An advisory notice has been issued by the Port of London authority that they will be carrying out a survey of the river next week – looking for unexploded bombs!

I’m sure it is just a routine event and left-over bombs from World War Two are still turning up during building work, such as in Bromley by Bow in 2008, or when concerns about possible left over bombs stopped work on the Hungerford Bridge pedestrian upgrades in 2000.

According to the Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA), from 2006 to 2009, over 15,000 items of ordnance were found in construction sites in the UK, although only about 5% were still active munitions.

Although routine (?), I’ll probably spend a few days next week in a mixture of hoping nothing is found vs childishly hoping something is found and it goes BOOM. Obviously I exaggerate, as a boat towing a sonar wont actually trigger an old bomb – or will it?

I can see the first venue (Convoys Wharf) to be checked out from my living room, so will keep an ear out for explosions.

Unexploded bombs in the river bed are not the only dangers in the Thames. The SS Richard Montgomery sunk in the Thames Estuary in 1944 with 1,500 tons of explosives on board and is now so fragile that they worry that trying to remove the explosives in its hull could trigger a huge explosion, equivalent to an earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale. Better to leave it well alone.

For the record, the official notice reads:

On or about Tuesday 25th May for 2 days, the work boat ‘GENESIS’ will be towing a gradiometer and side-scan sonar, some 15 – 20 metres astern in order to survey for unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the following areas:

  • Convoys Wharf/vicinity Ahoy Boating Centre,
  • Free Trade Wharf/vicinity Rotherhithe Tunnel,
  • Blackfriars Bridge and
  • Battersea Power Station

A chase boat will not be present.

Updated 15th June – there will be another survey on or about Friday 18th June in the same locations – although not at Battersea this time.


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