Ramsgate Hoverport

Ramsgate, Kent, England, UK

Demolished 1987

The Disappointed Tourist: Ramsgate Hoverport, Ellen Harvey, 2021. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 18 x 24″ (46 x 61 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

In its time, travel by hovercraft seemed so exciting and incredibly novel. I think I only travelled once from Pegwell Bay as a teenager but when many years later, I found myself living down the road from the derelict site, I marvelled at how in such a short period of time the optimism of European travel via such strange looking contraptions was extinguished so quickly. Today I love how nature has reclaimed much of this site but there still remain vestiges of the hoverport – a bridge, roundabout, traffic bollards and tarmac. Victoria P.

Ramsgate International Hoverport, located in Pegwell Bay,was the home base for the Swedish Hoverlloyd’s cross-Channel hovercraft service between Ramsgate, England and Calais, France. It opened in 1969 and by 1980 operated a fleet of four SR. N4s hovercrafts, each of which could carry 30 cars and 254 passengers, with about 27 daily departures. The increase in maintenance costs resulting from the closure of the British Hovercraft corporation, the high cost of fuel, the loss of duty-free sales and finally, competition from the Channel Tunnel, all contributed to make hovercraft service less economically viable. In 1981, Hoverlloyd merged with rival hovercraft provider Seaspeed, to form Hoverspeed, which continued to operate until 2000. The services from Ramsgate were discontinued in 1982 and transferred to Dover. The hoverport was used a base for repairs for a couple of years and then allowed to fall into disrepair. It was demolished in 1987.