Safety changes leave owners of river barges fearing dry times ahead

Operators of historic vessels could be sunk by requirements costing up to £250,000 per boat

Once, thousands of sailing barges plied the Thames estuary. Today, the sight of Will, the largest such vessel still travelling on the waters in London – now converted for pleasure cruises – turns heads.

Passengers on the deck of a giant cruise ship sailing up to Tower Bridge peer and wave at the historic barge below. But Will’s co-owner, Mark Tower, 60, warns that such sights – “absolutely part of the Thames maritime heritage” – could soon be lost.

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