Hampshire & Isle of Wight

'Positive' talks to save last cross-Channel hovercraft

SRN4 hovercraft
Image caption The Hoverspeed vessels carried passengers between Dover and France for 30 years

"Positive" talks have been held about saving one of two remaining cross-Channel hovercraft under threat of being scrapped, a museum has said.

The Hovercraft Museum is in talks with the government's Homes and Community Agency (HCA), which owns the Princess Margaret and Princess Anne.

Both vessels stand alongside the museum in Lee-on-the-Solent on land earmarked by the HCA for redevelopment.

The HCA confirmed talks about the Princess Anne were "progressing well".

A petition to save the craft has so far gained about 20,000 signatures.

Writing on the museum's Facebook page, trustee Ben Avery said: "It is positive but we are by no means out of the woods yet... Remember, nothing is certain until we have something in writing that enables us to sign on the dotted line."

The SRN4 craft sit alongside the Hovercraft Museum on the former Daedalus Royal Naval Air Station site, now owned by the HCA, where they have been since being decommissioned in 2000.

They have never been owned by the museum.

'National heritage'

The HCA took possession of the craft from their previous owner and had planned to scrap them before selling the land for homes.

The museum's trustees said they had "reluctantly accepted" the Princess Margaret would be scrapped.

An HCA spokeswoman said the department's aim was to regenerate the area but took its "responsibility to national heritage seriously".

The cross-Channel hovercraft service from Dover to Calais closed in 2000.

The two 250-tonne vessels could carry 400 passengers and 55 cars.

They were built on the Isle of Wight by the British Hovercraft Corporation in the 1970s and operated from Dover and Pegwell Bay in Kent.

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