In 1989, to howls of protest from the motoring fraternity of West Cowes, the big ferries stopped calling there and a more memorable hourly service was introduced to East Cowes only. The first quieter (and bigger, smoother and less smelly) catamaran "Red Jet" arrived in 1991 for the passenger only route.
On the upside, though, they still serve cooked food, especially a cracking full English Breakfast. fbb's favourite!
Back in the 80s, whilst Wightlink introduced the dreaded "computers" for bookings, Red Funnel still used hardboard clipboards with lists of names written down with a "pen"; and a friendly gent in peaked cap, white shirt and smart uniform (with golden buttons) checking you off in the departure lanes at the East Cowes terminal. It all seemed efficient enough and, somehow, made the homeward journey feel a lot better. Alas, no longer: that personal service has long gone and Red Funnel is computerised.
The obvious benefits are; for the passenger, much longer check-in times and longer queues to buy a ticket whilst, for the poor residents of East Cowes, huge tailbacks at busy times as cars attenpt to break in to the terminal area. Progress indeed - NOT.
1861 to 2011 - Red Funnel is 150 years old. All together now:-
A "Red Funnel Reprise" blog will follow later.
next blog : due on Wednesday April 27th