Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Cross-Channel hovercraft Princess Anne 'to open to public'

The Princess Anne Image copyright Hovercraft Museum
Image caption The Princess Anne which operated from Dover and Pegwell Bay in Kent could carry 400 passengers and 55 cars

A disused cross-Channel hovercraft is to partially open to the public following an eight-month campaign to save it from being scrapped.

The Princess Anne had been under threat after its site owners, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), announced plans to develop the land.

The vessel is stored at the Hovercraft Museum in Lee-on-the-Solent.

It will be partially opened during the museum's annual Hovershow on Saturday and Sunday.

An online crowdfunding page has also been set up in a bid to raise £20,000 towards the restoration of the 250-tonne vessel on the former HMS Daedalus naval base site.

Image caption Plans for the second Hoverspeed vessel, the Princess Margaret, are due to be considered

Museum trustee Ben Avery said it had been given a three-year lease of the vessel "with the intention of the HCA to hand the craft over completely to the trust at the end of the three years".

"This time period allows us to fulfil obligations in making the craft safe and of smart appearance," he added.

The museum said the cash raised via the crowdfunding appeal would initially be used to repaint the former Hoverspeed craft, make its roof watertight and for "sprucing up her interior".

An HCA spokesman said: "We are committed to regenerating this area to create new homes and jobs, and we also take our responsibility to national heritage seriously.

"This solution will protect the Princess Anne, whilst also ensuring that the rest of the site can be developed to provide much needed jobs and houses."

It had previously said it would consider options for a second hovercraft at the site - the Princess Margaret - once the lease for the Princess Anne was complete.

More than 21,000 people signed a petition to save the hovercraft which was set up by museum volunteers in January, after HCA announced it wanted to develop the land for homes.

The Princess Margaret and Princess Anne Hoverspeed vessels carried up to 400 passengers and 55 cars between Dover and France for 30 years.

They were taken out of service in 2000 and have since been stored at Lee-on-Solent.

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