The Thames Barrier
London SE18 5NJ
TfL Fare Zone 3/4Visitors interested in seeing something unusual and quite spectacular, should take a trip to The Thames Barrier.
There is no better way to approach this engineering marvel than by boat. A number of fast sightseeing river boats incorporate The Thames Barrier in their Thames River Experience. This is a great family day out.
The Thames Barrier is a flood mitigation device, the second largest in the world. It consists of a number of gates which can be raised to prevent a storm surge passing up the River Thames and flooding London.
Ten Separate Gates
The Barrier consists of ten separate moveable gates positioned end-to-end across the river. Each gate is pivoted and supported between concrete piers that house the operating equipment. The piers’ foundations are sunk fifty feet (15.24 metres) below the river in solid chalk. When not in use, the six rising gates rest out of sight in recessed curved concrete sills in the river bed, allowing free passage of ships up the river.
The structure is 1,706 feet (520 metres) across from bank to bank with four main openings, each 200 feet) (61 metres) across. The four main gates are huge, over 65.6 feet (20 metres) high. They are of a hollow steel construction and with counterweights, weigh about 4,078.55 tons (3,700 tonnes). The two other navigational openings are smaller, only 101.71 feet (31metres) wide. The remaining four openings have falling radial gates with non-navigable openings adjacent to the river banks.
The gates are closed if a tidal surge threatens. This is done by raising the gates from their riverbed position up through 90 degrees and the four radial gates are brought down to the closed defence position. The gates form a continuous steel wall facing down river to block the surging tide.
Visitor Information Centre
1 Unity Way Woolwich
Well worth the nominal cost of admission. There is a working model of the Barrier and a film showing how it was constructed. The film also shows the barrier operating and how it protects London from flooding.
There are also colourful displays of the wildlife and environment of the River Thames. There is a café with very reasonably priced food and spectacular views of the Barrier. Outside in the gardens are picnic facilities and a play area.
Opening dates & Admission Charges
Summer (20 July - 6 September): Open 7 days a week.
Thursday – Sunday: 10:30 – 17:00 hours (last admission is at 16:30 hours)
Sandwiches, cakes, drinks, confectionery and ice creams are available over the counter in the cafe Monday to Wednesday, with a full menu (including hot food) available Thursday to Sunday.
Also at this web address is information on parking (Pay & Display) and instructions on 'Getting There' plus a detailed map and Public Transport Information leaflet.
The Visitor Centre is Accessible.
Carers accompanying disabled visitors are admitted free of charge.
Contact & Further Information
+44 (0) 2083 054 188
TfL Fare Zone 2/3/4 Transport for London Journey Planner
To plan your journey, use the Transport for London 'Journey Planner'.
- By Underground TfL Fare Zone 3
North Greenwich Station Jubilee Line
The Thames Barrier is about 40 minutes walk from North Greenwich station (at the O2). Follow the signs or catch bus 172 or 161
- By British Rail
Woolwich Dockyard Station TfL Fare Zone 3
Turn right out of Woolwich Dockyard station into Frances Street, continue to Woolwich Church Street (A206) and turn left. At the roundabout take the left exit on to Woolwich Road. Continue walking on the left-hand side of the road and cross at the pedestrian lights and continue walking left until Eastmoor Street. Turn down Eastmoor Street towards the Thames River and the Information Centre.
Woolwich Arsenal Station TfL Fare Zone 4
A one mile easy walk from the Visitor Centre & Thames Barrier.
- By Docklands Light Railway Tfl Fare Zone 4
Woolwich Arsenal Station
Book a taxi on +44 (0)8445 560 706
Book a taxi on +44 (0)8445 560 706
- By River
A number of sightseeing river boats incorporate The Thames Barrier in their Thames River experience. Some are:
These boats may not be suitable for the disabled. We suggest that visitors contact the chosen boat for information.
- By Bus
Route Numbers 161, 177, 180 and 472 and N1. Buses travel along Woolwich Road.
We suggest that visitors use the Transport for London Journey Planner on this page
- By Walking
The Thames Path runs between Greenwich and the Thames Barrier.
Google Maps - Thames Barrier