Council leader warns other high profile rowing events at risk
A previous Boat Race Day in Putney. Picture: Positively Putney
There has been an angry reaction from local councillors to the decision to stage the 2021 university boat race in Cambridge.
The move which has been made due to concerns about social distancing and Hammersmith Bridge has been branded a ‘kick in the teeth for Putney businesses’.
The decision to move next April’s race away from the Thames means that hospitality businesses in Putney will miss out on the day which traditionally brings in their highest amount of revenue – at a time when they will be looking to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. Normally thousands of visitors and residents come along to the embankment of Putney
In recent years Positively Putney have held an event alongside St Mary’s Church through to Putney Wharf to compliment the festivities for the Boat Race., filling the market and shops during the build up for the first race to start at 16:31. The day was packed with entertainment from Wandsworth radio and many fantastic supporting acts, as well as a wide selection of street food stalls and arts & crafts workshops. We were also joined by the Putney & Wimbledon Brass Band who brought Putney Wharf to life with their performance from midday.
And with repair work to the bridge at Hammersmith set continue for at least seven years it could be some time before Putney once again hosts the world-famous rowing race.
Council leader Ravi Govindia said, “This decision is a real kick in the teeth for the pubs, bars and restaurants of Putney for whom boat race day is the highlight of their year.
“Thousands of spectators normally head for Putney and this means the town centre’s hospitality businesses tend to enjoy a roaring trade that day.
“Many will have been looking to use next year’s race as the chance to bounce back from the impact of coronavirus, with the hope and expectation that life will have largely returned to normal by April 2021. Those hopes have now been dashed.
“The decision also means that other high-profile rowing events must be in jeopardy. These include the annual men’s and women’s Head of the River Races, where again thousands of visitors spend the day in Putney.”
The Hammersmith Bridge task force announced this week that work is to begin to stabilise the bridge by restoring the cracked iron pedestals. It is hoped this will eventually allow pedestrian and cycle traffic on the bridge as well as river traffic underneath it.
Agreement has yet to be reached between the government’s task force, TfL and Hammersmith & Fulham Council as to which agency will foot the bill for the repair. Wandsworth Council blames Hammersmith & Fulham for the problem saying it has failed to maintain the bridge over the year. Hammersmith & Fulham Council claim that the bridge was neglected under the previous Conservative administration and it was only when they ordered a comprehensive survey of the state of the bridge that the dire condition of the bridge was discovered.
The Boat Race course is usually four miles and 374 yards long, or 6.8km and stretches between Putney and Mortlake on the River Thames.
This course was first used for The Boat Race in 1845 and has been used for every Race since; apart from 1846, 1856 and 1863 when the race was held in the opposite direction between Mortlake and Putney.
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December 1, 2020