Two of the RNLI’s London lifeboat stations were in the top five busiest around the UK and Ireland during the summer.

The busiest was Tower station, which operates from a floating pier below Waterloo Bridge. Chiswick station, situated at Corney Reach Pier , was ranked third busiest overall.

Statistics from the charity, which runs lifeboats from three bases along the River Thames, show there were a total of 263 separate lifeboat launches between  June and August 2013. This is a handful more than the 253 launches recorded in the same period in 2012.

Overall for the RNLI it was the busiest summer for 24 years, with a total of 4,300 lifeboat launches - up from 3,816 in the summer of 2012.

Andrew Ashton, RNLI Regional Operations Manager, said: ‘Yet again 2013 has been busy for our lifeboat crew members along the tidal reaches of the River Thames. Yet there are still millions of people living in Greater London that have no idea we have a presence in London. We’re akin to a hidden emergency service"

Among the notable rescues carried out by London lifeboats between June and August were:

• Rescuing four people from the Thames after the speedboat they were in sank within seconds near Millennium Bridge

• Assisting the Queen’s barge ‘Gloriana’ after her engines failed and she became lodged beneath Kew Bridge

• Plucking a rower and his vessel to safety along with a coach in a small motor vessel after both got into difficulty near Chiswick

• Towing an historic, rapidly-sinking Dunkirk little ship to safety after she began taking on water near Kew

• Searching the river for a man who was seen walking down onto the foreshore by Waterloo Bridge and straight into the water until he disappeared

• Helping the crew of a narrow barge which had become wedged against another vessel in the Thames by Embankment in a strong tide

• Going to the aid of a man whose boat had capsized in Teddington and he had his shirt wrapped around the propeller, and

• Investigating reports of a dead body spotted on the foreshore – which turned out to be the corpse of a giant catfish!

Story dated September 26th 2013



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