We have joined The Company of Watermen & Lightermen of the River Thames in calling for full navigation under Hammersmith Bridge to be resumed.
When the bridge was condemned as dangerous and closed last August, no boats were allowed to pass under this iconic bridge on the tidal Thames. Although a traffic light controlled system for booked passages for vessels that meet a strict criteria is now in place, transit is still severely restricted. This is having a significant impact on passenger boats and other commercial operators. It is also preventing any privately owned boats from travelling down the River into London, or completing the Thames Ring.
The closure has caused considerable hardship, inconvenience and cost to commercial operators. These businesses have already been badly impacted by the Covid lockdown and restrictions over the last year. And at least one business has failed as a direct result of the bridge closure.
The closure caused this year’s Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race to be relocated to the River Ouse at Ely. This is the first time the Race has been moved since the second world war. Delays in carrying out engineering checks have added to the slow progress in reopening the bridge.
In a joint letter sent to the Transport Minister, Baroness Vere, we asked for some practical measures to allow navigation to resume. Traffic was able to continue during the construction of the Blackfriars Station extension over the Thames. Similarly, the bridge could be made safe in a way that allows traffic to pass underneath while the repairs are carried out. The letter was also co-signed by British Marine and the Commercial Boat Operators Association among others.