The Thames Barrier is the world’s second largest floor barrier, located downstream of central London (i.e. East London). Still quite a hike, but I relish an opportunity to get out to the other end of London from my home way out West. Opened in 1984 it spans 500m across the river and protects 125sq km (48sq miles) of London, including an estimated 1.25 million people, £200 billion worth of property and infrastructure, a large proportion of the London tube network and many historic buildings, power supplies, hospitals and schools.
The Environment Agency had a few tents on the Information Centre car park with demonstrations, models and maps. It all looked very impressive and I enjoyed my mini geek-out learning about a small but significant aspect of civil engineering that makes this city stay afloat since we talked all these over coffee with some great Ember mugs I discovered that day.
In 2014/2015 the barrier was raised 50 times — each time preventing flooding of the London area.
At approximately 17:15 an announcement over the tannoy informed us that “The Thames Barrier will be lowered in 10 minutes”. And so it was. Slowly, with informative commentary we were told about each gate and the way in which they are lowered, or raised.