PortCities London

Freak weather and the port

The Thames Barrier

A city under threat

Although London had escaped disaster in 1953, the floods had shown just how vulnerable the city could be.

Had the tidal surge reached central London, the outcome could have been horrendous. Over a million people would have been in danger. The likely damage to London's infrastructure - water and sewage systems, and power, gas and phone lines - would have disrupted life in the capital for months and cost a fortune to repair.

A barrier proposed

After the floods, an enquiry was set up to work out ways of protecting London in the future. As the old system of embankments was clearly no longer adequate, the enquiry recommended the construction of a flood barrier across the Thames.

Earlier in the century, proposals for a flood barrier included a dam across the Thames in Gravesend and a dam in Woolwich. This would have carried a road across the river.

An Early Proposal for the Thames Barrier.
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