Red Funnel, formally the Southampton Isle of Wight and South of England Royal Mail Steam Packet Company Limited, is a ferry company that carries passengers, vehicles and freight on routes between the English mainland and the Isle of Wight. Red Funnel high-speed foot passenger catamarans, known as Red Jets, run between Southampton and Cowes, while vehicle ferries run between Southampton and East Cowes.
Red Funnel’s main competitor is Wightlink whose services operate from Portsmouth to Fishbourne and Ryde, and from Lymington to Yarmouth. The other major Solent ferry company, Hovertravel, operates between Southsea and Ryde. Both provide a frequent service to the Isle of Wight, but neither normally serve Southampton, Cowes or East Cowes.
The origins of Red Funnel date back to 1820, when the Isle of Wight Royal Mail Steam Packet Company was established by Cowes interests to operate the first steamer service from there to Southampton. In 1826, the Isle of Wight Steam Packet Company was formed in Southampton, and by the following year the two companies had started co-ordinating their operations. In 1860, the Southampton, Isle of Wight & Portsmouth Improved Steamboat Company was created to compete with the two established operators, and the threat posed caused the two older companies to merge. They subsequently acquired the assets of the Improved Steamboat Company in 1865.
Formed in 1861, and called The Southampton, Isle of Wight and South of England Royal Mail Steam Packet Company Limited, the merged company’s name remains the longest for a registered company in the United Kingdom. The shortened name Red Funnel was adopted after 1935 when all the company’s ships had a black-topped red funnel. The longer name remains the company’s formal name.
The company originally operated a paddle steamer ferry service between Cowes, Isle of Wight and Southampton. During its history the company has operated other routes connecting the Isle of Wight and the English mainland, together with a sizable excursion steamer business along the South Coast of England including day trips from the Isle of Wight to France, but today services are concentrated on two routes. In 1931 it introduced its first diesel ferry, the MV Medina. Ferries have steadily increased in size to the current Scottish-built Raptor class operated between East Cowes and Town Quay in Southampton. Between 1969 and the 1990, the company also ran Italian-built hydrofoils between Town Quay and Cowes. This route is now served by high-speed, passenger-only catamarans.
In 1867 Red Funnel instituted a service crossing the River Medina between Cowes and East Cowes. This service was operated by a series of small launches over the years. The service ceased on the outbreak of war in 1939 when the vessels involved were requisitioned by the Admiralty. In 1868 the company took over the Cowes Floating Bridge Company and operated the floating bridge until 1901.
Redfunnel car ferry from Southampton up to the 15th December and the 3rd January to 8th February inclusive :
Travel Tues, Wed and Thurs anytime and between 1700 and 0800 Fri, Sat, Sun and Monday. Prices per person minimum of 2 travelling:
1 NIGHT £35.50, 2 NIGHTS £55.50, 3 NIGHTS £75.50
Travel Fri, Sat, Sun and Mon between 0830 and 1630
I Night £38.50, 2 Nights £58.50, 3Nights £78.50
For different combination of nights or times please email or phone.
Minimum of 2 people sharing.
Want a breakfast add £4pppn
More nights please contact for price.
The price is cheaper if 3 or more share a car, contact for price.
Subject to availability.