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CALAIS HOVERPORT
All 2005 pictures matt@hhvferry.com
The early passenger-only hovercraft operations of Townsend and Hoverlloyd to Calais simply ran up the beach to the west of Calais port and landed on the sand, before an initial hoverport was provided in the mid 1960s between the beach and the port. The large Calais hoverport which remains today on the eastern side of the port was built and owned by Calais Chamber of Commerce and opened on 1 April 1969 to service the car-carrying Hoverlloyd operation from Ramsgate Pegwell Bay. This was later joined by a Seaspeed link from Dover from 1970. After the two rival operations merged into Hoverspeed in 1981, services from Pegwell Bay ceased in 1982.

With the demise of Boulogne in 1993, the Calais hoverport became the only French destination for the remaining two stretched SRN4 craft
The Princess Anne and The Princess Margaret. It was this pair which finally concluded the story of Cross-Channel hovercraft operations in October 2000 when the final flights were undertaken from and to Dover. From then on, Hoverspeed utilised a variety of SeaCats and SuperSeaCats on the Calais-Dover run, operating from the fast craft berth provided adjacent to the hoverport in the 1990s. Gradually however it became clear that the company was not able to turn around the losses it was incurring and the formal announcement of Hoverspeed's final closure came in a press release on 4 November 2005, the last SeaCat sailing from Calais to Dover being just three days later.
Below: the vehicle check-in booths on the eastern side of the terminal.
Top: An overall view of the Calais hoverport in the pre-merger days of the late 1970s or early 1980s with (left to right on the pad), the N500 Naviplane Ingenieur Jean Bertin, one of the stretched Seaspeed SRN4s and lastly one of the unstretched Hoverlloyd SRN4 craft.
Above: a view of the Chartres entering Calais harbour in the late 1970s, but of particular interest on this occasion is the area of land just forward of the ship's funnel. This was the location of the original Calais hoverport and the sloping hoverpad structure still exists today.
Below: The hovercraft themselves may have been gone for more than five years, but Calaisians have been reluctant to say farewell to them. This is L'Hovercraft Bar & Brasserie in June 2005.
CALAIS HOVERPORT in 2005
Above: The building viewed from the east.
Above: In the entranceway to the Calais hoverport is this plaque commemorating the first crossing of the Channel by hovercraft on 25 July 1959.
Above & below: Two views of the check-in and information desks in the main entrance lobby. These pictures were actually taken in December 2005 after the end of Hoverspeed's operations.
Above: The main entrance lobby showing the stairway leading up to the upper level.
Above: The upper level of the hoverport was mostly filled with offices. On the walls throughout the terminal building hung a series of pictures of the hoverport and of the craft which had served it over the years.
Above: The seaward side of the building featured this control tower - separate gates were (right) arrivals and (left) departures, the latter leading into the large waiting area with Duty Free shop.
Above: The hoverport's landing pad served in the post-hovercraft years as a marshalling area for vehicles waiting to board the SeaCats.