based at Hazel Road close to the site of the original Supermarine Works. 

If you would like to know more about this strange mode of transport with a skirt where you fly on water, it’s worth visiting the only Hovercraft Museum in the world only along the coast towards Portsmouth at Lee on Solent. Amongst more serious craft you will see the hovercrafts used by James Bond in ‘Die another Day’ in 2002.



Filed under Early Flight, Southampton, Supermarine, Woolston