Floating bridges


This is the retired Cowes chain ferry taking a break in Gosport (Pompey’s Spinnaker Tower behind it). This is just a few metres from the site from where a steam-powered floating bridge clanked across the Harbour to Old Portsmouth from 1840 through to 1959. A vital memory of the incredible noise it made exists on vinyl – The Sounds of Bygone Transport, Argo TR 139. “An asthmatic whistle is first heard, followed by the sound of the auxiliary engine as a background to an interview with the engineer. The telegraph bell gives the order to start and the noise in the engine room becomes deafening as the chains pass over the driving wheels. At either side of the vessel the chains enter and leave the hull between rollers just above water level. Returning to the engine room as the bridge approaches Gosport the telegraph is heard to say ‘Slow’ and finally ‘Stop’.” The bridge recorded in 1951 was called Alexandra which had entered service in 1882.


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