Hammersmith Bridge Boat Crash Caused £100,000 Worth of Damage

Council says it will ask the boat hire company to pay

The party boat stuck under Hammersmith Bridge
The party boat stuck under Hammersmith Bridge

February 12, 2024

Hammersmith & Fulham Council has revealed the cost of the damage caused to a Grade II* listed bridge after it was hit by a boat carrying West Ham fans to a Premier League match.

The MV Emerald of London vessel crashed into Hammersmith Bridge last December, as it was ferrying fans down the River Thames to Craven Cottage, Fulham FC’s stadium. Video footage showed it wedged beneath the Victorian crossing before acknowledging defeat and turning back.

The council, which owns the bridge, wrote in a recent release that the gantry was severed during the incident, meaning stabilisation works on the bridge have had to be paused while the damage is repaired. A spokesperson for the council has now told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) the total cost of fixing the gantry is estimated at £100,000.

They said the local authority has no choice but to pay for the repairs to keep the project moving, though it will look to recover costs from the company that owns the boat. This fee comes on the back of the millions the council has already sunk into the bridge, after microfractures were discovered in its pedestals in 2019.

It has been shut to motor vehicles ever since, and was only partially reopened to pedestrians and cyclists in 2021. The council announced last week that a temporary cycle lane will be installed on the crossing from Tuesday (13 February), while it completes its repairs to the gantry.

The full reopening of Hammersmith Bridge, estimated to cost £250m, is being held up by a stalemate over funding between the council, Transport for London (TfL) and the Government. Cllr Sharon Holder, Hammersmith and Fulham Cabinet Member for the Public Realm, said when announcing the temporary cycle lane, “We are committed to the full reopening of Hammersmith Bridge to motor vehicles including buses, and we are doing all in our powers to deliver on that commitment. But we are a small local authority, and we must have the financial support of the DfT and Transport for London, as well as an agreement to fund our share via a toll.”

A business case submitted with the Department for Transport (DfT) by the council last April is yet to be approved, with a Government spokesperson previously telling the LDRS the review is ongoing to ‘ensure it is viable and offers value for money for taxpayers’. A TfL spokesperson said it ‘will support the borough in progressing their next steps’.

The boat was forced to turn around and go back up river

The boat hitting the bridge didn’t mark the low point for the fans on board as the Hammers were beaten 5-0.

London Party Boats, the owner of the MV Emerald of London, was approached for comment.

Ben Lynch - Local Democracy Reporter