Hampshire & Isle of Wight

New Cowes 'floating bridge' ferry enters service

new chain ferry Image copyright Allan Marsh
Image caption The ferry office said the new vessel could carry 20 cars

A new chain ferry is to enter service, saving drivers a 10-mile road diversion after its predecessor was retired in January.

Isle of Wight Council removed the old "Floating Bridge" after 40 years of crossings between Cowes and East Cowes.

The new ferry is two months overdue after engineers waited for tides low enough to complete a slipway.

The ferry office said 20 cars would fit on the new vessel, compared with about 15 on the old ferry.

Image copyright Andrew Cooke
Image caption The old chain ferry was taken out of service on 2 January

Welsh boat building firm Mainstay Marine built the new ferry, which has an expected lifespan of 40 years.

The council said the vessel and slipway work would cost £4.6m, including a margin for contingencies.

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

The first crossing is due to take place at 14:00 BST on Saturday.

The authority had invited the public to suggest names for the ferry, but later postponed a decision "until after the general election".

Suggestions made so far include "Floaty McFloatface", and "Blyskawica" - the name of a Polish destroyer which defended Cowes during World War Two.

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