Something very large is totally making a splash in the Thames

A 68-foot long wooden hippopotamus is proving a spectacular sight on the Thames this month as the sculpture spends four weeks floating on the water thanks to Beck & Pollitzer, the engineering services company in Dartford, Kent. The ‘HippopoThames’ art installation is part of the Totally Thames festival, a 30-day event taking place in September on and along the 42-mile stretch of water. See a short film of the lift and construction of the huge hippo, affectionately named ‘Ship-popotamus’:

Known, amongst many things, for its expertise in lifting ‘all things great and wonderful’, this isn’t the first time in 151 years that Beck & Pollitzer has been called upon by clients to raise vessels and lift exotic safari animals.

“You name it, we’ve lifted it, and done it all safely”, says Nigel Blayney, a crane driver who has worked with the engineering company for over 10 years. “A call can come in from a client anywhere in the world, to lift anything from a historic ship like the Cutty Sark to a real life giraffe or elephant that needs to be moved to a breeding centre. And now we can add a 15-tonne floating hippo to our list.” The artwork is the creation of Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, who was inspired to create the hippopotamus after hearing that they inhabited the Thames in prehistoric times.

HippopoThames was lifted into King George V dock in East London by Beck & Pollitzer then towed down the Thames via the Thames Barrier in Woolich, under Tower Bridge and past the Houses of Parliament on its way to its mooring in Nine Elms on the Southbank. The creature will be positioned at the site until 28 September and is accessible to the public at low tide.

  • The festival organiser, the Thames Festival Trust, engaged Beck & Pollitzer to lift the 15-tonne pontoon out of the waters of King George V Dock in East London and lay it dockside so that a 68-foot long statue of a hippopotamus could be installed on its deck. This lift took place on 5 August 2014.
  • On 1 September 2014, Beck & Pollitzer lifted the display, placing it and the pontoon into the river so the hippopotamus could be towed down the Thames, as a partially-submerged creature, somewhat imitating its behaviour in its natural habitat.
  • The hippopotamus artwork was unveiled as part of Totally Thames, a 30-day festival celebrating one of Britain’s most famous rivers.
  • The artist, Mr Hofman, is best known for his huge rubber duck, which was taken around Europe, North and South America and the Far East before famously deflating in Hong Kong.
  • Members of the media have affectionately named the installation ‘Shippo-potamus’.

Beck & Pollitzer is a global specialist in the lifting and moving of heavy or difficult loads, and is an expert in the installation of high-tech production equipment for some of the world’s leading manufacturers. From the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree to exotic animals and priceless works of art, our clients turn to us to lift the most challenging, high-value loads.

Beck & Pollitzer’s client list includes over 150 leading organisations from diverse sectors, all over the world.

Some of these are:

  • Kent Messenger
  • Thames Festival Trust
  • Port Lympne Reserve
  • Howletts Wild Park
  • News International
  • City of London
  • Jaguar Land Rover
  • Rolls-Royce
  • Airbus Industries
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Pfizer
  • Nestle
  • Smurfit Kappa
  • Tata Steel

For further information including case studies and other stories, please contact:

Tanya Palmer
Group Marketing Manager
Beck & Pollitzer
Phone  +44 (0)1322 628655