Pix: Environment Agency

A sunken narrowboat was recovered in a major operation over several days on the Thames at Oxford.

The vessel was one of two which had broken free from their moorings and crashed into a bridge near Osney Lock.

The Environment Agency said: "One of the boats settled in a side on position which resulted in it being pushed over by the force of the current, taking on water and subsequently partially sinking. In these positions both boats presented a hazard to other river users as well as blocking the passage of other boats through the bridge."

The boat that was still afloat was towed clear (above right) and secured but efforts to remove the second boat were at first unsuccessful. The EA and emergency services had tried to pump out the boat enough to move it and later attempted to use air bags to at least partially refloat it.

But when both methods failed because of the weight of the boat, estimated at 25 tonnes, and the strength of the current, part of a retaining wall was demolished and a temporary slipway constructed.

Two heavy recovery trucks were brought in to haul the boat out of the water which was finally successful on Friday (Feb 5th)..

An EA spokesman explained teams had been working against the clock because forecast heavy rain over the weekend was expected to result in rising river levels. In addition the boat had been pushed against the footings of the bridge, a listed heritage structure, which carryies one of the busiest roads into the city centre.

The owner of sunken boat, told the Oxford Mail he had put his £60,000 life savings into the vessel and had now lost everything. See the article HERE.

The agency said: "This unfortunate incident is a reminder to all boaters of how important it is to ensure their craft are securely tethered at all times.

"This requires boat owners being alert to changing river conditions and adjusting mooring lines accordingly, or moving to another, safer location if possible. Boaters can check real-time river conditions at http://riverconditions.environment-agency.gov.uk/ "

Story updated Feb 5th 2016