Frequently Asked Questions


What is the RTVC?

The RTVC is an exhibition and information centre for the benefit of the public. There is a dedicated space inside the hold of the vessel for displays and meetings which are held for the public, groups and informally to do environmental work. The RTVC tries to create an environment which is sociable and fun and one in which learning almost takes place by just "being there", which also happens to have food and drink on-board.

Can you come aboard the RTVC primarily for food and drink?

No, the use of the catering facilities is secondary to membership and therefore the principle reason for coming aboard is to be a part of this environmental initiative. 

Can members of the public just come aboard and view the exhibition?

Yes, the visitors can come aboard and look at all exhibitions and the available information free of charge. The exhibition space remains free of charge and the most important part of the RTVC work. The RTVC has full planning permission for this public function. After all its in the name, the River Thames Visitor Centre, that means open to all for the benefit and the enjoyment of the Thames. 

What is the RTVC for?

The RTVC was set up so that people can enjoy being on the Thames, from the moment a visitor leaves "dry land" at the entrance to the river centre, they have one of the few opportunities to be on the water. This in itself is a major part of getting people interested in the natural world and for most this leads to wishing to know more.The RTVC is housed on a National Historic Ship, this piece of maritime heritage needs looking after, maintenance and repair and this takes time and money. The RTVC also provides a headquarters for other environmental groups and social well-being projects. 

Are there commercial pressures on the RTVC to intensify the use?

No, in an ideal world it would be nice for the RTVC to receive a grant from the Government, but even without this, the RTVC remains meticulously independent following the same ethical principals that it had in 2001; taking care not to be influenced by government, or any business wishing to change our environmental work, or views. The RTVC has environmental outreach projects which are central to our environmental beliefs. The exhibition space is the largest use proportion of the usable internal area available. This does more than just provide displays and information, it facilitates uses by the public and groups and provides a headquarters for their work within and outside the RTVC. As this is a small floating mooring it has no ability to get larger so the only pressure is to be sustainable, meet the needs of the public and always be better at what it does.

Who mans the RTVC?

There are no paid staff and to persuade people to give up their time to volunteer is hard. The Curator volunteered over 500hrs per annum for the last 4 years and this year the significant contribution of others joining the RTVC committee has added significanly to this volunteering time to assist environmental education for local people and visitors from London and all around the world. When the river centre is manned there is a significant buzz about the place and in 2013 the level of manning by volunteers has been greater than any other time to date. It is hoped that this trend continues.

Why doesn't the RTVC do more projects, events etc?

The RTVC is a social enterprise and has no grants, or wealthy patrons. All the work depends on the variable income from its activities and members. The RTVC has big plans for 2014, but it can only achieve these aims with the help of the public. It is unrealist for anyone to expect something for nothing, yet at the RTVC's the balance of uses seems to make that possible. However with the help of the RTVC Committee, the RTVC will be looking into other forms of income in future to increase the levels and quality of the exhibition and future projects.

How good could the RTVC be?

In doing outreach, the knowledgeable and experienced campaigners know, there is never an end; you are simply always between here and there. When the RTVC started, it was empty and over the years more information has been displayed. If we were a high budget charity, we would have sufficient funding to do many things, but the trouble is the majority of charities have high over-heads often up to 60% or above of their income goes on staff and other costs. We have no grants and the RTVC has not ever made a profit, as it is a social enterprise, yet even the money we do get is mostly not enough to run the centre without private donation. So if people would like a better river centre, we are most happy to receive any donations. (including from the Council).

Why does the RTVC do this environmental work if it does not get a grant?

It is simple, because no-one else does. There are other groups in the Borough that receive huge sums of money from the Council to do river clean-up, look after buildings, but there is no other environmental project which is freely open to the public in Richmond Borough. The RTVC helps solve some of the important environmental issues we all face; managing the Thames, reducing pollution from Modgen STW, finding out through community surveys what are the environmental issue residents really think are important and working on those. The RTVC being on the towpath gets to meet hundreds of people everyday and provides the information that helps them.

What is the most important issue in Richmond Borough?

After extensive surveys it was discovered that parks and open spaces including the Thames was the most important issue. Coupled to this love for the open space was a disgust for the loss of this space because of increasing housing developments.

What is the most important issue in the world?

The reason that environmental scientist think globally and act locally is that global problems affect us locally. Over-population is the earth's greatest problem and it manifests itself in Richmond with pressure for housing on our green spaces, bulge classess in our schools and reducing Council services.

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