Sandbanks Ferry is out of action until Friday morning due to a broken chain - believed to have been caused by the incoming Barfleur on Wednesday morning.

The  ferry will be tested this afternoon but staff tweeted they were hoping to recommence service on Friday morning at 7am.

Steve Wilson,engineer for the Bournemouth-Swanage Motor Road and Ferry Company, told the Daily Echo the incident happened during a “very, very low tide”.

Large traffic queues, compounded by an earlier accident that forced the closure of the A35 at Morden Park Corner, are building up - particularly on the Swanage side as drivers seek alternative routes into Purbeck.

A Brittany Ferries spokesman said: “The Barfleur seems to have been involved, there is an investigation going on.

“It is not definitive that the Barfleur caused the damage, but certainly the chain broke when the Barfleur was passing.

“It seems she (Barfleur) is operating normally at the moment. It is very unlikely there has been any damage done to her. There was an extremely low tide this morning, which may be related to the incident.”

The chain on the ferry was damaged at 6.26am on Wednesday morning, as the Barfleur was coming into Poole Harbour.

 The Sandbanks chain ferry being repaired this morning. Picture by Becky Stares. 

Once the ferry reaches Cherbourg divers will inspect its hull and propeller for any evidence of a collision and to check if any damage has been caused.

In a statement the Bournemouth-Swanage Motor Road and Ferry Company said: "Due to a chain being broken the Sandbanks to Shell Bay Ferry Service has been suspended from 7.00am on Wednesday 16th July 2014. 

"We apologise to all our customers for the inconvenience this will cause."