FRBC response to Harrods Wharf letter

Posted on Wed, 17 Feb, 2021

Recently there was an open letter written by the owner of Harrods Wharf to our CEO, Steve.  You can see a copy of this letter here.

Our response to this letter says:

17th February 2021

Dear Jamie,

Thank you for your recent letter and it was great to see that you recognise that safety is the top priority for all river users and that a ferry route that utilises Harrods Wharf would be a significant hazard for anyone in its vicinity.  Thank you also for taking the time to consider some suggestions as to how FRBC could operate safely around Harrods Wharf and the subsequent pontoon.

As I mentioned when we spoke, we sit in the same camp with everyone who has been so tragically affected by the closure of Hammersmith Bridge and I want to make clear again that FRBC is not objecting to a ferry crossing, we absolutely want a safe ferry crossing up and running ASAP and a route using Harrods Wharf is just one of several different routes currently being considered by Transport for London. 

We are objecting to the construction of Harrods Wharf and subsequent use as a ferry terminal given the significant safety concerns that we have both recognised.  As FRBC has highlighted several times, and will continue to do so, the safest place for the Hammersmith Ferry to operate is on the stretch of river between FRBC and Hammersmith Bridge, not FRBC and Harrods Wharf.

It is great that we also agree that the PLA will play a key role in assessing which of the three competing bidders has the safest proposed route and we are engaging both with the PLA and Hammersmith Taskforce to point out the issues that the construction of a ferry terminal and pontoon at Harrods wharf would create.

We have spent time assessing the proposed changes to established navigation patterns in your letter and I am afraid to say that these are not workable, and I would be extremely surprised if any of the three competing bidders thought differently.  As you mention in your letter, the navigation of children on the water is not your responsibility nor an area of your expertise.  There are several points from your suggested changes to the navigation patterns on the river which highlight this including:

1. Your diagram does not show that any pontoon operating at Harrods Wharf will need to extend to the middle of the river to operate a ferry at all tides as required by Transport for London.
2. Your diagram does not show the current safe navigation patterns used by all rowers that have been agreed between the PLA, Thames Regional Rowing Council and British Rowing.  These navigation patterns are what keep all river users, young and old, safe on the water and the Harrods Wharf proposal would make these impossible to follow and, in the process, prevent access past Harrods Wharf for any river users approaching from Putney or beyond.
3. Your suggestion of deliberately conflicting junior crews and a commercial ferry service onto the same pontoon frankly is just dangerous.

Finally, your suggestion about keeping any pontoon permanently in situ and beyond the temporary five-year period as requested by TfL and FRBC using Harrods Wharf alongside this clearly would not be able to happen for all the safety reasons listed above.

It is good to see that we share common ground on safety being the top priority for any ferry crossing and we would be supportive of a crossing that operated on the stretch of water between FRBC and Hammersmith Bridge.

Your Sincerely,

Steve O’Connor
Fulham Reach Boat Club



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