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1000 Boat-Lift Milestone for PLA's Thames Base

Thames Clipper's Start Clipper on the PLA Denton Boat Lift

The Port of London Authority’s (PLA) Denton base chalked up a milestone last week when its boat lift handled its 1,000th vessel: a Thames Clipper fast ferry out of the water for routine maintenance. The 70-tonne mobile boat-lift, which opened in 2003, is used to take boats from the water and move them to a broad concrete apron where maintenance and repairs can be completed. The lift is used to handle many different types of craft, from PLA harbour launches to smaller passenger ferries, houseboats to rigid inflatable boats (RIBs).

Commenting on the milestone, PLA marine operations director, Peter Steen, said:

“A busy river needs facilities to keep it moving. That’s what we have with the Denton boat lift. It enables us to lift out our own fleet to keep it maintained and ready for operations. Just as importantly it’s used by other river operators, something that the latest lift for Thames Clippers, whose business has grown massively in the last seven years, underlines.”

The Thames is one of the UK’s most heavily used rivers, home to: the UK’s second biggest port; its busiest inland waterway for passengers and freight; a centre for recreation and leisure; and a centre for events from the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee River Pageant to the University Boat Race.

“Passenger journeys on the river are increasing. The Star Clipper that we lifted at Denton is on our successful new Putney service, which carried more than 120,000 passengers in its first year. When operating an intense river transport service it’s great to have easy access to maintenance facilities like this on the Thames. Our only wish is that it could handle our larger boats too,” added Thames Clippers managing director, Sean Collins.

The boat lift is part of the progressive development of Denton Wharf as the main operational base for the PLA's Marine Services and Engineering operations. The PLA has invested more than £10 million in the facility over the last ten years, including the jetty development, construction of Marine House and progressive strengthening of the quay to allow larger lifts to be handled.

From Denton, PLA teams maintain the Authority’s fleet of vessels, mark the Thames navigation channels and run diving and salvage operations. The jetty has been essential to major events and investment projects on the Thames. Moorings and celebratory bells were loaded out for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee River Pageant; environmental monitoring buoys for the London Gateway Port development and items recovered from wreck archaeological works landed on the jetty.

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Notes to editors:

  • The PLA acquired Denton Wharf as its marine services base in 1993.
  • Its progressive programme of development has included rebuilding the jetty, installing a boat lift, building a new office, additional warehousing and shot blasting facility.
  • The facility is PLA Marine Services’ operational base for maintaining the 40-vessel fleet, storage and maintenance for buoys, lights, mooring and counter-pollution equipment. It is also the centre for the PLA’s diving and salvage services.
  • The base is used by other river companies for their boat maintenance alongside the core PLA work.


  • Alistair Gale, Mob: 07711-440736