x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Time Frame: Sheikh Rashid's day on the Thames

Visiting London in the summer of 1963, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai, saw the sights from the deck of the revolutionary new Denny 02 hoverbus.

Keystone-France / Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images
Keystone-France / Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

Visiting London in the summer of 1963, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai, discovered his hosts had a special treat in store for him.

So it was that Sheikh Rashid and members of his entourage spent the day on the Thames, enjoying the view from the deck of the revolutionary new Denny 02 hoverbus.

Invented and manufactured in Scotland, the Denny 02 was a passenger vessel that had just sailed down the east coast of Britain to begin trials as a river ferry for Thames Launches. Unlike other hovercraft, the Denny 02 (what happened to 01 is not known), featured rigid sides, rising up on a cushion of air directly under the craft. It boasted a top speed of 25 nautical knots and could carry up to 70 passengers at £1 a time. In July 1963, just before this photo was taken, the New Scientist reviewed the hoverbus, remarking that the craft was "perhaps too noisy, too enclosed and its spray visually too obstructing".

The writer added: "As a means of getting from A to B, however, it is obviously fast by river standards and manoeuvrable."

If the manufacturers, William Denny and Brothers of Dumbarton, hoped to persuade Sheikh Rashid to order a fleet of hoverbuses for Dubai, they were sadly out of luck. The Denny 02 was judged to have failed its evaluation the following year, sending the company into liquidation.

After a number of adventures the hoverbus was eventually sold in 1970 to begin life on a new route in the Caribbean linking downtown Kingston, Jamaica, with the island's Palisadoes Airport.

Time Frame is a series that opens a window into the nation's past. Readers are invited to make contributions to yourpics@thenational.ae