Is the Thames Barrier’s visitor centre good enough?

A London mayoral hopeful has voiced fears for the future of the Thames Barrier’s visitor centre after it was revealed visitor numbers have dropped sharply over the past three years.

Liberal Democrat Mike Tuffrey, who hopes to become the party’s candidate in next year’s election, said the fall in visitors was a “serious concern”.

The London Assembly member said: “At a time when awareness of flooding needs to be increased, I suggest that perhaps the centre could be doing more to engage with the public.”

Between April 2007 and March 2008, 15,191 people visited the centre, but this had fallen to 9,351 in the year to March 2011.

In a letter to the Environment Agency’s chairman, Lord Smith of Finsbury, he said many of the exhibits were “somewhat dated” and did not address the threat to the river from untreated sewage.

“I would be grateful if you could provide some assurances that the Environment Agency is committed to maintaining the centre and is planning improvements,” he continued.

“It is an important asset for London and a public showcase for the agency. An updated information centre, properly marketed, could attract far more visitors each year and would be hugely beneficial for your work and London.”

An Environment Agency spokesperson told the Mercury that the fall in numbers was down to fewer school parties visiting since its learning centre closed, but it had a target of 15,000 visitors for the current year.

6 thoughts on “Is the Thames Barrier’s visitor centre good enough?

  1. ThePirateKing August 11, 2011 / 14:31

    I often take the kids down there to the riverside playground. Things have had the feeling of going backwards for a few years now. Earlier this year, the main cafe was shut for about two months (there was a makeshift cafe open in the building further back from the river.) It’s reopened now, but has become (they tell me) more of a convention centre. Currently the cafe is shut Mondays and Tuesday (it didn’t use to be) and they have stopped selling the bots & bobs (notebooks etc etc) that they sold with the Barrier on them. (They were all sold off at about 10% of their original price in the makeshift cafe.)

    The visitor centre has always looked about 20 years behind the times. Not that much for kids / school kids there and all of it in a deep and dark basement.

  2. Simon August 16, 2011 / 23:30

    Let’s see if we can get a community meeting about the Visitor Centre – we need to be more visible with our campaign to improve Charlton, particularly Charlton Riverside …

  3. Andy February 6, 2012 / 19:42

    It appears that there is no mention about the contributions of Civil Diving work practices or acknowledgement in the building of the Thames Barrier of the Diving company involved.Which is a shame as without it……..The Thames Barrier would have not been made !

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