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Richmond Lock Draw Off

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As a relatively new resident to Richmond, I was much intrigued by talk of the ‘Richmond Lock Draw off’. Is it some kind of fierce battle, involving a throng of eccentric artists furiously sketching the Lock, to win some kind of coveted prize, I wondered? Most certainly not.

The draw off occurs annually when the weirs at Richmond are left open so that essential maintenance work and a riverbed inspection can be carried out. This basically means that the scenic stretch of river between Richmond and Teddington Locks drains out at low tide and the riverbed is partially exposed. It’s a great proposition for a weekend walk: don some wellies and wander along the bottom of the River Thames. We unearthed all manner of marine creatures and objects: invasive Asiatic clams and Zebra mussels, a cluster of Chinese mitten crabs huddled under a paving slab, some very old-fashioned beer bottles, an abandoned pram and even a dining table. Try it – who knows what you’ll find? The 2010 draw off takes place from 31 October to 28 November – consult the Port of London Authority’s website for low tide times. The best spot is along the north bank by Glover’s Island, near Marble Hill Park. Remember to wash your hands afterwards!

Celebrity spot: Richmond resident and former University Challenge quizmaster Bamber Gascoigne assisting the Environment Trust with the clean-up operation. Sarah Belcher.

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