Former Gosport Ferry arrives on the Thames

Rob Powell Passenger Vessels 8 Comments

A FERRY which operated from Portsmouth to Gosport for fifty years has arrived on the Thames after being acquired by a new owner.

The Portsmouth Queen left Portsmouth Harbour for the final time on February 29th and arrived on the Thames the following day.

The vessel, which will be known as the London Queen, initially moored at the Gravesend old town pier pontoon before moving to a boat yard yesterday.

Coincidentally, the Gravesend-Tilbury ferry Duchess M which operates from the pontoon is also an old Portsmouth-Gosport ferry, built as Vesta in the 1950s.

The Gosport Ferry operator sold the vessel, sister to the Gosport Queen, after investing in a new ferry called Harbour Spirit which entered service last year.

Photos of Portsmouth Queen at Gravesend





Buy a copy of a photo from this post as a digital file or print

Comments 8

  1. She is such a lovely ferry, I have a kinship for her as I grew up with her, my grandfather was on the Gosport ferry ‘Ferry Queen’, she operated as a standby ferry for the company when ‘Portsmouth Queen’ arrived with ‘Gosport Queen’ in 1966. The ‘Ferry Queen’ was one the last of the older traditional ferries, she was sold in 1974. You couldn’t tell ‘Portsmouth Queen’ from ‘Gosport Queen’ in the early days, but in the 1980’s ‘Portsmouth Queen’ needed ballast tanks on her Stern, that improved her propulsion performance. I was asked to comment about her being sold I said in the interview ” I was sad to hear ‘Portsmouth Queen’ had been sold, Gosport and it’s harbour won’t ever be the the same without her, she sailed out of the harbour, with no fuss, no cermony as if on one of her ‘runs’ she did that stretched her legs, I have a great kinship for her, as I grew up with her, London are lucky to have her, she is and always will be a beautiful ferry”.

    1. I was interested to read your comments – and those of John Wright. I’m the publisher of a forthcoming book about memories of Gosport Ferry and would love to include some anecdotes and memories from both of you. Time, however, is of the essence, so if you would like to take part, you can email us: but we’d need to receive something by the end of July. Sorry for the short notice, but many thanks!

  2. She was such a lovely vessel and good sea boat
    As I work on her for 29 years as a deckhand upto a captain and then a night watchman plus refitting her each year
    This vessel will go on for years to come and I wish her luck
    I am glad she made it to 50years with the gosport ferry co

  3. I agree with everything John says about ‘Portsmouth Queen’, i was the Gosport ferry company’s greatest anorack!, some people are train spotters, some love old buses, with me it was Gosport Ferries! Grandad was Captain of the old coal burners, along with Captains such as Bill Bailey and Alfie Newman, so Gosport ferries run through my veins! Like John i loved ‘Portsmouth Queen’, and there was not much i didn’t know about her and her sister, (this included small differences like the position of the radio aerials fitted to the mast a few years after ‘the Queens’ had been first built), ‘ Gosport Queens’ aerial was fitted to her mast top just a few inches lower than on ‘Portsmouth Queen’, but i spotted the difference! ‘Portsmouth Queen’ is in great shape for 50 years old, There is a very old song called ‘They don’t make ’em like that anymore’, very apt to ‘Portsmouth Queen’. Have a photo of her when she was first built, (she is passing M.V. ‘Brading’ tied up on the off the harbour station mooring barge). John was a great Captain, well liked and respected and i am glad John and i will remember her and have so many happy memories of her.

  4. ‘Portsmouth Queen’, now ‘London Queen’ was moored in the Standard Creek on buoys, ready to move to nearby docks, but she is alongside a dock now, having her radar, mast, forward funnel removed and she is being repainted White, she is also having her bridge centralised, all to become the ‘MV London Queen’. Let’s wish her owners and ‘London Queen’ well. The owners write to me, keep me up to date, haven’t met them, but seem lovely people. I only wish them much love with the lovely old girl.

  5. I have spent my life in and around portsmouth harbour and I am sad to see that one queen has now gone and another is heading away from Portsmouth soon. Both the Gosport & Portsmouth Queens should have stayed in the harbour as pleasure cruisers. The Portsmouth Queen is having her funnel removed and her con tower moved to central part of this ferry to make way for more passengers.

    She will no longer be the ferry we all knew and loved (Sacrilege) she should have remained as is!!

    Please don’t let this happen to the Gosport Queen.

    1. I spent my life on ‘Portsmouth and Gosport Queen’ and ‘The Enterprise’. Crews said I knew more about the three ferries than they did! A huge fan of the Gosport fleet, use to be 6 ferries when I first became interested in them, ‘Gosport and Portsmouth Queen’, ‘Solent Enterprise’ and the 3 smaller older diesels ‘Vita’, ‘Vesta’ and ‘Ferry Queen’ (built of the same design as the coal burners, but a smaller funnel and a mast). One often forgotten Gosport Ferry is the ‘Southsea Queen’, she replaced the ‘Vita’ etc in 1974, but was only a Gosport Ferry from 74-78, she went on to be a Hythe ferry ‘Hythe Hotspur’, but is now a cruise ferry called ‘Cruiser’. I remember the first alterations to ‘the Queens’ was a safety rail added to the port bow, for the slippers mate to stand to throw the rope on, also added were chains on the embark-disembarkation gates with a wheel that tightened the chains, thus preventing unauthorized people opening the gates, better (and more) rubber fenders were added to their hulls, until then the ‘Queens’ were designed with fenders that hung over the side. In the early 1970s radio telephone aerials were added to the very top of the masts, (albeit at very slightly different heights) on each ‘Queen’. Also ‘Way on>’ ‘Way off<' , 'Mind your Step', 'Passengers not allowed on the bridge' etc etc notices appeared. The biggest change came in the early 80's when 'Portsmouth Queen' was the first to have two oblong tanks added to her aft deck on the open stern, these were ballast tanks, which improved her prop. performance, giving her prop. a much deeper thrust! I have very happy memories of these dear boats, and with 'Gosport Queen' now gone, it truly is the end of an era and the end of their long reign as Gosport ferries. Between them, as I'm sure you know they fitted up an astonishing 101 years, ('Gosport Queen' having made it as a Gosport Ferry into her fifty first year!). I remember when the 'Enterprise' went from 'Gay' to 'Solent', as I was only very young, the reason never meant much to me, but I remember her red band that was painted round her entire upper structure was repainted dark green and veteran skipper Alfie Newman who had a great sense of humour said "she will now look like a Provincial bus!". To understand that joke, local Gosport buses were run by a company called Provincial and the fleet was dark green! The first new modern Gosport Ferry is the 'Spirit of Gosport', her twin was going to be 'Spirit of Portsmouth', but the order was cancelled so 'Spirit of Portsmouth' remained an unpainted and with no windows or fittings remained a shell for 12 years, she has now been fitted out and painted white and red, with a raised bridge, extended bow, she is a medical Ferry. Set to run in S.America, she has been renamed 'Forth Hope'. As I'm sure you know a 'Spirit of Portsmouth' was built, but in a different shipyard, she is also a up to date version of the 'Enterprise', with a bar, deck shelter and galley added. Shields Ferry Company in Newcastle loved the design of the 'Spirit' class that they had their new Ferry built in the same design, (albeit with a few variations, changes etc), she is white and blue and is named 'Spirit of the Tyne'. Finally back to the 'Queens', when 'Gosport Queen' sailed out of Portsmouth Harbour, she left behind her a trail of memories.

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