Hull’s futuristic hovercraft that carried passengers over the Humber in the 1960s

A futuristic way to travel between Hull and Grimsby existed long before the Humber Bridge was built. In the 1960s, there were hovercraft that crossed water carrying not only people, but also goods.

Towards the end of the decade, the service called Hoverlink was set up between two ports where passengers boarded. The short distance between Grimsby’s Royal Dock and Wharf of the Corporation in Hull was made even faster by this method of moving at high speed.

The service began with a single craft named Mercury, and spectators from all over came to watch the airboat soar effortlessly above the water.

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The hovercraft had day and night services.

If passengers wanted to get between Grimsby and Hull at that time, you either had to take a long train ride or an even longer road trip and hop on one of the three old LDER paddle steamers. They depended on the tides and often had to avoid sandbanks in the river, which made the trip even longer.

The craft gave those who wanted to travel the choice of a different, more reliable and faster option. After undergoing rigorous testing by the Board Of Trade, the hovercraft underwent its very first Humber journey from Cleethorpes to Hull.

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The hovercraft comes from the water on the beach.
The hovercraft comes from the water on the beach.

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With just five customers on board, the futuristic-looking hovercraft first took off from the Tidal Basin ten minutes late at 8.40am in February 1969 and arrived safely in Hull half an hour later. late. They reached an impressive speed of 30 knots – around 35 mph.

It was hailed as the start of a new era of transport in the Humber. and soon rivaled long-running ferries that were often delayed.

Shortly after the success of the Humber Hovercraft, they met a more worthy rival when a separate hovercraft service set up shop. They called themselves Humber Hoverferry Limited. It was created by “Ted” E Rogers and his directors, including John Ross, Henry Taylor and Ron Bannister.

They introduced another hovercraft on the road called Minerva. She was briefly used between Hull Pier and Grimsby Docks. Some people may remember seeing flickering orange lights bouncing off the water from land as they crossed the River Humber at night.



An illustration produced in 1969 to inform people of the new hovercraft link between Hull and Grimsby.
An illustration produced in 1969 to inform people of the new hovercraft link between Hull and Grimsby.

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The new, lighter contraption didn’t last long. The new design looked good but was not ideal for the unforgiving waters of the Tidal Basin and there were mooring issues. It also suffered extensive damage and was often taken out of service for time-consuming and very expensive repairs – and soon after it disappeared.

However, small craft were still kept and put to good use. Pleasure trips were made between Cleethorpes and Skegness beaches during the hot summer months for a short time, but were eventually stopped due to financial problems.

Do you remember taking a trip on one of the hovercraft? We’d love to hear your memories in the comments below!



Friendly Hull police help three-year-old twins Margaret and Heather Kelly cross the road on March 16, 1965.

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