The current Cowes Floating Bridge – also known as the chain ferry – has completed its last journey across the River Medina after more than 40 years in service.
During the early hours of this morning (Tuesday) the chain-driven vessel completed its last round trip from Cowes to East Cowes and back again, coming in to dock for the final time at 00:36.
A small crowd gathered for the historic moment and to say goodbye to the longest-serving ferry on the route, ‘No 5’. During its life the floating bridge has operated 18 hours a day, 365 days a year and in recent years it has transported approximately 1.5 million pedestrians and 400,000 vehicles per annum.
The last vehicle to roll off the deck of ‘No 5’ – the fifth ferry owned by the Isle of Wight Council and the eight overall – was a Hampshire Constabulary Police van crewed by 2 officers. 3 foot passengers and a number of photographers also travelled on the last crossing.
A brand new £3.5million floating bridge is due to enter service at the end of March, with a passenger-only launch operating across the Medina in the meantime. A number of enhancements are to be made to the slipway over the next 3 months.
In the coming days or weeks the Cowes Floating Bridge will be moved to a mooring down the River Medina whilst a buyer is found.