Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Oh no, not again...

HENLEY Bridge has been damaged again after being hit by a boat for the third time in six years.

HENLEY Bridge has been damaged again after being hit by a boat for the third time in six years.

The latest accident happened on Sunday afternoon and involved a 65ft Dutch barge called Skylark Song that was travelling downstream.

The skipper was attempting to negotiate the central arch when he struck the historic bridge, sending masonry crashing on to the roof of the barge’s cabin.

David Feary, of Walton Avenue, was walking by at about 2.30pm when he witnessed the accident.

He said: “There was this great big bang. I thought it was a lorry which had collided with another vehicle on the bridge.

“I was by Singers Wharf and I turned around expecting to see something happening on the bridge and I could see this boat reversing. It was a very long barge with a cabin at the back. There was a man and a boy on the boat at the time. It had actually gone through the main arch and the front of the cabin collided with the side of the arch. One of the blocks fell on to the boat.

“My first reaction was ‘oh no, not again’. It took two years to repair the same arch last time.” The vessel was moored at Singers Park, next to the Angel on the Bridge pub, after the accident.

Mr Feary said: “He pulled up, tied up and he wasn’t doing anything in a hurry. It had taken the corner of the cabin off and the masonry was sitting on top of the boat. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon so this was certainly a jar to the atmosphere.” The Skylark Song was built by Piper Boats, of Stoke-on-Trent, and is understood to be only weeks old.

Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, is to investigate.

A spokesman said: “We’re going to have someone down there to assess what happened, the extent of the damage and if any work is required.”

In June 2012 another barge slammed into the bridge, damaging the stonework, and became stuck for 30 minutes.

The Tartuga was travelling downstream when the skipper misjudged his approach to the bridge and hit it sideways on. The barge became wedged under the middle span.

A crowd of customers on the terrace at the Angel on the Bridge watched as the owner made several failed attempts to free the boat. Council workmen installed safety barriers on the bridge as various attempts were made to pull the barge free using ropes.

Eventually a tug from Cook Piling, the Maidenhead company that builds the royal regatta course, came to the rescue.

A rope was attached to the stern and the Tartuga was hauled back upstream to a standing ovation from the customers at the pub.

In August 2010, the cruiser Crazy Love crashed into the same arch, causing stonework to crash on to the boat and into the river.

The boat’s owner, Peter Berwick, from Wootton-under-Edge, was cut and needed hospital treatment.

The following year, Oxfordshire County Council carried out repairs costing £200,000.

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