Teddington beach fenced off and security installed as boat owner says he's "never seen the river this dangerous"

  Posted: 28.07.21 at 14:47 by Ellie Brown

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Barriers and a security guard have been sent to Teddington Lock by the Environmental Agency (EA) following reports that the authority had “lost control” of the area.

Last Friday the EA put up fencing blocking access to the sandy ‘beach’ area in-between the lock footbridges and sent a patrol boat to the Weir.

The move came a day after a local boat company and Kingston marine volunteers condemned the situation at the Lock as extremely dangerous due to the activities of young people there.

Richard Turk, of Turk’s Launches, told Nub News: “I’ve never seen the river this dangerous.

“At Teddington Lock there are children jumping off the footbridge in front of the Weir, kids in the barge lock so boats can’t get through, playing ‘chicken’ with the boats.

“They’re sitting on the rollers, smoking dope. The police are never there.

Routes to Teddington 'beach' have been fenced off by the Environment Agency (Credit: Nub News)

“A child is going to die very soon.”

Speaking on Thursday 22 July, Richard said: “I’m angry, upset and concerned.

“Any accident will crucify us and other companies.”

He criticised the Environment Agency for not enforcing its by-laws which ban swimming in and around a lock channel.

He said the agency need to put up clearer ‘no swimming’ signs and highlighted the dangers of this activity.

A security boat has also been sent to patrol the Weir (Credit: Nub News)

Getting so close to a Weir puts children in danger of being washed over the rollers, he explained.

There is also the risk of being caught in dangers currents near sluice gates at the Lock.

He also emphasised the dangers of children ‘playing chicken’ with the boats, which can’t slam on emergency brakes.

“It takes us about 20 feet to stop and we go in full reverse,” he said.

“There are children of 12 to 13 years old jumping off the bridge.

Turks Launches owner Richard Turk says he's "never seen the river this dangerous" (Credit: Ollie G Monk)

“Yesterday one of the boats very nearly hit them, the skipper was very upset.

‘It’s been this way for at least a couple of weeks, it was bad last summer but now is the worst I’ve seen it.

“I feel sorry for the poor kids with the pandemic going on but I wish they would just swim in a different area of the river.”

Speaking after the installation of the new security measures, on Friday 23 July, Richard said he welcomed the action by the Environment Agency.

But, he said, they need to do more as the danger is not confined simply to the Lock area.

Children have been playing 'chicken' with boats, swimming in the navigation channel and going close to the Weir (Credit: Nub News)

Nick Tudor, who captains one of the boats that Richard’s company runs, said that the childrens’ behaviour was causing him burnout and fatigue.

“It’s every hour of every day,” he said.

“One of the skippers has worked here for 40 years and he’s never seen anything like it. “

Steven Collins, Head of the Kingston Maritime Service unit, tweeted at the time: "Professional boat operators and river users confirm that the Teddington Lock area is out of control, and there is a severe risk of loss of life.

"An anti-social behaviour dispersal order MUST be put in place now."

Young people also continue to jump off Teddington Lock bridge - despite the dangers (Credit: Ollie G Monk)

In response to an enquiry from Nub News made on Thursday 22 July, an Environment Agency spokesperson said: “The Environment Agency have been working closely with our partner organisations since the spring to come up with effective ways of managing the on-going issue of people swimming near Teddington lock, as it is not something that we can solve on our own.

“To support our staff at the site, we have employed security guards.

"Their remit is to ensure that people are not jumping or swimming in the lock and to support our staff in managing the site.

"We have installed additional fencing at the site to try to prevent people from accessing the lock and have put up additional no swimming signs.

“We discourage people from swimming in the locks, and in doing so, educate them about the dangers of swimming and jumping into the Thames.

Richard Turk says young people are spoiling the experiences of his passengers (Credit: Ollie G Monk)

“As an organisation we do not have the legal powers to control or manage large scale gatherings.

"We will continue to work with all responsible parties to manage the ongoing situation at the Teddington riverside”.

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