See the Thames Barrier in action: 2018’s full closure test set for 23 September

Preparing for the annual test in 2017

The Thames Barrier will close for its ‘full tidal test closure’ on Sunday 23rd September this year.

“Once a year, the Environment Agency holds a full tide test closure of the Thames Barrier. The Barrier gates rotate by 90 degrees into the fully closed defence position stopping the tide going upstream into London. As the tide continues to come in, a higher level of water will build up downstream of the Barrier creating a different water level either side of the gates. Shortly after high tide, the gates will rotate further creating a 2 metre gap underneath (underspill). This in turn creates a white water rush effect behind each of the massive gate structures attracting birds to feed on small fish. This ‘underspill’ lasts approximately 2 hours.

There will be various fun and educational activities for children, talks, demonstrations, information and display stands.

As part of Open House weekend 2018, The Thames Barrier Information Centre will be open and free of charge on the day”.

The Environment Agency, who operate the Barrier, are encouraging visitors to cycle or walk; it’s a great opportunity to try out the recently-opened ‘missing link’ joining the Thames Path east of the Barrier along the riverfront of Thames Side Studios.

Also nearby, The Charlton Champion recommends taking a look at the Thames Barrier memorial, and even checking out the industrial area next door which forms the Charlton Riverside redevelopment area (read more about the proposed Rockwell and Flint Glass Wall developments).

Address for the Thames Barrier:
Thames Barrier Information Centre
1 Unity Way
London
SE18 5NJ

You can keep up to date with activities at the Thames Barrier via their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The Thames Barrier in ‘closed’ position
Thames Barrier Memorial
Unveiled in May 2018, the sculpture is a memorial dedicated to those who worked on London, Kent and Essex’s flood defences
The Thames Barrier lit up in rainbow colours for International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia in May 2018
The Thames Barrier lit up in rainbow colours for International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia in May 2018

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Thames Path ‘missing link’ is launched – with council hoping to open it all night

Cyclists on the Thames Path missing link
Cyclists and walkers gathered on Wednesday for the opening of the Thames Path’s ‘missing link’

The “missing link” on the Thames Path between Charlton and Woolwich opened on Wednesday – with Greenwich Council pledging to finish the job by trying to open it 24 hours a day.

After 15 years of lobbying by Greenwich Cyclists, the £1.5m route from the Thames Barrier in Charlton to King Henry’s Wharf in Woolwich was officially launched by London cycling and walking commissioner Will Norman and Greenwich Council cabinet member Denise Scott-McDonald.

Scott-McDonald, the cabinet member for public realm, told guests that while the connection – which passes through an industrial estate – would “initially” open from 6am to 9pm seven days a week, “our ambition is for it to open 24 hours a day, for everyone”.

The link uses a ramp to pass from the Thames Barrier site into the Westminster Industrial Estate – the old Siemens factory, which dominated the area before closing in 1968 – before passing Thames-Side Studios and the Arts Cafe. A second ramp at the end of Warspite Road then takes walkers and cyclists above the riverside before rejoining the existing Thames Path at King Henry’s Wharf.

Closures by developers aside, the completion of the “missing link” now means near-uninterrupted access to the Thames right through Greenwich borough from Deptford to Thamesmead and beyond, as well as improving cycle access to both North Greenwich tube and the forthcoming Woolwich Crossrail station.

Will Norman, who wheeled a bike through the link as part of the opening ceremony, said: “This really sits at the heart of what the mayor and his team are trying to do: to enable more people to be more active, to get out of their cars and actually enjoy exploring the city and finding new spots. Far more people can access this and use it as part of their daily lives.”

New signage indicates that the link will eventually be joined to Quietway 14, a cycling route which currently runs from Blackfriars Road to Canada Water station.

A Greenwich Council spokesperson told The Charlton Champion that signs directing users to “Greenwich Peninsular” would be corrected.

While the new route will be welcomed, actually getting to the Thames Path can be a challenge for cyclists – particularly crossing the Woolwich Road, which has seen plans for a segregated cycle lane – Cycle Superhighway 4 – dropped. Cyclist Edgaras Cepura was recently killed at the Woolwich Road roundabout in east Greenwich – nine years after Adrianna Skrzypiec died on her bike at the same spot.

Will Norman told The Charlton Champion that the A206 from Greenwich to Woolwich had been identified as one of the top 25 in London that needed action to make it better for cyclists – but that work on the Greenwich one-way system would come before the rest of the route.

Will Norman
Will Norman takes his bike along the “missing link”

He said: “CS4 was separated out under the previous administration into chunks, and the section from Greenwich to Woolwich was downgraded as part of that decision.

“We recently have been looking at the Liveable Neighbourhood programme, and working with the borough to address concerns around the [Greenwich] gyratory and making that safe, which as you know has millions of people coming to visit the Unesco world heritage site.

“Then clearly the next section is to work with the borough on the next part of the route, with borough officers and politicans and coming up with the best way to tackle that.” (See more at our sister site 853.)

Thames Path missing link crowd
Cyclists and walkers gathered for the openeing ceremony (Photo: Charlotte Brooke)

Fixing the missing link was one of the ambitions of campaigner Barry Mason, the former co-ordinator of Greenwich Cyclists and neighbouring Southwark Cyclists, who died in 2011.

Mason was well-known for leading a “midsummer madness” ride on 21 June each year, which would start from the Cutty Sark at 2am and arrive at Primrose Hill to see the sun rise on the longest day of the year.

The Charlton Champion provides news and information about issues and events in London SE7. Help us by telling us your stories – or buy the author a coffee.

Charlton and Woolwich’s Thames Path Missing Link finally due to open

Thames Path missing link
It’s coming… thanks to Paul Stollery for the photo

After years as a council pipedream, then a much-delayed period of planning and construction, the Thames Path’s “missing link” between the Thames Barrier in Charlton and King Henry’s Wharf in Woolwich will finally open next week.

Greenwich Council cabinet member Denise Scott-McDonald and City Hall walking and cycling commissioner Will Norman will open a link between the two sections of path on Wednesday 20 June at 3.30pm. (Want to go? Sign up here, and thanks to Greenwich Council for letting us know.)

Missing Link invite

The pathway – which includes a ramp from the Thames Barrier site into the adjacent industrial estate, and an elevated path at Warspite Road on the Woolwich side – will end years of aggravation for walkers and cyclists who have had to divert onto the unpleasant Woolwich Road when travelling along the Thames.

It also removes one of the few significant blockages of south-east London’s stretch of Thames Path – including an almost-interrupted riverside pathway (save for one or two blocks) through Greenwich borough from Deptford Green to Thamesmead – and makes it easier for people to cycle from riverside parts of Woolwich and Thamesmead to North Greenwich station.

However, signs on the route indicate it will only be available from 6am to 9pm. Signs also eventually indicate it will be added to Quietway 14, a cycling route from Blackfriars Road to Canada Water station.

Although someone may need to change the spelling mistake on the signs before it opens…

While the route will be welcomed by cyclists, last week saw a “die-in” at Woolwich Town Hall protesting after three riders were killed in separate collisions in Greenwich and Deptford, including two on the A206 through Greenwich, one at the notorious Woolwich Road roundabout.

Organisers demanded the reinstatement of the full Cycle Superhighway 4 scheme between London Bridge and Woolwich, which was shortened to run between Tower Bridge and Deptford Creek Bridge by mayor Sadiq Khan.

The Charlton Champion provides news and information about issues and events in London SE7. Help us by telling us your stories – or buy the author a coffee.

Testing times: see the Thames Barrier in action on Sunday 10th September

Thames Barrier Test 2017

Sunday 10th of September will see the annual full test of the Thames Barrier: an opportunity to see the barrier in action, meet the teams who run it, and learn about how it all works. The cafe and information centre will open at 9am; we recommend keeping an eye on the official website for closure timings nearer the date.

There’s a Facebook event for it here, and we recommend following Alan at the Barrier on Twitter, too!

Thames Barrier test 2016
Thames Barrier test closure – September 2016
Photo copyright Neil Clasper

Charlton’s Thames Path set to have its ‘missing link’ plugged

missinglink640

It’s been a very long time in coming, but walkers and cyclists could soon be able to use the Thames Path uninterrupted between Charlton and Woolwich – with plans to build a new path over the riverfront.

Currently, the Thames Path from central London stops dead at the Thames Barrier, with anyone wanting to continue eastwards having to continue via the busy Woolwich Road before walking through the King Henry’s Wharf housing development.

Westminster Industrial Estate

During the week, walkers in the know can sneak through an unsigned shortcut through the Westminster Industrial Estate – but these barriers prevent cyclists from using it.

Plans to plug the gap were first revealed in September, at Greenwich Council’s first “cycling forum”, after negotiations with landowners. Now they’re slowly starting to become reality, with one phase having already received planning permission, and another currently in the planning process.

The TfL-funded scheme is particularly good news for the enormous creative arts hub Second Floor Arts, as the new route will run right past its entrance. Greenwich hopes it will be complete by April 2017.

Heading from east to west… (apologies for the duff photos, which are of a display board at the cycle forum event).

Warspite Road
king_henry500

Phase 1 is currently going through the planning process (see application 15/3519/F), and consists of a ramp from Warspite Road which will then sit on top of the riverfront, taking the route round to the existing Thames Path at King Henry’s Wharf. Or, strictly speaking: “Construction of combined footway / cycleway bridge, a 1.4m high pedestrian parapet with lighting incorporated into the parapet posts, erection of a wooden fender structure in the foreshore area.” Comments on this need to be with the council by 29 December.

unity_way500

Phase 2 already has planning permission (see application 15/2972/F). It consists of a ramp between Unity Way, the street that leads to the Thames Barrier visitor centre, and Bowater Road, inside the Westminster Industrial Estate. This means there’ll still be a diversion away from the river (and the deteriorating Mersey ferry Royal Iris, moored here) but nowhere near as long and inconvenient as the current scheme. Greenwich hopes to start work on this before April.

Greenwich has a newsletter for people interested in cycling infrastructure in the borough – email cycling-strategy[at]royalgreenwich.gov.uk and ask to be put on its list.

(This is a slightly shorter version of a post on 853.)