Hovercraft Propeller and Pylon, Dover Harbour Hoverport, Kent, England, UK

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Duke of Kent opened Western Docks Hoverport in 1981 after merger of Seaspeed and Hoverlloyd to form Hoverspeed. SR.N4 propellor and pylon located on the concrete apron adjacent to Prince of Wales Pier were installed in 1999. The Princess Anne made last cross-channel flight on Sunday, October 1, 2000; ACV fleet replaced by Seacat catamarans until 2005. Port of Dover English Channel Ferries. Transport History, Tourism, and Travel.

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Comments (2)

John Latter on March 29, 2013

Except for End Notes that describe features in the background landscape, the following caption is identical to that given for the "full frontal" close-up at:

A Lone Propeller, Last Symbol of the Hovercraft, Dover Harbour, United Kingdom

The propeller has a diameter of 21 feet. The blades are individually numbered clockwise starting from number one at top-right. Presumably this is done to ensure the balance of the engine to the blades is maintained throughtout the unit's service history.

The lettering on blade one reads: "DO NOT SLING HERE; BA 108; 100A107980A; NO 1". This is repeated on blades two and three (except "NO 1" becomes "NO 2" and then "NO 3", of course).

The writing on blade four at top-left is the same except it overlays and obscures part of an earlier stamp. Additional information that can be easily read from the first stamp states, "SERIAL-NO BA 128; **07979A; HSAR10109; SD941".

The "hovercraft memorial" propeller (sometimes propellor) is visible as a light-coloured object to the left of the darker building in the centre of the Hoverport apron in:

Panorama of Balmoral Cruise Ship and Admiralty Pier, Dover Harbour

Amongst other photos, the apron (but not the propeller and pylon) are also shown in:

Sunrise over the English Channel and Dover Harbour


MS Crystal Symphony Cruise Ship at Sunrise, Dover Harbour

And the concrete apron at the water's edge in:

MTS Xplorer Gemini Fastcat Catamaran, Western Docks, Dover Harbour


Hoverspeed, formed in 1981 by the merger of Seaspeed and Hoverlloyd, was a ferry company that operated on the English Channel from 1981 until 2005.

The last owners were Sea Containers Ltd; the company ran a small fleet of two high-speed SeaCat Catamaran ferries in its final year.

Hoverspeed is notable for its part in developing the hovercraft, and ran six SR.N4 Mountbatten class hovercraft and one SEDAM N500 Naviplane. Hoverspeed last operated hovercraft on its Dover to Calais service. They were withdrawn on 1 October 2000 and replaced by Seacat catamarans.


Bow of HSC Seacat France High Speed Catamaran, Prince of Wales Pier, Dover Harbour


HSC Seacat France High Speed Catamaran, Prince of Wales Pier, Dover Harbour

Hoverspeed's primary service had been established by British Railways owned Seaspeed in 1968 with the car carrying SRN 4 Hovercraft The Princess Anne and The Princess Margaret. Seaspeed were not the first hovercraft service between Dover and Calais, Townsend Car Ferries had operated a passenger only SRN 6 in 1966 from the Eastern Docks. Hoverlloyd also ran hovercraft services in 1966 to Calais but from Ramsgate.


A hovercraft, also known as an air-cushion vehicle or ACV, is a craft capable of travelling over land, water, mud or ice and other surfaces both at speed and when stationary. Hovercraft are hybrid vessels operated by a pilot as an aircraft rather than a captain as a marine vessel.

They operate by creating a cushion of high-pressure air between the hull of the vessel and the surface below. Typically this cushion is contained within a flexible "skirt". They typically hover at heights between 200 mm (7.9 in) and 600 mm (24 in) above any surface and operate above 20 knots (23 mph) and can clear gradients up to 20 degrees.[citation needed]

The first practical design for hovercraft derived from a Sir Christopher Cockerell's British invention in the 1950s to 1960s. They are now used throughout the world as specialised transports in disaster relief, coastguard, military and survey applications as well as for sport or passenger service. Very large versions have been used to transport hundreds of people and vehicles across the English Channel whilst others have military applications used to transport tanks, soldiers and large equipment in hostile environments and terrain.

End Notes

1 Shakespeare Cliff

The headland jutting into both the sky and the English Channel is Shakespeare Cliff, part of the White Cliffs of Dover and so named because of its association with William Shakespeare's tragedy, King Lear. See:

King Lear and Shakespeare Cliff, White Cliffs of Dover, Kent, United Kingdom


Victorian Colour Photo of Shakespeare Cliff, Dover, United Kingdom

A more familiar view of the iconic cliffs:

Panorama of the White Cliffs of Dover in Sunlight and Shadow, England


Victorian Colour Photo of the White Cliffs of Dover, United Kingdom

2 Channel House

The white "layer cake" building on the lower slopes of the Western Heights visible between the lower pair of propellers contains the offices of P&O Ferries whose ships operate from the ferry terminal in the Eastern Docks:

Night Panorama of the Ferry Terminal and Eastern Docks of Dover Harbour

3 Dover Marina

A short distance behind the wall to the right of the propellers is the Tidal Harbour and then the grey roof of Dover Lifeboat Station on Crosswall Quay. Beyond it are the masts of boats and yachts moored in the non-tidal Granville Dock:

The Clock Tower and Granville Dock under Snow, Dover Marina

See all Ferry and Port of Dover photos.

Sources: Wikipedia

John Latter / Jorolat

Dover Blog: The Psychology of a Small Town

This is the Images of Dover website: click on any red or blue "John Latter" link to access the Entry Page.

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on March 29, 2013
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: Canon EOS 600D
    • Taken on 2013/03/27 08:27:53
    • Exposure: 0.005s (1/200)
    • Focal Length: 23.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/9.000
    • ISO Speed: ISO100
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash