Cowes Floating Bridge Live Cam

A vehicular chain ferry which crosses the River Medina

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The Cowes Floating Bridge, also known as the Cowes Chain Ferry, is a historic transport link that connects the town of Cowes on the Isle of Wight, England, to East Cowes on the opposite bank of the River Medina. It has a long and interesting history that dates back to the 19th century.

The first Cowes Floating Bridge was introduced in 1859 as a way to facilitate transportation between Cowes and East Cowes, which are situated on opposite sides of the river. The original design of the floating bridge involved the use of chains anchored to the riverbed, allowing it to traverse the river using the force of the current. This early version was known as the "Chain Ferry."

Over the years, the Cowes Floating Bridge underwent several upgrades and replacements due to wear and tear. The service played a crucial role in the economic and social life of the Isle of Wight, providing a vital link for commuters, tourists, and businesses.

One notable event in the history of the Cowes Floating Bridge occurred in 1954 when the second floating bridge (Chain Ferry No. 2) was launched. This new version introduced significant improvements and modernization to the service. However, despite the upgrades, the floating bridge experienced occasional mishaps and accidents, making its operation somewhat unreliable.

In 2017, the Cowes Floating Bridge made headlines when a new vessel, named "Floating Bridge No. 6," was introduced to replace its predecessor. This new ferry was designed to be more technologically advanced and efficient, aiming to provide a smoother and more reliable service. However, it faced numerous technical problems and operational issues upon its launch, which led to a lot of criticism from the local community.

Despite its rich history and importance to the local community, the Cowes Floating Bridge has faced various challenges throughout the years. Technical issues, operational difficulties, and occasional accidents have brought about calls for improvements or alternative transportation solutions.

Historical Facts

  • Inception: The Cowes Floating Bridge service was inaugurated in 1859. The original ferry, known as the "Chain Ferry," operated using chains anchored to the riverbed to navigate across the River Medina.
  • Connection between Cowes and East Cowes: The primary purpose of the Cowes Floating Bridge was to connect the towns of Cowes and East Cowes, both located on the Isle of Wight, separated by the River Medina.
  • Chain Ferry No. 2: In 1954, a new and improved version of the Cowes Floating Bridge, called "Chain Ferry No. 2," was launched to replace the aging original ferry. It brought about advancements in technology and design, making the service more efficient.
  • Vital Transport Link: The Cowes Floating Bridge has served as a vital transport link for residents, commuters, tourists, and businesses, facilitating easy access between the two sides of the river.
  • Technical Challenges: Throughout its history, the Cowes Floating Bridge has encountered technical challenges and operational difficulties. Mechanical issues and occasional accidents have resulted in disruptions to the service.
  • Replacement with Floating Bridge No. 6: In 2017, the aging Chain Ferry No. 2 was retired, and a new ferry, "Floating Bridge No. 6," was introduced. The new vessel aimed to be more technologically advanced and provide a more reliable service.
  • Controversy and Criticism: Floating Bridge No. 6 faced numerous teething problems and controversies upon its launch. Technical glitches, difficulties with loading and unloading vehicles, and disruptions to service led to criticism from the local community.
  • Heritage and Local Importance: The Cowes Floating Bridge has become an integral part of the local heritage and is regarded as an iconic feature of the Isle of Wight.
  • Tourist Attraction: The Floating Bridge, with its unique mode of operation, has also become a tourist attraction, drawing visitors who are interested in experiencing this historical transportation method.
  • Operational Changes: Over the years, the Cowes Floating Bridge has undergone various changes in terms of its operation, vessel design, and facilities to cater to the evolving needs of the community.

These historical facts showcase the significance of the Cowes Floating Bridge as a transportation link and its enduring legacy on the Isle of Wight. As with any longstanding infrastructure, it has experienced its share of challenges and adaptations over time.


The Cowes Floating Bridge operates on the River Medina, which is located on the Isle of Wight, an island off the southern coast of England. The River Medina runs through the central part of the Isle of Wight, and it divides the towns of Cowes and East Cowes.

  • Cowes is situated on the northeastern side of the River Medina, while East Cowes is on the southwestern side. The two towns are connected by the Cowes Floating Bridge, allowing for the convenient transport of people, vehicles, and goods between the two locations.
  • The River Medina is not an exceptionally wide river, but it is a navigable waterway that has played a significant role in the history and economy of the Isle of Wight. The Cowes Floating Bridge provides an essential link across this river, facilitating daily commuting, tourism, and business activities between Cowes and East Cowes.
  • The geography of the area surrounding the Cowes Floating Bridge is characterized by the natural beauty of the Isle of Wight. The island is known for its picturesque landscapes, including rolling hills, cliffs, beaches, and charming villages. Cowes and East Cowes, as coastal towns, have a maritime heritage and are famous for hosting various sailing events, including the renowned Cowes Week sailing regatta, which attracts sailors and spectators from around the world.

The Cowes Floating Bridge itself operates within this scenic environment, providing both locals and visitors with a unique experience as they cross the River Medina. It has become an integral part of the area's geography and an iconic feature that represents the historical and practical connection between Cowes and East Cowes on the Isle of Wight.