Cat no. 767

Thames Tidal Defences

Running time21:35 Colour Sound 1983 Essex

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The opening of the Benfleet Barrier across the River Thames in 1983


DocumentaryIndustrial / Sponsored Film

The film opens with shots of the Thames at Tower Bridge in London and further along the Thames Estuary. It shows one of the Thames tourist cruisers in London, sailing boats and moored sailing barges along the Estuary. Tankers are filmed at the port of Tilbury. These shots show the contrast between the industrial and rural landscape of the Thames. The canons at Tilbury are shown.

Rough seas and overturned boats at Leigh-on-Sea followed by a map that shows the potential consequences of a strong north wind combined with a high tide. Water surging over the sea defences introduces and black and white photo sequence showing the effects of the 1953 floods at Canvey Island. This sequence includes stills of newspaper stories at the time. A chart shows the surge tides at Southend-on-Sea since 1850 and how these are rising.

There are shots of London around the Houses of Parliament to introduce a sequence on the flood risk to the capital. There are shots of the Thames Barrier at Woolwich. The principle is explained and the barrier is shown in operation. A map shows the construction work needed from Purfleet to Southend. We see the concrete defences between Purfleet, with its oil refineries, improved in 1953, prior to work starting in 1975. Oil and gas pipelines and work under construction. At Canvey, a model of the defences, work in progress, and diagram and then the finished product. There are shots of roads and housing estates in the town, people on the beach and the Lobster Smack public house. Caravan parks and the oil refineries behind them. A chart shows the position of the navigable barrier at Benfleet. Construction work is shown. The barrier is tested and then officially opened by the Rt. Hon. John Wakeham, MP in 1982. A shot of the commemorative plaque. Shots of the Fobbing Horse Barrier at Fobbing Creek under construction and then completed and of the East Haven Barrier. This includes a duck ramp. The barrier at Tilbury is shown in operation. At Leigh-on-Sea shots of the beach and of boats at high tide. The construction of the new sea wall is shown along with the high water mark of 1953. The completed wall and the path along it completes the film.

Background Information:

John Wakeham was the Conservative MP for Maldon.


Selected for UFH4 but not used

Featured People:

Rt. Hon. John Wakeham, MP

Featured Organisations:

Anglian Water

Featured Events:

Opening of the Benfleet Barrier, 1982

Featured Buildings:

Benfleet Barrier; Houses of Parliament; Lobster Smack Public House, Canvey Island; Thames Barrier; Tower Bridge

David Williams

Anglian Water

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