Saturday, 28 March 2015

How a Thames flood was averted in 1992

1992 Flood Disaster only averted by quick action 

Boveney Lock Keeper
Dave Gibson
It was a little after 4 pm on December 7th 1992 when Boveney Lock Keeper Dave Gibson heard a sharp crack as the mooring chains of the 150 ton hotel barge 'ACTIEF', tied up in the weir stream, snapped. The river was high and fast as the great 90 foot boat became swept along in the 6 - 8 knot stream sweeping towards Windsor.

David phoned through the impending danger before cycling along the tow-path to overtake the 'ACTIEF'. This necessitated cycling through the partially flooded bank at 'Athens' before he joined the college boatyard met Paul Cutler, Peter Stevens and John Cork (head). They quickly boarded their motorized punt and hurried upstream to intercept the on-coming boat.

Fortunately for local residents the 'ACTIEF' was stopped just upstream of the 'Queens' Relief Road Bridge when Dave Gibson and John Cork jumped onto the runaway vessel and cast the fore and aft anchors. Meanwhile the river district inspector, Phil Green had contacted the French Brothers Windsor Steamer Co. and together with a team from Bray Steamers also gave chase and assistance.

Had the 'ACTIEF', which in fact can only just get into Boveney Lock, struck ei-ther the Queens' or Windsor Bridge the possible damage and consequent rapid flooding would have been a major local disaster. In 1993 lock keeper Dave Gibson and boatyard head John Cork were awarded the Ross-McWhirter Memorial Award for their resourcefulness and Bravery at a Dinner given at the Middle-Temple Hall, London.

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