After 110 years’ association with Bournemouth, the Belles pleasure boats will no longer be such a familiar sight at the south coast resort. The boats’ operators, Dorset Cruises, failed to win the licence to operate from the town’s pier after the service was put out to tender by the local council.
The current vessels, Bournemouth Belle and Dorset Belle, along with the former Poole Belle, were purpose-built in the 1970s for Bournemouth Pier service, and last year carried around 30,000 people to and from the town, although some sailings will continue from Poole Quay. Rivals Blue Line Cruises secured the five-year licence, which starts on 1 April, and will operate both the Solent Scene (1974) and Jurassic Scene (1979, ex-Lochmor, Torbay Belle) from Bournemouth.
Meanwhile, Swanage Pier Trust has set up an emergency fund to stabilise the weakened structure, which will remain closed to commercial pleasure boats until completion of the work.