MY heart goes out to the families and friends of those who died when a small boat carrying six people overturned close to Pharoah’s Island at Shepperton.
It seems almost unbelievable that two men died when they were thrown into the river so close to land – and at a time when the Thames was far more placid than it sometimes is at this time of the year, albeit extremely cold.
And these were not youngsters larking about – they were mature adults, some of who lived on the island, and for whom a trek across the river was a part of their everyday lives. They knew the Thames and understood it – but still two people died.
I was also surprised that, having recovered one body from the water, the emergency services called off the search so quickly for the second man who drowned. I feel for his family who cannot begin to come to terms with what has happened without having his body pulled from the water.
It just goes to underline the fact that you can never underestimate the danger of the river – even in its most tranquil moods. As I write this, the cause of the tragedy has not been clearly established – although one theory that has emerged is that the boat hit a submerged log. But whatever caused it, all those who love the river will be saddened that it has claimed two innocent lives.
THE bridge is finally going to be built! The government has announced approval for construction work to begin on a new bridge across the Thames at Walton.
After so many false starts, arguments and rearguard actions by those opposed to the new structure, I, for one, am delighted that we shall shortly be able to lose the monstrous eyesore that is the existing Walton Bridge (and, indeed, its predecessor).
I’m sure I’m not alone in having sat in interminable traffic jams caused by the current crossing and road layout and I’m hopeful that the new bridge and its associated feeder roads will see an end to all that. (And to think some people call me a pessimist!)
However, while applauding the fact that all the prevarication is coming to an end, I should like to spare a thought for one business that is going to be put through hell while the construction works take place – Bridge Marine in Thames Meadow.
Jenny Beagle’s boat yard and chandlery sits within feet of the site of the new bridge – which will be built upstream of the existing crossing. And that means they will have to put up with heavy plant hammering away right outside their front door and, when the bridge is complete, heavy traffic thundering past almost overhead.
I know Jenny and her crew will simply get on with their business and make the best of things – but imagine if someone was building a bridge right outside your premises how you would react.
I don’t envy them.