3 Feb 2014

Hovercraft to Holland

When Bond travels to Holland in Diamonds are Forever, posing as diamond smuggler Peter Franks, he takes the hovercraft across the English channel. This was a fairly new transportation method in the early 1970's and probably a little more exiting for the audience back then. 

                 "-What can I bring you back from Holland?
                                -A diamond, in a ring...
                 -Will you settle for a tulip?" 
                                         -Bond to Moneypenny-

Bond in Peter Franks' Triumph Stag Mk 1.
Bond is embarking from the ferry terminal in Dover, with Calais in France as the likely destination. Since the hovercraft service was not available to Holland, Bond would have had to drive up to Amsterdam from northern France. It is probably meant for the audience to believe that the hovercraft went straight to Amsterdam, but consequently that route was not available. The hovercraft would either go to Calais or Boulogne-sur-mer.

The hovercraft in the film belongs to Seaspeed, which was a joint hovercraft operation of British Rail in association with the French SNCF. Seaspeed started cross-channel services in 1968. The hovercraft Bond is traveling on is called Princess Margaret and the model (SR-N4) was the largest hovercraft in commercial operation. This form of transportation was quite new at the time of filming and that is the reason why the cool, dramatic Bond theme was used when the hovercraft leaves port. The fact that this hovercraft service is no longer available makes this scene a nice piece of history, even though the excitement of a hovercraft feels a little dated today. Still, this was the fastest way of crossing the channel and the record of 35 minutes across has yet to be battered. The hovercraft technique was invented in Britain in the 1950's.

Following the opening of the Channel tunnel (1994), the hovercraft operations were discontinued in 2000. The service had become unprofitable and the hovercrafts were getting old.

1 comment:

  1. Seaspeed hovercraft was fun to ride. I rode it and you go up quickly ten feet in the air when they start. The ride was smooth over the sea, lots of fun.