by Chiswick RNLI

Chiswick RNLI lifeboat crew rescue two people cut off by the rapidly rising tide

The swift rise of the flood tide on the Thames caught out two young men walking on the foreshore in Barnes. At its peak the flood tide can rise three feet in 30 minutes on the upper tideway of the Thames. Rescue by RNLI lifeboat was the only option.

Chiswick Lifeboat approaches two men cut off by the tide

While on exercise Chiswick RNLI Lifeboat crew were called to a report of people cut off by the tide in Barnes. When they arrived the found two young men wedged against the river wall on the few remaining inches of dry surface. Although fire-fighters were attending above, they were unable to assist because of the overhang of the river wall and the sloping surface which made it impossible to use their ladders.

The lifeboat crew were able to evacuate the young men onto the lifeboat just before the tide came over their feet. They were fitted with lifejackets and after the crew assessed that they were uninjured the men were landed safely at the steps by the White Hart pub.

Chiswick RNLI Helmsman Steve Alexander commented ‘Many people who go on the foreshore are not aware that the Thames is tidal this far from the sea, and certainly are not aware that the tide floods twice as quickly as it ebbs, meaning that the dry foreshore can disappear very rapidly. If in difficulty on the river call 999 and ask for the coastguard. The lifeboat can be there in a few minutes’

RNLI Media contacts:

David Clarke, RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer (Chiswick), 07951 21 0500

Chiswick RNLI lifeboat station is the second busiest in the UK and Ireland. Since the RNLI search and rescue service on the Thames started in 2002, Chiswick Lifeboat has attended over 3,500 incidents and rescued over 1,730 people. As well as saving lives at sea around the coasts of the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, the RNLI also plays a huge part in protecting people’s safety on some of our inland waterways including the River Thames, where it operates four lifeboat stations at Teddington, Chiswick, Waterloo Bridge (Tower Lifeboat Station) and Gravesend. Tower and Chiswick are the two busiest RNLI stations, responding to around 10% of the calls across all 238 RNLI stations in 2018. Unlike many other stations, Tower, Chiswick and Gravesend operate with a round-the-clock crew who are ready to launch within 90 seconds of an emergency call coming in. At each station, the full-time crew work alongside volunteers who come from all different 'day jobs' such as bankers, TV producers, civil servants, students and other emergency services, and give up their time to help save lives on the Thames.