Drowning danger warning at Shadwell Basin issued by Tower Hamlets mayor

PUBLISHED: 11:39 26 July 2018 | UPDATED: 12:50 26 July 2018

Don't risk swimming in Shadwell Basin, warns Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs. Picture source: Mike Brooke (inset) and Google

Don't risk swimming in Shadwell Basin, warns Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs. Picture source: Mike Brooke (inset) and Google

Mike Brooke/Google

A public appeal not to risk swimming in east London’s dangerous Shadwell dock basin during the heatwave has been made this-morning by the Mayor of Tower Hamlets.

Yellow warning form the mayor...; don't jump in this dangerous dock basin! Picture source: LBTHYellow warning form the mayor...; don't jump in this dangerous dock basin! Picture source: LBTH

John Biggs visited the basin dock early today, urging people not to be enticed into the deep water to cool off, following several drownings over the years.

“There’s a problem because of dangerous obstacles hidden underwater,” he told the East London Advertiser last night.

“Metal obstacles and mud can trap swimmers before they realise it. The deep silt can suck you under—even if you’re a strong swimmer.

“A poor woman came into my surgery whose son had drowned in Shadwell Basin two years ago. There have been other deaths.”

Mayor turned-photograpger John Biggs snaps sunbathers at Shadwell BasinMayor turned-photograpger John Biggs snaps sunbathers at Shadwell Basin

The basin is one of three entrances to the old London Docks, deep enough to take cargo vessels, but the silted mud built up since the docks closed in the late 1960s can suddenly pull swimmers under.

“We can’t fence the whole place off because its part of our heritage,” the mayor pointed out.

“I took a photo on my iPhone on Sunday evening showing people at the dockside. It’s enticing in the hot weather to jump into the water, but it’s a terrible risk.

“The old industrial dock basin is not a play area and isn’t secure for swimming—there are no lifeguards. We’d be failing in our duty if we didn’t bring it to the public’s attention.”

The council has also had complaints from the Shadwell Basin project youth centre about people sunbathing on the pontoon they use for their activity boats.

The dock basin has a sad history of deaths over the years, the most recent being a woman in her 40s who drowned in February.

Another tragedy was the death of a 20-year-old man in 2010 following an incident on the dock quayside at night when he fell 20ft into the water.

Two passers-by heard his girlfriend scream and jumped in to try and rescue him—but couldn’t find him in the dark. It was 12 hours before his body was recovered by Met Police marine unit from Wapping.

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