THESE are the dramatic moments an out of control narrowboat drifted towards Worcester's bridges in rising flood water.

The unmanned boat, called “Expensive Hobby”, was seen spinning in the fast flowing waters of the Severn on a collision course for city bridges at around 1pm today.

But disaster was averted thanks to the quick and courageous actions of specialist boat crews from Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service.

At one point the vessel drifted perilously close to the central pillar of the railway bridge as firefighters were locked in a dynamic race against time to secure the vessel before it was dashed to pieces in the swirling waters.

The vessel, which had come loose at the Camp House Inn at Grimley, north of Worcester, was tugging with it the remains of the pontoon, suggesting there was little the owner could have done to prevent what happened.

The boat was covered with a tangle of dead branches and other debris collected during its erratic journey at speed down the Severn.

Jim Wainwright, the pub's landlord, called West Mercia Police and the owner of the boat who lives on the other side of Birmingham, giving firefighters a headstart in the painstaking operation.

But despite this the crews had to race to catch up with the narrowboat as it drifted past them and under Sabrina Bridge where onlookers gathered to watch.

Firefighters in a boat under the supervision of the incident commander, watch commander David Blinston, entered the water at Worcester Rowing Club.

During a particularly challenging phase the narrowboat smashed into branches on the eastern bank of the river, causing them to snap as firefighters shouted instructions to one another.

Despite the speed of the loose boat, firefighters were able to pull alongside and board her, securing her to railings on the bank with ropes close to Grandstand Road.

They first attached a line to the narrowboat before heading off in their own boat and attaching the other end to railings, making it fast with a second rope.

At one point a firefighter stood with his legs splayed out for balance on the roof of the narrowboat as she was brought in safely.

Firefighters shouted: “Don’t lose it!”, “pull the slack in!, “I don’t know whether it’s going to hold!” and finally “That’s it, you’ve got it!” as the boat was moored safely.

Worcester’s station commander Rob Allen said :“Our main concern was stopping the boat hitting the river bridge.

"The river conditions were dynamic. The water was flowing very fast. It was challenging due to that flow.”

He said if the narrowboat had hit the river bridge it could have broken up and sunk.

If it had missed the bridge it could also have been swept towards the weir, causing further problems.

The boat suffered ‘minimal damage’ because it was secured so quickly.

He added: “The pontoon has been pulled away. I don’t know the cause of that. It has been pulled away and dragged down the river.

"I am delighted we managed to secure the boat in such a quick and effective manner, limiting damage to the boat."

The owner of the boat for the last five years who declined to be named said he received a call from the Camp House Inn at Grimley telling him what had happened.

He will now have to liaise with the canal and river trust to decide how best to recover the narrowboat.

Witness Royston Smith of Moor Street, Worcester, who called 999, said: "I saw it at the top end of Pitchcroft.

"It was going into the bank then back out again.

"We thought somebody was on it at first but we thought, when we saw it spinning, there can't be.

"The fire crews were brilliant, really on the ball."