I HAVEN’T written about the progress on the construction of the new river crossing at Walton for a while and I just wanted to take the opportunity to congratulate the builders and Surrey County Council for the impressive way the building work has gone.
It can’t have been easy – particularly for the main contractors, Costain, who have had to put up with appalling weather conditions – to keep things on track.
They have had to contend with high winds, torrential rain, snow and ice and one of the longest and coldest winters in living memory but somehow, they’ve kept the construction work on schedule and it does now look as though the new Thames Bridge will be opening towards the end of July.
And after all the arguing and changes of heart about the bridge before the work started I have to say that the new bridge looks stunning.
It is a beautifully crafted piece of civil engineering and when the old ‘temporary’ bridges are finally removed it will look absolutely beautiful.
From a navigation viewpoint, it will also make the business of travelling around the bend on a boat much easier – without having blind spots caused by the piers supporting the old bridges.
In short – well done Surrey and Costain.
MY old mate Doug ‘the ancient angler’ Millsom who lives in Weybridge called me this week having read my recent column about the progress of the Chinese mitten crabs up the Thames.
I was asking people to contact me if they’d come across any of these invasive creatures from the Orient on the assumption that they were relatively new arrivals on our stretch of the river – but Doug put me right.
He said: “I was fishing down by Weybridge Ladies’ Rowing Club opposite Shepperton Lock – well it must have been at least five or six years ago. I reeled in my line having had a bite and when it broke surface, I had a fish alright but sitting on top of it was a rather large crab with big claws.”
Doug says he didn’t get too close a look at the creature because it fell off the line onto the bank and scuttled back into the river but from the description he’s pretty sure it was a mitten crab.
So perhaps these things have come farther up the Thames more quickly than anyone suspected.
Anyone else encountered them?
WHILE we were chatting on the phone, Doug reminded me that Derek Belsey, the wonderful birdman of Shepperton, used to cycle along his stretch of the towpath and would often stop to chat with Doug while he was fishing.
Derek, as many of you will remember, used to write a regular bird-watching column for the Herald and News before he was struck down by motor neurone disease.
We agreed that Derek’s boundless enthusiasm for our feathered friends coupled with a generous and friendly nature has been sadly missed since his untimely death.
Gone but not forgotten, Derek – and best wishes to your family.
HAVE you got a river-related story you’d like to share? Contact me by phone on 07760 361106 or email me atmort.smith [at] trinitymirror.com.