Red Funnel Flip (3)

Go full astern..

Having been taken across the Medina by Jenny boat I was once again back on East Cowes and en route to Kingston Cemetery. East Cowes has a very different feel to West Cowes and it may be one of those affluent vs middle class things. Although given how little I saw on this visit I may be totally wrong.  The one problem I did encounter was large trucks that were coming and going to the ferry. It was somewhat dangerous for a foot passenger such as myself. It was also not good for photography. 

Once clear of the terminal and having found my bearings I was ready to head off to the cemetery.

I love the houses in these towns, they are much more attractive than the faux “Tuscan Villas” so beloved of yuppies and architects back in South Africa. These old row houses have character!  Eventually I reached Kingston Cemetery, and it had a very different feel to its neighbour over the river. It was consecrated in 1876 on land given to the people of Cowes by Queen Victoria. 

The Exif data on these images gives the time as being around 13H00, look how the weather has changed.  And, like Northwood, it too has a mass grave and Civilian Dead Memorial.

It was time to go, I was also feeling peckish so needed to find food or snacks, I had spotted a likely place while I was in town so would pause there and kill some time replenishing my energy levels. I was also hoping to get to see some water up close and personal, and was able to achieve that once I was finished lunch. 

To be honest I was at a loss as to what to do to kill time, the museum was closed much to my dismay, and frankly I could have spent much more time at the cemetery. I was tempted to grab the next ferry and head back to Southampton, but I really wanted to experience seeing Azura coming out down Southampton Water. Problem number two was that because one ferry was out of commission the sailing times were slightly out of kilter. 

There was one mystery that I wanted to solve but unfortunately I did not get proper pics of it at the time because I was hoping to get better ones when I was on the ground. On East Cowes, just as you enter the Medina, there is a large hangerlike structure with a Union Jack painted on it, and I really wanted to know what the significance of it was because Cowes was also a a place where they built flying boats and hovercraft many many years ago.

Rummaging through my images I found an information board that gives some background to this place and the industry that was once a leader in its field. The structure, built by the firm of Sauders-Roe Ltd is known as the “Columbine Shed” and it was built in 1935 along with its attendant slipway. During the war years many seaplanes were built here, and it was also here where the SR.A1 Jet propelled seaplane (to be seen at Solent Sky Museum in Southampton)  first took flight. it was also at this spot where the 3 Princess Flying Boats came into being, only one of which flew. Hovercraft were built here too including the SR.N1, the world’s first hovercraft and the very successful SR.N4 Mountbatten Class of cross channel hovercraft of which 6 were built,  as well as the smaller  SR.N6 (Winchseter Class) hovercraft, one of which was used to carry passengers between Cowes and Southampton.  

Princess Flying Boat model at Solent Sky Museum in Southampton

Sadly though, there was nothing to see at the site, except for the hull of a yacht inside a frame, and I could not even get close to that. 

Where did all of this industry go to? the flying boat became irrelevant and the hovercraft has been phased out by more efficient means of transport, although there is a hovercraft service between Portsmouth and Ryde.  It was time to make tracks, I was tired, having been on the go since early in the morning, I really just needed to find my way back to the terminal and catch the ferry back to Southampton. 

By the time I arrived at the terminal at 4pm. I was bushed and couldn’t wait to be on my way home again. The weather had turned gray and moody and it did not bode well for photography. We sailed at roughly 4.30, about the same time as Azura would be upping her lines back in Southampton (assuming she did that on time). 


It would be nice to say “we then turned our bows towards Southampton” when the reality is that the ferry is double ended, and the only difference is which side her funnel will be on when she is at sea. Her Voith propulsion make her very maneuverable, and that is needed when coming “bow” onto the loading ramp. 

And because the ferry is double ended you could read this blog from here back to the top of the page because it was almost a reverse of our trip from Southampton, but in gray weather. It’s true we did get to see Azura close up, but the weather didn’t make for great pictures.  

We also met up with one of the many car carriers that visit Southampton on a regular basis. 

And then we were in the harbour, although it was almost empty. This is Shieldhall snoozing at her berth. Unfortunately she no longer occupies this space and can be found very close to the former drydock just past Mayflower Terminal in the Western Docks

The ramps were waiting, as were the vehicles and passengers who were heading the other way. I was almost glad to be home, although I would not have minded going backwards and forwards again.

I was home just after 5.30 and it had been a great trip, and I really wanted to do it, but never did. I would also have loved to try the hovercraft between Ryde and Southsea too. Ferries like the Red Funnel vessels are non-existent back home, so seeing and traveling on her was a lot of fun. Sadly though, even these vessels may one day become extinct, especially if you consider the reduced ferry services that run today. But, as long as there are goods that need moving a vehicle ferry like this has a reason to be. 

And, having traveled on one I now have a better understanding of the service that they deliver to the Isle of Wight as well as a feeling for the route that so many passenger liners in the past had sailed to access the ocean. I just hope it continues that way long into the future. As for the Red Jets? I am not too keen on low flying at sea, but then if the weather was rough it may be fun, but there is no open deck to stand on, just seats, like on a bus.

DRW © 2013-2022. Images recreated 02/04/2016, blog post expanded 13/12/2017

This entry was posted in Hampshire, Personal, Photowalks, Retrospective, Ships, Southampton, Transportation, United Kingdom, War Memorial and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.