ENTERTAINMENT

Plan to temporarily reopen Hammersmith Bridge as a double-decker crossing


The world famous boat race will be removed from the Thames for the second time in its 165 year history due to safety concerns over Hammersmith Bridge.

Health and safety officials banned all river traffic under the 133-year-old suspension bridge in August after inspectors discovered cracks in the structure.

The closure forced Oxford v Cambridge boat race officials to check out new locations outside the Thames for the 2021 event.

A three-mile stretch of the River Great Ouse between Ely and Littleport in Cambridgeshire was announced today as the venue for next year.

Both races, the women's and men's races, take place on the river in April.

Cambridge University Boat Club (CUBC), which has trained on the River Ouse for decades and opened a new £ 5 million boathouse in Ely in 2016, welcomed the move today.

The Oxford University Boat Club (OUBC) has also welcomed the announcement and, according to the Telegraph, the team is "particularly excited about turning Cambridge around on its home waters".

The move is also said to have allayed fears from officials in Covid. The Thames event traditionally drew thousands of spectators along the banks and on the bridges along the route.

The organizers say the event will continue to air on the BBC.

The move is also said to have allayed fears from officials in Covid. The Thames event traditionally drew thousands of spectators along the banks and on the bridges along the route

Health and safety officials banned all river traffic under the 133-year-old suspension bridge (pictured) in August after inspectors discovered cracks in the structure

Health and safety officials banned all river traffic under the 133-year-old suspension bridge (pictured) in August after inspectors discovered cracks in the structure

The traditional boat racing circuit begins at Putney Bridge and winds along the Thames under Hammersmith Bridge to Chiswick Bridge

The traditional boat racing circuit begins at Putney Bridge and winds along the Thames under Hammersmith Bridge to Chiswick Bridge

A map showing the revised three mile course on the River Great Ouse in Cambridgeshire

A map showing the revised three mile course on the River Great Ouse in Cambridgeshire

In a statement, Dr. George Gilbert, Chairman of the Race and Operations Committee of Boat Race Company Ltd (BCRL): “Everyone is facing major challenges right now, especially students across the country.

& # 39; The safe and responsible organization of sport is our top priority. Relocating the boat race to Ely in 2021 will allow the event to be held in a safe environment.

& # 39; While we are sad not to have the usual hundreds of thousands of viewers on the course, we will invite our communities and a wider audience to get involved through our social media channels and watch the historic event on the BBC enjoy. & # 39;

Simon Harris, CUBC's Rowing and Board Chairman, said, “We look forward to welcoming the Oxford University boating clubs to our new boathouse to prepare and race for the 2021 Ely Boating.

& # 39; Our student athletes have continued to train hard and strive to achieve their own personal goals under incredibly difficult circumstances.

“Living in a small room with a computer and a rowing machine for society is very different from the student life I remember.

"Having decided to race at Ely, we can now focus on giving our boating clubs the opportunity to renew our rivalry and race in April."

In an email to the Telegraph, Seb Pearce, chairman of the Oxford University Boat Club said: “After exploring a number of alternative locations, we have decided to hold the race in Ely next year and now have the full support of the BBC and local authorities.

& # 39; Our priority is to make sure there is a race and we believe that this place gives us the best chance of having a race on TV in an environment that is suitable for the athletes and those for the conduct of the race is required is safe.

"Covid continues to cause significant disruption to ranks, but the athletes have trained hard to prepare for the race and they are especially looking forward to turning Cambridge around on their home water."

The first boat race between Oxford and Cambridge took place in 1829 when the University of Cambridge challenged Oxford University to a race.

The race was held at Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire – and Oxford won.

A second race took place in London in 1836, which was won by Cambridge. However, disputes over where the race should take place continued.

The race eventually took place in London and has been held annually since 1856, except this year due to the Covid pandemic and for the years 1915-1919 due to World War I and during most of World War II.

However, the boat race took place on the Ouse in 1944, the only time outside of London in its uninterrupted history, as there were fears that the V1 flying bombs would be dropped on London.

Surprisingly, it was Oxford that won the race by three-quarter length.

Hammersmith Bridge has traditionally marked around the end of the first third of the boat race and is considered a key element.

The crew crossing the bridge at the head wins the boat race four out of five times.

However, the 1887 structure was completely closed to traffic in April of last year and later after cracks were discovered in the cast iron plinths. It was closed to the river traffic below in August.

Hammersmith Bridge in West London, which closed to pedestrians and cyclists without warning after security inspectors discovered that cracks in the 133-year-old structure had deteriorated

Hammersmith Bridge in West London, which closed to pedestrians and cyclists without warning after security inspectors discovered that cracks in the 133-year-old structure had deteriorated

Revealed: A computer-generated map of the proposed temporary Hammersmith Bridge alongside the original, which is not due to return to normal until 2027 when it is repaired

Revealed: A computer-generated map of the proposed temporary Hammersmith Bridge alongside the original, which is not due to return to normal until 2027 when it is repaired

It is estimated that the repair will cost £ 141 million and will be closed for six years – although it only took the Victorians half that time to build.

Last month, project leader, Dana Skelley, predicted that it would take four months to assess the condition of the structure's bases, seven months to do emergency stabilization work at a cost of £ 13.9 million, and 21 months to get one Value of £ 32 million to achieve permanent stabilization work.

The final phase of repairs will take 30 months and include reinforcement of the bridge to allow vehicles valued at £ 80 million to drive back.

But Hammersmith and Fulham Councilor Sue Fennimore said funding requests sent to Transport for London (TfL), the Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing, Community and Local Government for Hammersmith Bridge have been denied or received no response.

Baroness Vere told the task force, “The impact on South West London is not something the government wants to be responsible for. We all have to commit to see this project through to the end.

"At this point, and I think you will agree that given the six and a half year timeframe, there should be several options on the table as we determine what the long-term project looks like."

It was also mentioned that the ferry service that allows passengers to cross the Thames will be up and running until spring due to a lengthy procurement process and delays.

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