Amazing montage shows gridlock on the River Thames
Daily Mail: 15th Sept 06
This extraordinary picture shows just how busy the Thames has become.
The montage of all the boats which passed between Tower Bridge and London Bridge in a single hour also shows the many different types of river traffic - looks like the Thames Watermens Branch of RMT have loads of recruiting opportunities!
Among the 56 vessels pictured are speedboats, fishing boats, lifeboats, container barges and a range of tourist cruisers as well as HMS Belfast, which is permanently moored.
The image was taken by photographer Alisdair MacDonald, who set up his camera on London Bridge between midday and one o'clock and photographed every vessel that passed in the hour.
He then created this composite image.
It reflects the huge growth in river traffic and the number of passengers - a rise of 44 per cent since 1999 to 2.3 million a year.
The increase in the number of commuters has been even more marked, with a leap of 80 per cent in the past year alone.
Freight on the Thames has risen from 50 tonnes in 2000 to 56 tonnes last year, an increase of 11 per cent.
The river will be at its busiest this weekend when about 500,000 visitors will flock to the South Bank for the 10th annual Thames Festival.
The south side of the river from Westminster Bridge to Tower Bridge will come alive with street performers, musicians, artists and a series of outdoor ballrooms.
The event will culminate in a huge carnival on Sunday evening when 2,000 performers will put on a show with lanterns and illuminated costumes before a massive display of fireworks let off from barges on the river.
A spokesman for the Port of London Authority said: "We are seeing big increases in use of the river.
"The rise is down to all sorts of factors but the investment made in bringing piers up to date and by companies buying more modern vessels has been very important in attracting new business to the river.
"Similarly, it is becoming clearer that the Thames represents a very convenient way of transporting cargo in and out of the capital without having to deal with road congestion.
"The Thames today is a busy working river."
The Thames Festival will take place on the open spaces between Westminster Bridge and Tower Bridge.
Launched in 1997 with a high-wire walk across the Thames, it has grown to become one of the capital's largest free festivals with more than 470,000 attending last year.