After Telstar, Rhyl’s residents and visitors have this week been privileged to see another miracle of scientific progress – the Vickers-Armstrong VA-3, which arrived on Sunday to prepare for the first scheduled passenger carrying hovercoach service in the world.
Strange but true!
It says so here.
The world’s first commercial passenger hovercraft service ran briefly from Rhyl to Moreton beach in 1962, but ended when a storm hit the passenger hovercraft while it was moored, damaging its lifting engines.
I’m fascinated by hovercrafts, they were for a while the future that we seemed to have been promised, a future that had consistently failed to arrive.
Until even they failed to arrive, or depart for that matter.
I do have a love of doomed hovercraft services – I’ve been to Pegwell Bay.
Youngest passenger was 21 months old Martin Jones, 128, Marsh Road, who travelled with his mother, Mrs Millie Jones, an usherette at the Odeon Cinema: his grandmother Mrs Jean Morris, and Mrs Morris’s 14 year old son, Tony, a pupil of Glyndwr County Secondary School, the first schoolboy to travel on the hovercraft. Mr Tony Ward of 13, Aquarium street, a popular figure as accordionist on one of the local pleasure boats a few seasons ago, and his 20 year old daughter Rosemary, cashier at the Odeon, who were among the first to book seats at the North Wales Travel Agency, were also among the passengers.
Mrs Handley was the manageress of the Sports Cafe and got to know all the crew as they had all their meals there, even a farewell party with a cake in the form of a hovercraft.
The Queen and Prince Philip had received an invitation to undertake the trip, but declined perhaps just as well, for on what proved to be the final journey the hovercraft left Wallasey at 1.15 p.m. on September 14th and both engines failed en route.
There has been talk of reviving the service, a service that sadly seems so far to have defied revival.
“It really will be a feather in our cap for Rhyl.”