The Floating Bridge off Gosport, c.1840


A high quality reproduction from a rare lithograph printed about 1840.

Overall size including frame: 50 x 61.4 cm

For centuries all passengers and goods were transported across the harbour by watermen using wherries or rowing boats. The newly formed Port of Portsmouth Floating Bridge Company survived a petition by eleven hundred watermen and the bridge, built in Bristol and measuring 100 feet long, went into operation in 1840 between the Gosport waterfront and the Point at Old Portsmouth. It was propelled by two steam engines mounted on two heavy chains and transported carriages, carts and livestock, as well as motor cars and other vehicular traffic. The floating bridge operated continuously until 1959.

The ship on the left is HMS York, a 74-gun ship of the line launched in 1807. After service in the Napoleonic wars she entered Portsmouth Harbour in 1819 where she was stripped of her masts and guns and converted into a prison ship, being finally broken up in 1854. The fine building in the centre of the picture is the Gosport Market House, built in 1811 and damaged by enemy action in 1941 before being demolished in the 1960s.

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