The prospect of being deluged by the sea would be a reality in London today without the Thames Flood Barrier. It protects London from going under – literally.

At times of extreme high tide or storm surges (when high winds cause massive tides and waves) the Thames would be at risk of bursting its banks and flooding London. But the Barrier – built in the 1970s and early ’80s – consists of a series of enormous gates raised from the riverbed to block the upper reaches of the river (stretching from the Cotswolds through central London) from the sea.