As planned I travelled to London today with three friends to watch the boat race. I didn’t take the RIB – too many complications. We watched from the Surrey side just next to Barnes Bridge. A bit drizzly but exciting nether-the-less!
It was what followed that was of most “excitement”:
We were walking back to the car along the river, stopping to film passing boats. As we got to Hammersmith Bridge we noticed a large passenger barge coming towards the bridge. Today was a very high spring tide, so clearance under the bridge must have been about 10 feet. We watched on as the barge attempted to proceed under the bridge! The inevitable happened, and the barge hit the bridge, getting totally jammed. It then swung round so that the bow hit one of the pillars holding the bridge up. The tide was still rising, and the boat started to lean over to one side…
Three or so minutes later the passengers were on deck in lifejackets, and two RNLI “E class” Ribs turned up with blue lights flashing. The 8 passengers were transferred to one of the RIBs and taken away. Over the next few minutes five or so other police/PLA and RNLI RIBs turned up, and attempted to remove the barge from under the bridge. By this time the police had closed the bridge…..
Ten minutes later the boat was still stuck, and having tried to pull the barge out, the boats proceeded to try and ram it out. With probably well over 1500hp of RIB and police launch (5 or 6 boats in all) power, the barge slowly edged it’s way clear of the bridge, accompanied by the sound of bending steel, breaking glass and cheers from the hundreds of people that had stopped to watch. Presumably the barges’ engines must have been in operable as the barge was towed back down river.
With the whole thing on film I gave the BBC a call, hoping to get my footage on the tele! They called me back a few minutes later saying they wanted to do an interview for the radio news! Having got all that out of the way we were driving home, to hear my interview on the leading story on the 5 o’clock news!
A very exciting day out! (Lots of pics to follow when I download them from my camera).