Thames Barrier likely to be in record books this year


The world’s second largest movable flood barrier, built across the River Thames at Woolwich, the largest is in Holland, looks like entering the record books this year. The great steel gates are set to have been used in anger more in 2007 than in any other year.

Before 1990, the number of barrier closures was one to two per year on average. Since 1990, the number of barrier closures has increased to an average of about four per year. In 2003 the barrier was closed on 14 consecutive tides. The barrier was closed twice on November 9th 2007 alone after a storm surge in the North Sea which was compared to the one in 1953.

As well as the Thames Barrier, the smaller gates along the Thames Tideway include Barking Barrier, King George V Lock gate, Dartford Barrier and gates at Tilbury Docks and Canvey Island. The one at Shuttlewood’s Boat Yard on the River Roach in Essex was closed to hold back the high tides last weekend. But I noticed that water was still pouring in beneath it at HW. Let’s hope this does not happen to the Thames Barrier. One estimate puts the damage at £13 billion if London does get a soaking.