A day in the life of a pier controller

We caught up with Nigel from London River Services to find out all about his job as a pier controller. 🚢💦 

What’s a typical day as a pier controller like?

In the morning we start with routine safety checks, these checks include infrastructure, PPE and security. We also check on unstaffed local piers to make sure they’re safe for passengers and operators alike for the day ahead.  

Throughout the day here on Westminster pier we do random safe mooring checks of boats to make sure they’re mooring safely on the pier. ⛵️ There’s also lots of liaising between myself and the boat operators to discuss staffing levels, service updates and passenger engagement.  

In the evening, charter boats can be challenging, especially if you don’t have the support of the operator staff on the pier. These charter services vary from business lunches to discos. 🕺🎉 

However, I don’t think you can say there’s a real typical day as you deal with members of the public which makes every day different.  

Boat going past the Houses of Parliament

What do you love about your job?  

You can’t beat the river for a nice place to work, I love the views and being out in the fresh air! 🏙💦 

I also enjoy dealing with all of the operators, they’re some of the nice people who work on the Thames, and being part of London River Services means that you feel part of the river community. The community have a wealth of knowledge and are always happy to help anyone trying to start their career on the river. 🤓 

Another thing I enjoy is the challenge of assisting passengers, whether that’s offering directions or in more complicated situations. An example of this would be when a passenger had lost an important bit of medical equipment for her child on a boat, the boat had finished work for the day and the captain had gone home! After much investigating on my part, I managed to identify the boat, and spoke to the captain who came back to retrieve the vital equipment for the passenger from the boat which was berthed up in the middle of the river! 😲 

What challenges do you face in your role?  

Being the pier controller of Westminster pier is a challenge, it’s the longest pier on the Thames and as it’s in a prime location, one of the busiest. Before the pandemic, we’d be dealing with party boats on a Friday night where we’d have 5 boats using 4 charter berths, and another 5 boats waiting in the river to pick up their passengers. It was always a challenge to make sure everyone got on their correct party boat and could safely get on their way to enjoy the evening! 🥳 

Westminster pier roundel.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen working at London River Services?  

I’d have to say the strangest thing I’ve seen was a large whale on the river. 🐳 I saw it prior to it breaking in the media and it was a wonderful sight! 🤩 

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