Boat Race returns to the Thames – watch from parks as bridge works underway

The annual Oxford v Cambridge boat races return to the River Thames on Sunday 3 April.

There are great local viewpoints to watch the race, with both Furnivall Gardens in Hammersmith and Bishops Park in Fulham offering great views, as well as the river walks.

The women’s race will start at 2:23pm.

The men’s race will start at 3:23pm.

For more details, visit the Boat Race website.

Hammersmith Bridge will be closed as safety experts have instructed H&F Council to close the bridge to pedestrians, cyclists and e-scooters between 10am and 5pm on the day.

The decision was taken on the expert advice of the Board for the Case for the Continued Safe Operation of Hammersmith Bridge (CCSO).

The CCSO noted that the bridge was not safe for large crowds of onlookers as the £8.9million stabilisation works are underway and the carriageway is being used as construction area. This is due to fears of spectator overcrowding on the bridge’s narrow walkways.

Notices confirming the closures will be put in place on both north and south sides of the bridge, and safety marshals will be on duty.

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Image caption: Image 2: The Women's Boat Race. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES

Works underway

The 135-year-old Grade II*-listed bridge was closed to motor vehicles in April 2019 and then to pedestrians and cyclists in August 2020 after cracks were discovered in the cast iron pedestals.

Following a series of investigations and pioneering safety measures, including the introduction of a temperature control monitoring system, the bridge was re-opened under strict conditions to pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic last July.

The £8.9m Phase One Stabilisation works have seen the introduction of new rules, including closing the main carriageway to allow cranes to work and getting cyclists and e-scooters to dismount. A one-way system has also been introduced.

H&F Council has approved the £8.9m investment in full, rather than wait for the Department for Transport (DfT) and Transport for London (TfL) to pay their share. On 22 March, the government confirmed that it will pay its one-third share of the Phase 1 £8.9million stabilisation works. TfL is also expected to confirm its contribution.

Next phase of works coming

While the stabilisation works are taking place, H&F has approved a further £3.5m series of studies which will lead to the development of the full strengthening and restoration programme for the 135-year-old Grade II* listed bridge.

The capital spend was agreed on Monday 7 March and includes essential concept design work on an alternative proposal developed by world-leading architects and engineers Foster + Partners, and bridge engineers COWI.

This project could see a temporary double-decker crossing installed using the existing bridge foundations and see the bridge opening to motor vehicles and buses earlier than the existing plan.

Other necessary work being carried out involves geotechnical studies, crowd loading assessments and traffic modelling. Again H&F is providing the funding upfront, to expedite the full re-opening of the bridge to motor vehicles, rather than wait for the DfT and TfL to agree their shares.

To keep up-to-date with the progress to restore and repair Hammersmith Bridge visit our Hammersmith Bridge page.

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