As it’s half term I wanted to share a fun day out we had recently in London. We went right across London to see the Thames Barrier on one of its monthly testing days.
Exploring the Thames Barrier
The Thames Barrier has been on our London bucket list for years. Earlier this year we saw that it was going to be raised for annual testing, so decided to go along. We went on public transport, getting the tube to North Greenwich and then a bus to Woolwich, from where it was a short walk to the Thames.
As we approached the Thames we could hear a loud audio describing what was happening to the barrier. It is one of the largest movable flood barriers in the world, spanning 520 metres across the river Thames. The guide gave information on how the barrier worked and it was really interesting to listen to as we watched the steel gates close one by one.
The Barrier is operated once a month for maintenance and test purposes and you can find details of the next planned closures published by the Environment Agency.
There are 10 steel gates that can be raised into position across the River Thames.
The barrier is closed under storm surge conditions to protect London from flooding from the sea.
Did you know that the Thames Barrier has been closed 208 times since it became operational in 1982?
We watched the gates closing for a while before heading over to the small visitor centre. The Thames Barrier Information Centre is open to the public every Saturday from 1st April 2023 to 28th October 2023 from 10:30 to 15:30hrs. Inside is a small exhibition about the history of the Thames Barrier as well as a large model of one of the gates.
Our visit was fun and educational too. It was really strange watching the gates close on a warm and sunny day. They close (and open) quite slowly and prevent traffic from moving along the Thames. Definitely worth a visit, especially if you combine it with a trip to Greenwich or the O2.