Forum Topic

River access to FFC

A lot of heated and emotional talk has gone on regarding the possibility of a passenger pier being added to the football stand development. The first issue is one of nature. The river on this reach rises and falls by about 6m and, due to the bend in the river, the foreshore in front of the new stand is exposed at the bottom of the tide. At spring low tides one will need to be in excess of 70m from the new stand to reach a depth of water of 1.5m. This does provide an opportunity to install a brow (ramp) that would be DDA compliant with a gradient of 1:12.  This would be a significant improvement on the accessibility of the existing Putney Pier. However I am sure that the owners of the vessels who might want to use the pier would think twice about mooring in a spot where they might run aground. The only way of reducing the distance out into the river would be to have the brow at an angle to the bank and to undertake significant and regular dredging operations.  This is might not be impossible but it would require detailed and lengthy hydrological modelling to see what the effects of such changes to the river bed might be.  One only has to go up to Hammersmith bridge at low tide to see the knock on effect and un-intended consequences of altering the river bank. The St Pauls School slipway, installed in the 1960's has led to a build up of silt on either side of it.  During the construction of the new stand, there have been barges and working platforms in the river. At low tide most of these sat on the foreshore. As part of the works it was considered necessary to employ the services of a guard boat. This was to provide safety cover for both river users and those working on the barges. The scheme might be acceptable to some of the traditional river users if the club offered to provide 24 — 7 safety cover.  Mention is made of the effects on the boat race, which only has two crews. Three weeks ago in the school's head of the river, there was one stage in the race where, due to differing speeds, five crews ended up side by side as they passed the football club. A obstruction such as pier extending out from the bank would form a significant hazard  and a risk  assessment could come to the conclusion that the head races could not safely take place.  A sailing boat, when travelling with the wind, can go in a straight line. However to progress against the wind they must tack. this will be restricted by any pier. Assuming that a pier was installed, there is then the issue of the river traffic. Rowing takes place from well before first light to well after sunset. Those who watched the BBC coverage of the Boat Race will have noted the hours that the athletes put into their training. Many Club athletes try to put in similar hours of training whilst holding down full time professional jobs. Training in the dark is a necessity and currently, with the River busses termination at Putney Pier there is no conflict. The oarsmen do not train below Putney whist the commercial vessels are operating.  At weekends, there are no services above Battersea and consequently, at the bottom of the tide rowing does take place below Putney.  Many of the recreational rowers confine their practice times to the very time when football matches might take place, a Saturday afternoon. The swell set up by the Uber boats when they slow down and speed up is enough to damage an eight and tip a single sculler into the river.

Richard Philips ● 742d3 Comments