Saturday, October 13, 2012

Thames Barrier

London The Unfinished City
A great barrier, restrains the mighty river.

Tuesday October 13, 2012.

I had begun to travel further east, rather than staying in the more familiar central and western areas of the 
Unfinished City. What had made this easier was the newly improved transport links, that included the Jubilee Line, the Emirates Air Line Cable Car, the Docklands Light Railway and the Thames Clipper.

I had taken the Jubilee Line to the Greenwich Peninsula, where I took a flight on the Emirates Air Line and then walked through the Docklands, and Silvertown, before I reached the Thames Barrier Park.

The weather was warm, with just a few clouds bubbling up from the south, as I stared out across the River Thames towards Woolwich, which was when I took this shot.

Brief History

Construction work of the Thames Barrier began in 1974, although the suggestion of some sort of flood defence had been around since 1953. Although it became operational in 1982, it wasn't officially opened until May 8 1984, by Queen Elizabeth II.

London The Unfinished City
A model of one of the gates.

Spanning across 520 metres of the River Thames, near Woolwich, the Thames Barrier is the World's second largest movable flood barrier. There are ten steel gates that can each hold back 90,000 tonnes of water. The four main gates are 20 metres high, span 61 metres and weigh 3,300 tonnes each. Its four main shipping channels span the same width as Tower Bridge.

Since its opening it has seen a dramatic increase in closures, over the decades:

1980s there were 4 closures.

1990s there were 35 closures.

2000s there were 75 closures.

2010s (up to March 2014) there were 65 closures.

  • The Thames Barrier is expected to provide protection, for London, until 2070, although its standard of protection will decline gradually from around 2030.
  • The main risk to the Thames Barrier is, strangely enough, fire in the electric motors that operate it.

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