One of Cowes most iconic features is to be replaced in 2014 after 36 years of service

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The floating bridge, which has ploughed its way across the River Medina between East Cowes and West Cowes for the past 36 years, will make its final voyage in 2014.

Sighs of relief from boaters who have had close encounters with the chain ferry are premature, however, as the Isle of Wight Council has set aside £3 million for a state-of-the-art replacement. “We shall be looking for innovation in the design and technology for the new ferry”, said Council leader Councillor David Pugh, “We hope it will last as long as its predecessor has done.”

Chain ferries have linked East and West Cowes since 1859, and the present ferry, Floating Bridge No. 5, is actually the eighth to have been used on the service. It carries some 400,000 motor vehicles and 1.5 million pedestrians and cyclists every year.