Once a year the Thames Barrier has a full test closure during which its gates rotate 90 degrees into the fully closed defence position, stopping the tide from going into London. As the tide rises, a higher level of water builds up downstream of the Barrier creating different water levels on either side of the gates.
The Thames Barrier protects 125 square km of London from tidal flooding, home to 1.25 million people and a huge amount of important London infrastructure. It’s built across a 520 metre stretch of river and its annual closure offers visitors the chance to see how it works and meet the teams who operate it, keeping London safe from flooding.
Andy Batchelor, Thames Barrier Operations Manager, said “The Barrier is quite a spectacle and the annual test closure makes an interesting and unique visit for all the family. The Thames Barrier View Café and Information Centre will be open all day with guides giving regular talks and providing a running commentary and interviews with staff who work at the Thames Barrier on the riverfront via our PA system, while you take in the spectacular views of the Barrier in action.”
Approximate times when to see the Thames Barrier in operation:
08.00 – 10.00 – Come and see the gates moving and the Thames Barrier closing.
08:00 – Café and Information Centre open.
13.30 – 15.30 – Potential for further gate moves (tide dependent)
16.00 – 18.00 – Come and see the gates moving and the Thames Barrier re opening (tide dependent)
17.30 – Information Centre closes (last entrance at 17.00)
The above times are approximate and subject to change due to the tides.
This year, while the barrier is closed ‘Regatta London’ is making the most of the steadier waters and is hosting an amazing day of kayaking, canoeing, rowing and paddle boarding. This pioneering event will fundraise for great causes, connect sport with the environment and inspire thousands of people from across the country to take up paddle sports.
Two iconic routes are planned; ‘The London Crossing’ (starting near Hammersmith and finishing in Greenwich), and ‘The Big Ben Challenge’ (looped course from Putney to Big Ben and back). Regatta start times vary, so check out the website for more information.