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Last Updated: Monday January 10 2005 15:32 GMT

Why was the Thames Barrier built?

The Thames flood barrier

In 1953 a very bad flood covered 160,000 acres on Canvey Island and killed 300 people in Essex.

That forced the UK government to appoint a committee to look at flooding.

Thames flood barrier raised

The solution was the Thames Barrier, built at a place called Woolwich Reach.

It is nine concrete barriers and between each is a large metal gate that can be raised when needed to guard against flooding.

Apart from monthly tests, the Barrier has been raised 25 times since it was finished in 1982.