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Duke Of Kent Visits Hovercraft Manufacturer

His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent visited hovercraft manufacturer Griffon Hoverwork last week at the company’s manufacturing plant in Southampton. The founders of Griffin Hoverwork were part of the business which set up the world’s first ever hovercraft operation, alongside Sir Christopher Cockerel. His Royal Highness expressed a desire to visit Griffin Hoverwork after hearing of its achievements over the years as a leading exporter and innovator. His wish finally came true last week as he was taken on a tour of the factory. He met with staff and walked through the manufacturing area, where he observed the production processes.

Adrian Went, Managing Director said: “A visit from the Duke of Kent is rather special to Griffon Hoverwork.  His interests bring together much of what the business stands for including; rescue, he is President of RNLI, export, in his Vice Presidency of the predecessor to the Department for International Trade and innovation and engineering in his roles at the Royal Institution and the Royal Academy of Engineering.  His insight has been fascinating.”

The Duke of Kent is a cousin of Her Majesty The Queen. He is the son of Prince George, Duke of Kent and Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark. He married Katharine Worsley in 1961 and they have three surviving children George, Earl of St Andrews (born 26 June 1962), Lady Helen Taylor (born 28 April 1964) and Lord Nicholas Windsor (born 25 July 1970) and ten grandchildren. He inherited the Dukedom of Kent in 1942 when his father was killed when his plane crashed in bad weather in Caithness. At the time of his birth, he was seventh in the line of succession to the throne of his grandfather King George V, after the birth of Princess Charlotte in 2015 he was 34th in the line of succession.

  • Robin Paine

    For those interested in these fascinating machines, there is a 700 page book, with 450 pictures called ‘On a Cushion of Air’, (also available on Kindle a well as hard and paperback), which tells the story of Christopher Cockerell’s discovery that heavy weights could be supported on a cushion of low pressure air, and the development of the hovercraft by those who were there, from the very early days through to the heyday of the giant 165-ton SRN.4, which crossed the English Channel starting in 1968 carrying 30 cars and 254 passengers at speeds in excess of 75 knots on a calm day. It was subsequently widened to carry 36 cars and 280 passengers with an A.U.W. of 200 tons and was later lengthened to an A.U.W of 325 tons and capable of carrying 55 cars and 424 passengers. The amazing point was that from 165 tons to 325 tons only 400 extra hp on each engine was required, although a bit of speed was sacrificed, proving conclusively that Christopher Cockerell’s theory was sound.

    There is also a 1 hour 20 minute DVD ‘On a Cushion of Air’ based on the book available through Amazon UK.

    Sadly, for economic reasons, the service came to an end on 1st October 2000. In total 6 SR.4s were built and the two remaining ones are in the Hovercraft Museum at Lee-on-Solent.

    Griffon, however, has done a marvellous job in taking over from The British Hovercraft Corporation and becoming the world leader in the small to medium size hovercraft.

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