Posted: 21.11.20 at 06:01 by Sam Petherick
Residents are exploring the exposed Thames bed in Richmond in record numbers.
Hundreds of foreshore searchers have visited the river between Richmond and Teddington this year, taking advantage of the annual draw-off which leaves parts of the river floor uncovered at low tide.
The weir gates at Richmond Lock and Weir are lowered apart from an hour either side of high tide for most of the year. This maintains the river level at 1.72 metres between Richmond and Teddington, which is mandated by an act of parliament.
Every November, the gates are raised for up to three weeks to allow for essential repairs. As we reported, the draw-off began on November 9 and runs until November 27.
Foreshore searchers need a permit from the Port of London Authority – and it is becoming increasingly popular.
The PLA said it has issued 1,011 three-year adult permits, 32 junior permits and 43 monthly permits this year alone.
In 2019 the body issued 837 three-year permits and in 2018 it was 578.
Around 2,500 people currently have a valid permit.
Acting licence manager Pippa Barber said press coverage and books had raised the profile of foreshore searching:“Several people I have spoken to have mentioned that there is a greater awareness of the permits among those on the the foreshore and others are being encouraged to make sure they have a permit when on the foreshore.”
Officers from the Met’s art and antiques unit have approached people on the foreshore in the past to ensure they have the correct permits.
Anyone who wants to go searching, metal detecting, ‘beachcombing’, scraping or digging along the Thames floor needs a permit.
A standard PLA permit allows digging up to 7.5cm.
Visit their website to apply for a foreshore permit.