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Unlike most other hovercraft operators, Hovertravel was not a subsidiary of a bigger company but was a company created by local people 14th June 1965.
Hovertravel started their cross Solent services, Ryde to Southsea and Ryde to Stokes Bay (near Gosport) in July 1965 using SR-N6 craft. Although in the first year the service operated year round, in 1966 they ceased at the end of the summer to resume the following April.
right is a SR-N6 craft at the Ryde terminal.
See other SR-N6 pictures
The Ryde to Stokes Bay service closed in 1968 while the Ryde to Southsea service continues today (2004) using AP1-88 craft.
Two SR-N6 craft were operated by Hoverwork at Expo 67 across the St Lawrence River, Canada - over 110,000 passengers were carried - one pilot was Capt Barry Goldsmith of Binstead. Following Expo 67, one craft was chartered by the Canadian Federal Department of Transport for trials at Fort Churchill, Manitoba over snow, ice and tundra at temperatures down to 40 degrees below freezing (pilot in charge was Capt. A. Smith of Ventnor).
On October 8th 1968 Hovertravel carried their one millionth passenger.
In 1969, Red Funnel used a HM-2 Hovercraft hired from Hovertravel on their Cowes/Southampton.
1969 also saw Hoverwork use two SR-N6 craft to carryout seismographic survey.
4th March 1972 saw Hovertravel SR-N6 012 overturn off of the Southsea terminal with a loss of 5 lives.
May 1st 1976 saw the Seaspeed Cowes to Southampton route transferred to the new ownership of Solent Seaspeed - a joint Hovertravel and BHC company.
The AP1-88 hovercraft, which entered service in July 1983, was the result of a joint Hovertravel/BHC/NRDC contract in 1981, designed by BHC, the aluminium hull was produced by Fairey Allday at their Gosport boat yard and was fitted out at Hoverwork's St Helens Duver works.
See other AP1-88 pictures.
The early years of the twenty-first century saw Hoverwork design a replacement for the AP1-88 on the cross Solent route - known as the BHT130. The 'Solent Express', (the first of these 70 tonne, 130 seater craft) was constructed at the St Helens Duver works in 2005/2007, began trials in March 2007 and entered cross-Solent service on 14th June 2007, 40 years to the day after the launch of the SR-N1 at Saunders Roe Cowes. - see more BHT130 pictures.
In July 2007, the 'Solent Express' was charter to Stagecoach for a two weeks trial on a new passenger service between Kickcaldy
and Portobello across the Firth of Forth in Scotland - for more details see 'BHT130 in Scotland'.
In 2008, the Bland Group increased its shareholding in Hovertravel from 25% to 99.92%, and also purchased Griffon Hovercraft Ltd, a hovercraft manufacturer based in Southampton.
Hovertravel's 'sister company', Hoverwork, had been involved with pilot and servicing training as well as hovercraft charter work for many years and a number of modified hovercraft had been produced by their staff to meet specific requirements. In March 2009, Hoverwork and Griffon were merged to create Griffon Hoverwork Ltd, a world leading hovercraft producer with over 40 years of experience in the design, development, manufacture and operation of hovercraft.