Tower RNLI came to the rescue of a man on Monday (8 January) after he fell into the Thames in pitch black

Tower RNLI received reports of a man who had been seen climbing up scaffolding at the Old Thameside Inn at Pickfords Wharf on Monday (8 January) and launched their lifeboat at 8.22pm, taking only two minutes to arrive at the scene.

When the crew arrived, the man, believed to be in his late 20s, was 40 feet above the water and had begun to clamber onto a narrow four inch ledge, three floors up a neighbouring building.

The police had attempted to move their boat closer to the wharf but were unsuccessful due to the state of the tide, which was only a metre deep. However the RNLI crew were able to manoeuvre the lifeboat into position below the building.

Due to the dark, it was initially very difficult to locate the man, but he was picked out by searchlights from the lifeboat, just as the owner of a flat in the building came onto his balcony to find the man clinging to the wall.

The flat owner tried to reach out with his hand to lead the casualty to safety, but the man suddenly lost his footing, falling backwards and crashing into the inky black water just feet from the lifeboat.

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“As he hit the water he disappeared briefly from view and then surfaced,” said RNLI Tower Helm, Stuart Morrison. “We feared the worse as he had fallen into less than a metre of water and we thought he could have suffered major injuries, but we had no choice but to pull him straight into the lifeboat because the strong ebb tide was threatening to drag him underneath the pub”.

“It had all the possibilities of being a pretty horrible loss and if he had been pulled underneath the pub there are all sorts of dangers and obstructions. He would have been sucked under and got trapped, so we only had seconds to pull him out of the water,” he added. “There is no doubt this is a life saved – it we hadn’t have been there he would have drowned”.


The man suffered minor facial injuries and was handed over to paramedics, who also found no further injuries. The man was then taken away by ambulance and the RNLI crew stood down.