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Pictures from the Heritage Archives

Sharp eyed viewers may have noticed, and wondered, what the relevance is of the name high up, above the Westland emblem on the Hovercraft.

Peter and Alexander Campbell were the sons of Captain Bob Campbell who operated a steamboat on the River Clyde in Scotland. In 1887 their paddle steamer 'Waverley' was moved to the Bristol Channel. (not to be confused with the steamboat Waverley, we know today, which is we believe the third steamboat so named). In 1893 the company P & A Campbell was formed and they used the White Funnel as the company logo.

Eleven of the companies ships were requisitioned for mine-sweeping duties and one as a troopship during the first world war and again during the second war, the fleet was called to war service. By 1968 the company had switched from steam driven boats to motor vessels. This picture taken in 1963 records the start of a brief experiment using a high speed craft.

Our second picture records the inauguration of the service between Weston-Super-Mare and Penarth. It is Wednesday, 24th July 1963 and once the photos are taken the dignitaries can board and in a swirl of flying sand off we go. No concrete apron here and spectators kept to a safe distance by a chestnut paling fence.

The trial was sponsored by the Castrol oil company and lasted for six weeks. For this exercise, it is stated that up to 70 passengers could be carried the 10 miles across the Bristol Channel in just 10 minutes. The service was run in tandem with the regular steamships and sadly despite the time saving, there was just not sufficient demand to make it a commercial proposition.

The SR-N2 moved away to explore the waters of 'la Manche'.


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