Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Cowes Floating Bridge makes its final journey

Cowes floating bridge Image copyright David Dixon
Image caption A "floating bridge" has been in operation in Cowes since 1859

A chain ferry has made its final journey after operating for 40 years on the Isle of Wight.

A replacement for the Cowes Floating Bridge is due to enter service in late March.

Until then, drivers travelling between West and East Cowes face a 10-mile diversion via Newport, although a replacement launch will operate for foot passengers.

The old bridge will be moored in the River Medina ready for sale.

Image copyright Isle of Wight Council
Image caption The old floating bridge made its final journey shortly after midnight on Tuesday

The Isle of Wight Council said the new ferry, being built in Wales by Mainstay Marine, would carry more vehicles than its predecessor and would make "faster, more regular" crossings.

The ferry office said it hoped that 20 vehicles would fit on the new vessel, compared with 10 or 11 on the old ferry.

Mainstay Marine said the vessel would be capable of reaching speeds of up to 5 knots and would carry a total deadweight of "no less than 52.65 tonnes".

'Bad planning'

The council said the cost of the entire project, including the new ferry, slipway work and a margin for contingencies, was estimated to be £4.6m.

It said £3.8m of funding would come from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, with any remaining balance paid by the council.

West Cowes restaurant manager Lydia Lee said the three-month gap without a vehicle ferry would "have an impact" on trade, while takeaway owner Richard Quigley said it "smacks of bad planning".

The council said the gap would allow "substantial reconstruction work" to be carried out on both slipways.

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