July is the heart of summer, so why not join us on a very summery day out? Two events only rarely available to the general public have been combined for the ANS:
The first is the rare chance to get off the Thames Services groups excursion boat at the Thames Barrier pier; only once a day, on 9 weekends a year, does a boat stop there to let passengers off. The Barrier is an astonishing construction, and best appreciated from a boat; and there is so much to see along the river, including pubs frequented by Samuel Pepys and Oscar Wilde, squeezed between new buildings rising up at an astonishing rate.
The second is a talk exclusively for the ANS at the newly renovated Information Centre, about the Barrier, the history of the Thames, the risk of flooding in London, and the environment and wild life of the river. The exhibition has been updated, and the cafe and terrace have been enlarged, and there is more space for group talks, and of course it offers a unique view of the Barrier (which, unfortunately, no-one is allowed onto).
Did you know that the Barrier was built by a consortium including a Dutch construction firm (BAM)? Or that it was only expected to be used 2 or 3 times a year, but it is already averaging 6 to 7? In the wet winter of 2013/14 alone it was opened and closed 50 times, thereby preventing London from both fluvial and tidal flooding – maybe you own a house which was saved from flooding by the barrier! This and many other interesting facts will be touched upon in the talk.
Our boat will depart from Westminster Pier around 10.30, and arrive at the Information Centre around 12. You can either have lunch in the cafe, which will offer a simple menu, or bring your own lunch which can be eaten on the picnic tables outside or the grass banks of the Thames. If you would like to eat in the cafe, it is advisable to book your choice ahead of arrival. If you indicate this on your form, a menu will be forwarded to you as soon as it is available so you can be certain your choice is in stock.
Apart from the talk, there is plenty of time to look at the Barrier, and have a wander through the Barrier Park behind the centre. Our boat will come and pick us up again at 3pm. On the way back it will stop at Greenwich and St Katherine’s Dock, for those who fancy adding some more interest to the trip. We should be back in Westminster by about 4.30. The commentary on board is not intrusive, but will keep you interested all the way.