Hoverspeed was a company that offered channel crossings for more than 40 years. Beginning with the famous Princess Margaret Hovercraft and later developing their fleet of catamarans, Hoverspeed’s final crossing took place in November 2005.
Increases in fuel prices and competition from the Channel Tunnel eventually led to the difficult decision to close the company. However, Hoverspeed is still considered somewhat of a pioneer in the UK ferry industry.
North Sea Ferries was a company that operated between 1965 and 1996 before it later merged into P&O Operations. It operated routes from Hull to Rotterdam and Zeebrugge.
The establishment of North Sea Ferries in 1965 is still considered as nothing short of a revolution, as it paved the way for the popular ferry routes from the UK to Europe as well as making ferries much more passenger friendly, rather than just geared towards vehicles and cargo.
The P&O Stena Line was the result of a merger between P&O European Ferries and Stena Line. It was a joint venture between the companies that looked to add more ferries to a number of routes including Newhaven to Dieppe, Dover to Calais and also from Newhaven.
The companies created a variety of multi-purpose vessels, freight ferries and fastcraft to suit the preferences and demand of the time. The merger finished after P&O bought the shares of Stena Line in 2002.
SeaCat was the marketing name used by Sea Containers (SeaCo) who operated 74/81m catamarans between 1992 - 2004. Originally based in Stranraer, the company later moved to Belfast. The ‘Cat’ part of the name refers to the company’s use of Catamaran Ferries.
The ferries operated between Stranraer, Belfast and Troon and enjoyed a successful 11 year period or so. They then faced stiff competition from P&O Irish Sea which led to a switch to exclusively seasonal service in 2003 before eventually closing in 2005.
Sealink was a UK ferry company that operated a number of European routes including to France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Isle of Man, Isle of Wight and The Channel Islands. It operated from 1970 - 1984 before it was sold to Sea Containers which kept the Sealink name.
It had a long history of changing ownership as well as changing functions; from being exclusively an extension of the UK rail system to being heavily reliant on passenger and freight vehicle traffic for its income and popularity.
The Sealink name disappeared in 1996 when the UK services were rebranded to ‘Stena Line’ and the French-ran services rebranded to ‘SeaFrance’.
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