The Thames Barrier, owned and operated by the Environment Agency closes each month as a test to ensure that it is functioning properly, but once a year, a full test closure is performed over a high tide. The gates remain closed for several hours, to conduct several technical checks. Fortunately for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee River pageant this year the additional restrictions on normal river traffic (between 8am and midnight) resulting from the event and its preparations provides Thames Barrier staff a unique opportunity to test the current engineering design in practice, without any additional disruption to river users. The closure of the Barrier acts to cut the river’s tidal flow from 4-5 knots to less than a knot, making navigation simpler.
This should make it easier for the river pageant to go down the Thames tomorrow as the current and the wash will be alot less then usual but it appears the traditional rain we get over bank holidays will be putting a dampen on how things progress tomorrow.