Construction of what is now the world’s second biggest moveable flood barrier, the largest is Maeslankkering in the Netherlands, began in the 1970s.

London, and settlements in the surrounding Thames estuary, had been the victims of countless floods of differing severity since recordings began.

But, with London’s population continuing to grow, it was decided a long term solution to flooding was needed to protect the city.

A site at Woolwich in south east London was chosen because of the straightness of the banks and the underlying chalk meaning it could hold the structure.

The barrier was officially opened by the Queen at a ceremony held on the banks of the Thames on 8 May 1984, when a commemorative plaque was unveiled to mark the occasion.

To mark the special anniversary former workers were also invited back to the barrier to see the closure.

Luke Walsh

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