|Employees||between 600 – 750|
Their core routes are car ferries from Lymington to Yarmouth (30 minutes) and Portsmouth to Fishbourne (40 minutes). A fast passenger-only catamaran operates between Portsmouth Harbour and Ryde Pier Head (taking 18 minutes), and directly links into the Island Line rail line.
Wightlink and its forerunners have provided ferry services to and from the Isle of Wight for more than 160 years. In the early nineteenth century, ferries ran to the island from Lymington and Portsmouth. Later, steam ferries operated a circular route around Lymington, Yarmouth, Cowes, Ryde and Portsmouth. When the rail companies became involved they concentrated on two direct routes, Lymington – Yarmouth and Portsmouth – Ryde. Ownership of the ferries eventually passed from the British Railways Board to Sealink UK Limited.
In 1984 Sealink UK Limited was denationalised and the operating name became Sealink British Ferries, which was subsequently bought by the Bermuda based Sea Containers Ltd. When Stena Line bought Sealink British Ferries in 1990, the Isle of Wight ferries remained with Sea Containers, as ‘Wightlink’. In June 1995 Wightlink was the subject of a management buy-in. In 2005 it was bought by the Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund for an estimated £240,000,000.
In October 2006 Wightlink announced its intention to build two new ferries for the Yarmouth to Lymington route. These ships are slightly bigger than their predecessors, with extra vehicle space, but will only accommodate 360 passengers compared to 500 on the older vessels. Wightlink later announced that a third new ferry would enter service in spring 2009. A dispute with some Lymington residents led to delay and threatened the viability of the route. In November 2008, the service was reduced so only 2 ships were required, allowing for the delay in the introduction of the new vessels. Sea trials were not complete by November 2008 and introduction became pressing with the expiry of safety certificates on the previous fleet. Wightlink proposed interim arrangements enabling them restricted use of the new ferries until the trials can be completed in full.
In March 2008 Wightlink revealed that an order has been placed with FBMA Marine to construct 2 new passenger catamarans for the Portsmouth to Ryde service, to replace the three craft currently employed. They entered service in 2009.
From May 2008 Wightlink introduced a fuel surcharge on all crossings, linked to the price of Brent Crude oil. However in November 2008 the surcharge dropped to zero following the sharp reduction in crude prices during the credit crunch and as of November 2009 is still at zero.
Wightlink planned to spend £17.5M on improving their Portsmouth-Fishbourne route. This involved remodelling the terminal facilities at both Fishbourne and Portsmouth. Their flagship MV St Clare was to have its upper car deck adjusted so vehicles access it directly from on-shore ramps. Two of the older ferries were to be stretched in length by 12 metres, with upper car decks similar to St Clare's being added, replacing movable mezzanine decks. Of the remaining two ferries, St Catherine has been sold and St Helen was to be used mainly for freight.
The planned investment was shelved to due spiraling costs, caused by:-
Legal action against the introduction of the new Lymington ships by the LMA
Rebuilding of the wooden roadway of Ryde Pier and structural work on the Pier Head itself
Steep increases in fuel costs.
Plans for new, larger but slower car ferries have come to light (19 April 2013) after a report by BBC local television. Wightlink have yet to publish information or show details of any new ships and as to date, no instruction to build such ships seems to have been made.
The following passenger-only catamarans operate on the Ryde Pier head to Portsmouth route:
Wight Ryder I and Wight Ryder II entered service in September 2009.
The following car ferries are used on the Yarmouth to Lymington route:
The introduction of the Wight class ferries was a much discussed affair, with some Lymington residents claiming that the increased size of the ferries posed a risk, both in environmental terms and to users of pleasure craft on the Lymington river.
|PS Glasgow||1830–1850||Solent Steam Packet Co|
|PS Red Lion||1858–1880||Solent Steam Packet Co|
|PS Solent||1841–1861||Solent Steam Packet Co|
|PS Solent||1863||Solent Steam Packet Co|
|PS Mayflower||1866||Solent Steam Packet Co|
|PS Lymington||1893||London and South Western Railway|
|PS Solent||1902||London and South Western Railway|
|PS Freshwater||1927-1959||Southern Railway||Sold and renamed Sussex Queen renamed Swanage Queen|
|MV Lymington||1938–1973||Southern Railway||First Voith Schneider driven ferry. Sold and renamed Sound of Sanda|
|PMV Farringford||1948–1974||British Transport Commission|
|MV Freshwater||1959–1983||British Transport Commission|
|MV Cenwulf||1973–2009||Sealink Isle of Wight|
|MV Cenred||1974–2009||Sealink Isle of Wight|
|MV Caedmon||1983–2009||Sealink Isle of Wight|
|PS Arrow||1825–1851||Portsmouth & Ryde Steam Packet Co|
|PS Union||1825||Portsmouth & Ryde Steam Packet Co|
|PS Lord Yarborough||1826–1851||Portsmouth & Ryde Steam Packet Co|
|PS Lord Spencer||1833|
|PS Prince Albert||1847–1868||Portsmouth & Ryde Steam Packet Co|
|PS Prince of Wales||1850||Portsea, Portsmouth, Gosport & Isle of Wight Steam Packet Co|
|PS Princess Royal||1850||Portsea, Portsmouth, Gosport & Isle of Wight Steam Packet Co|
|PS Her Majesty||1850-1883||Portsmouth & Ryde Steam Packet Co|
|PS Prince Consort||1859–1882||Port of Portsmouth & Ryde United Steam Packet Co|
|PS Princess of Wales||1865–1885||Port of Portsmouth & Ryde United Steam Packet Co|
|PS Duke of Edinburgh||1869–1884||Port of Portsmouth & Ryde United Steam Packet Co|
|PS Princess Alice||1869–1882||Port of Portsmouth & Ryde United Steam Packet Co|
|TS Ventnor||1873–1879||Southsea & Isle of Wight Steam Packet Co|
|TS Shanklin||1873–1879||Southsea & Isle of Wight Steam Packet Co|
|TS Ryde||1873–1879||Southsea & Isle of Wight Steam Packet Co|
|TS Southsea||1873–1879||Southsea & Isle of Wight Steam Packet Co|
|TS Princess Louise||1873–1874||Port of Portsmouth & Ryde United Steam Packet Co|
|TS Princess Beatrice||1874-1874||Port of Portsmouth & Ryde United Steam Packet Co|
|PS Heather Bell||1875||Port of Portsmouth & Ryde United Steam Packet Co|
|PS Albert Edward||1878||Port of Portsmouth & Ryde United Steam Packet Co|
|PS Alexandra||1879–1913||Port of Portsmouth & Ryde United Steam Packet Co||Sold to Cosens & Co Ltd|
|PS Victoria||1881–1899||Joint Railway Companies Steampacket Service|
|PS Duchess of Edinburgh||1884–1910||Joint Railway Companies Steampacket Service|
|PS Duchess of Connaught||1884–1910||Joint Railway Companies Steampacket Service|
|PS Duchess of Albany||1890–1927||Joint Railway Companies Steampacket Service|
|PS Princess Margaret||1893–1927||Joint Railway Companies Steampacket Service|
|PS Duchess of Kent||1897–1933||Joint Railway Companies Steampacket Service||Sold and renamed Clacton Queen|
|PS Duchess of Fife||1890–1929||Joint Railway Companies Steampacket Service|
|PS Duchess of Richmond||1910–1915||Joint Railway Companies Steampacket Service||Mined in the Mediterranean|
|PS Duchess of Norfolk||1911–1937||Joint Railway Companies Steampacket Service||Sold and renamed Embassy|
|PS Shanklin||1924–1950||Southern Railway||Sold and renamed Monarch|
|PS Merstone||1928–1952||Southern Railway|
|PS Portsdown||1928–1941||Southern Railway||Mined off Southsea|
|PS Southsea||1930–1941||Southern Railway||J113 HMS Southsea mined off the River Tyne|
|PS Whippingham||1930–1962||Southern Railway||J136 HMS Whippingham in WW2|
|PS Sandown||1934–1965||Southern Railway||J20 HMS Sandown in WW2, evacuated 3000 men at Dunkirk|
|PS Ryde||1937–1969||Southern Railway||J132 HMS Ryde in WW2|
|MV Brading||1948–1986||British Transport Commission|
|MV Southsea||1948–1988||British Transport Commission|
|MV Shanklin||1951–1980||British Transport Commission||Sold and renamed Prince Ivanhoe|
|HSC Our Lady Patricia||1986–2008||Sealink|
|HSC Our Lady Pamela||1986–2008||Sealink|
|HSC FastCat Shanklin||1996–2009||Wightlink||Sold and renamed Sochi 2|
|HSC FastCat Ryde||1996–2010||Wightlink||Sold and renamed Rapparee, renamed Sochi 1|
|MV Fishbourne||1927–1961||Southern Railway||Sent to Dunkirk in 1940|
|MV Wootton||1928–1961||Southern Railway||Sent to Dunkirk in 1940|
|MV Hillsea||1930–1961||Southern Railway|
|MV Fishbourne||1961–1983||British Transport Commission|
|MV Camber Queen||1961–1984||British Transport Commission|
|MV Cuthred||1969–1986||British Transport Commission|
|MV St Catherine||1983–2010||Sealink|
|TF Carrier||1885–1888||Isle of Wight Marine Transit Co||Ex Firth of Tay ferry|
Every year, Wightlink carries:
- 5 ½ million passengers
- over 1.2 million cars
- almost 200,000 coaches and freight vehicles
- Annual revenue £51 million
- "History". Wightlink. Retrieved 29 March 2009.
- "Threat to ferry route". Isle of Wight County Press. 7 November 2008. Retrieved 1 April 2009.
- "Isle of Wight: MP Andrew Turner asks why introduction of new Wightlink ferry is being delayed". Isle of Wight County Press. 14 November 2008. Retrieved 21 November 2008.[dead link]
- "New Lymington Timetable". Wightlink. Retrieved 21 November 2008.[dead link]
- Andrew Wilson (20 November 2008). "Press Statement: Introduction of new Ferries". Retrieved 29 March 2009.[dead link]
- "Fuel Surcharge". Wightlink. Archived from the original on 22 August 2008. Retrieved 29 March 2009.
- "Portsmouth to Fishbourne Investment". Wightlink. Retrieved 2009-03-27.
- "Portsmouth to Fishbourne Car Ferry Service – The Way Forward". Wightlink. Summer 2008.
- "WightLink chronological history". Wightlink. 2009. Retrieved 1 January 2010.
- "History of Isle of Wight Ferries – Wightlink". Archived from the original on 4 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
- Hendy, John. (1989) Sealink Isle of Wight, Ferry Publications
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