Today (1st October 2018) marks 18 years since the last flight of the Dover to Calais Hovercraft, operated by Hoverspeed. Hoverspeed, formed in 1981 by the merger of Seaspeed and Hoverlloyd, was a ferry company that operated on the English Channel shipping passengers and their vehicles between the UK and Europe. Most well known in Dover for their use of the Hovercrafts, The Princess Anne and The Princess Margaret, and later Seacats – Hoverspeed specialised in moving passenger traffic very quickly between ports. 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 Hoverspeed last operated hovercraft on its Dover to Calais service and they were withdrawn on 1st October 2000 and replaced by Seacat catamarans built by Incat. Sadly, after years of losses due to strong competition and the Channel Tunnel link, Hoverspeed announced that they would cease operations on the Dover–Calais route, ending over 40 years of service. The last ferry run was on 7 November 2005.
Without Hoverspeed flying across the channel, Dover’s seafront is missing the strong smell of parafin and noise of the jet engines which once filled the area.