The Spirit of Portsmouth at Gosport
|Route||Gosport to Portsmouth|
|Operator||Gosport Ferry Ltd|
The Gosport Ferry is a ferry service operating between Gosport and Portsmouth in Hampshire, southern England. It is currently operated by Gosport Ferry Ltd, a subsidiary of the Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company Ltd, itself a wholly owned subsidiary of FIH group plc.
The company that currently operates the Gosport ferry was created in 1883 as the Port of Portsmouth Steam Launch & Towing Company, making it one of the longest serving ferry services in the UK. In 1963, it took over the Gosport & Portsea Watermen's Steam Launch Company, founded in 1875 by the Watermen, who had operated ferries on the route for centuries. These Watermen had enjoyed protected rights between 1603 and 1840, limiting operation of ferries on the route to Gosport residents.
Upon the takeover in 1963, the company changed its name to the Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company (plc since 2001). In addition to Gosport Ferries Ltd and other related interests, PHFC also owns Clarence Marine Engineering Ltd, which provides maintenance services for the ferries as well as general marine engineering services. Gosport Ferries Ltd was incorporated in 1988, registered company 2254382; Clarence Marine Engineering was incorporated in 1987, registered company 2139067. Both are non-trading companies whose registered office is located in South Street, Gosport, head offices for the Gosport Ferry Ltd plc, registered company 18751.
In 2004, Falkand Islands Holdings completed a hostile takeover with a value of £7.5 million. The takeover was met with controversy as it was believed that a single shareholder would cut investment and raise fares. On 10 December the Falkland Island Company released a statement announcing it had over 51% of the total shares and setting out the terms for the purchase of the rest. In 2016, Falkland Islands Holdings changed its name to FIH group.
For most of the day, a single boat provides a departure every 15 minutes in both directions. At peak times, two boats are used to provide a 7.5 minute interval service.
Monday - Friday
|Ferry name||Built||Entered service||Information||Image|
|Spirit of Gosport||2001||2001||Spirit of Gosport was built in 2001 and is the oldest ship in the fleet. It is painted in standard Gosport Ferry livery and has a single enclosed deck and an open upper deck. During its first few months in service it ran alongside the two Queens due to teething problems.|
|Spirit of Portsmouth||2005||2005||Spirit of Portsmouth is the second newest vessel of the fleet. It is to a similar design to that of Spirit of Gosport, but has a covered top deck and a bar, so it is normally used on cruise services. The vessel does, however, operate on the ferry service when either of the other vessels are unavailable. Spirit of Portsmouth is painted in standard Gosport Ferry livery.|
|Harbour Spirit||2014||2015||Harbour Spirit is the newest member of the fleet and went into operation in May 2015. It is similar in size to the Spirit of Gosport, carrying up to 300 passengers, and includes more modern facilities, better cycle storage, and more sheltered seating.|
The Gosport Ferry also operates cruises around the Solent. In the early 70s cruises were operated by Solent Enterprise (then Gay Enterprise), Vita, Vesta and Ferry Queen (three of the smaller original diesel ferries). The three were sold, (with the arrival of Southsea Queen in 1974), however in 1978 Southsea Queen was sold. The cruises after that continued to be operated by just the company's cruise ferry Solent Enterprise, however it has been known on the odd occasions, (in the late 80s and early 90s) for one of the Queens to operate on a Harbour or Solent cruise, (when either Portsmouth Queen or Gosport Queen were not operating on their usual work horse ferry duties). In the height of the summer, it was not unusual to see Solent Enterprise (on a day trip to Cowes, Isle of Wight) and Portsmouth Queen (on a cruise around the Solent and Harbour) both passing Clarence Pier, off Southsea. Two days of special evening cruises occurred during The Festival of the Sea, when the Solent Enterprise and Gosport Queen did a special harbour cruise to view the tall ships and fireworks by night. Now cruises are generally operated by the Spirit of Portsmouth, which has moquette seating upstairs (also with seating with tables in the centre section) as well as a bar.
When there are no more cruises for a year, the Spirit of Portsmouth operates on the ferry service alongside the Spirit of Gosport. The latter vessel replaces the former when the former is out of service. Cruises were once the duty of the withdrawn vessels, the Southsea Queen and the Solent Enterprise.