River gated off due to “dangerous” potholes on North Woolwich slipway

Gate barring the slipway

Gate barring the slipway - Credit: Archant

River enthusiasts have found themselves landlocked after health and safety bosses blocked off a 160-year-old slipway down to the Thames.

The Old Bargehouse Drawdock and Causeway, on Bargehouse Road, North Woolwich, was once used by watermen who ran a ferry to Woolwich which was the only way across the river until the railway ferry came along in 1847.

There are still a number of drawdocks lining the tidal banks and most are freely accessible to the public and river professionals.

But now the summer weather is here, Laurence Godfrey, who travels down from Watford to take his 12ft long boat on to the water, has found the Bargehouse Road slipway blocked by a metal gate.

Laurence made some enquiries and he found The Crown Estate, which owns the land but did not build the slipway, stopped public access last September because of “dangerous” potholes.

But there seems to be no solution in sight as The Crown Estate, Newham Council, and the Port of London Authority all deny responsibility for the ramp.

Laurence said: “This issue should be resolved by now. I simply cannot believe that whoever is responsible has been preventing access to a public slipway for all this time because no one wants to dip their hand in their pocket for £380, which is a drop in the ocean when you think about it.”

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A Newham Council spokesperson said they believe the land is owned by The Crown Estate so it is not the local authority’s responsibility.

A spokesman for The Crown Estate said: “We have been advised that the slipway in question, which although sitting on Crown Estate land was not constructed by The Crown Estate, was in a dangerous condition and risk to users.

“We have not been able to find anyone responsible for the structure and so took the decision to block access to the slipway for safety reasons.

“The Crown Estate is trying to find out who is responsible for the structure and is working with the Port of London Authority to try to ensure it is repaired and maintained thereafter in a safe condition so it can be subsequently reopened.”