4 April 2022
By Göran R Buckhorn
This is an opinion piece by Göran R Buckhorn.
The Boat Races are over for this year. It was great to have the races back on the River Thames. We saw four of the best Oxbridge crews ever to compete on the Thames. It was marvellous.
It has been worrisome times. If it wasn’t the pandemic putting a stop to rowing on the river, it was the Port of London Authority’s ban on rowing under Hammersmith Bridge during the period of August 2020 through April 2021. There were concerns that the old bridge would collapse.
Now there is another looming threat on the horizon. Fulham Football Club wants to build a pier that will extend some 80 metres into the Thames. On its website the football club writes that
Inspired by the historic Thames riverside, natural materials are being considered for the construction of the pier that improve with age and weathering. The design is also looking to integrate trees and landscaping to deliver ecological and wider environmental benefits and create an appropriate green natural ‘edge’ to the Riverside Stand development and its interaction with the river.
No, I do not think that building a pier of this size is environment friendly, and it is dangerous and will disrupt rowing, canoeing and other water sport activities on the river. A petition against the project, put out by Jan Hutchings, reads “This stretch of water is an important sporting and recreation venue for schools, children and adults who want to learn about and enjoy the river. These groups have the right to use the river and to do so safely.”
The main reason Fulham FC would like to build this gigantic pier is to ferry supporters from the riverside to the matches at the stadium. This is ludicrous. Commercial activities on the river should not intrude upon the recreational activities on the river.
One of the persons protesting against the pier project is Fleur Anderson, Labour MP for Putney, who told parliament”: The future of Putney Boat Race on the Thames and all sport, and all the river clubs on Putney Embankment, are being put at risk by a proposal by Fulham FC to build an 80 metre pier out into the river which will have a stop,” according to the tabloid The Sun (a source HTBS rarely uses). Anderson continued: “If it runs, it will make sport rowing and sailing too dangerous on the river. Especially for all the young people who use it.
“There are about 4,000 members across 41 clubs along the river who will be impacted, as well as 30,000 participants in rowing races in the first quarter of the year. There are approximately 1,400 children from clubs and rowing centres near FFC on that part of the river who use it several times a week.
“I hope that Fulham will see this, listen to the clubs and stop these plans to build this dangerous, huge pier,” Anderson said.
When writing this (Monday late afternoon 4 April 2022), 8,599 people had signed the petition to stop the building of the pier. If you would like to also sign the petition, go here.