The Red Funnel Ferry making one of its' hourly crossings from Southampton to the Isle of Wight. Each year the ferry service carries in excess of three million passengers and covers more than 450,000 miles. The Red Funnel Ferry service was formed in 1861 as The Southampton Isle of Wight and South of England Royal Mail Steam Packet Company Limited.
The story began in the 1820's, when scheduled year-round Packet Services started operating between Southampton, Cowes, Ryde, Southsea and Portsmouth Harbour. Excursion Services were also a mainstay activity during Victorian and Edwardian summers with daily trips along the South Coast and across the channel to France. After World War II the recession and changing holiday habits led to the decline of the excursion business particularly in the light of a growing car ownership.