Pupils at £39,000 St Paul's School ferried across Thames in BOATS

Parents of pupils at £39,000-a-year St Paul’s School have been ferrying them across the Thames in BOATS due to Hammersmith Bridge closure – as it’s revealed crossing won’t reopen to traffic for two years

  • Parents of pupils at St Paul’s School started enterprising trips to get to class
  • One river user said ‘As enterprising as it is , the tip is fraught with danger’ 
  • It came after route used by 4,000 students was shut down over safety fears  
  • Hammersmith Bridge was closed to pedestrians last month after cracks found
  • Estimates suggest it will take nine months and £46million to get pedestrian safe 

Fed-up parents of pupils at a £39,000-a-year bankside school have been using small boats to cross the River Thames after Hammersmith Bridge was closed for repairs.

Mothers and fathers with children at boys-only St Paul’s School near Barnes, south west London, have been secretly doing drop-offs in the tiny vessels after the route was shut.

Teachers and staff are understood to be unaware of the enterprising water-based school run and have even laid on buses themselves to try and tackle the problem.

But parents have been using the ‘tin fish’ nicknamed boats – which are usually used for coaching rowers – to nip across the Thames.

The problem has got so bad the river community have been emailed telling them the Port of London Authority is on the lookout for any of the crossings.

It considers the issue so serious it has warned it will take enforcement action if any are caught in the act.

A boating community insider told MailOnline: ‘These are the little coaching boats, that usually escort rowers out onto the river. They are small metal things with an outboard motor on the back, so can go pretty well.

‘As enterprising as it is for parents, a trip like that is obviously fraught with danger.

Bridge over troubled water: No Hammermith route means much longer journey for pupils

Parents of children at St Paul’s School have not told teachers about the water journeys

The Thames boating community have been sent a message warning them of the school trips

The 133-year-old bridge in west London was closed ‘indefinitely’ to motorists in April last year

‘Everyone is annoyed the bridge is shut, but this doesn’t seem like a risk worth taking.’

St Paul’s School, which says it caters for gifted boys aged 7 to 18 years, charges £12,997 per tem to boarding pupils and £8,636 per term to non-boarders. 

Hammersmith Bridge, which is maintained by Hammersmith and Fulham London Borough Council, was estimated to have been used by 4,000 students a day to get to school before it was shut last month.

Costs to reopen the bridge run into hundreds of millions of pounds and will take years

A Government task force has been launched to reopen Hammersmith Bridge

The structure had to be shut over widening cracks were found, meaning some pupils have to go on three-hour commutes just to get taught.

It had previously serviced St Paul’s as well as Harrodian, which costs £8,147 for sixth formers.

New estimates on repairs say it will be at least nine months before £46million of work can make the bridge safe again for cyclists and pedestrians.

It could cost as much as £163million and take two years for cars to get back to using it.

The school, seen middle right, is served by the now-closed bridge being used by pupils

A Government task force had originally been launched to reopen the bridge after it first closed to motor traffic last year, then to pedestrians this year.

It was announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who slammed a ‘lack of leadership’ in the capital to fix Hammersmith Bridge.

He said earlier this month: ‘There has been a lack of leadership in London on reopening this vital bridge.

‘It’s stopped Londoners moving about easily and caused huge inconvenience to everyone, adding extra time to their commute or journeys.

‘We won’t let hard working Londoners suffer any longer. The Government is setting up a task force to establish the next steps in opening the bridge as speedily as possible.

‘We’ll be decisive and quick to make sure we can take steps that’ll be good for commuters, good for residents and good for business.’

The Port of London Authority did not respond to requests to comment. The school is yet to comment.

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