Divers from the Oxford River Rescue Service turned their attention from saving people to recovering drinking glasses.

Dozens had found their way into the Thames after The Head of the River pub opened at Folly Bridge in 1977.

It was so busy in its first few weeks that drinkers cleared tables by tossing glasses and bottles used by previous customers into the water.

The diving team offered its services after learning that the pub had lost 30 dozen glasses and two dozen plates. Many were thought to have met a watery end.

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Divers, headed by Eric Swale, the service’s diving officer, began what was to become a three-monthly scour of the river bed. They returned with 45 glasses and an assortment of ash trays and bottles.

The youngest member of the team, 10-year-old Simon Holmes, son of David Holmes, warden of the Oxford Riverside Centre, recovered three glasses.

Afterwards, licensee Nigel Clarke, who paid the divers 5p for every item they brought back, said he was very pleased with the operation.

He said he had never encountered such losses in pubs he had run before, adding: “It’s largely because we’re so very, very busy. There are quite a few more glasses in the river.”

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The Head of the River is located at what was once known as St Aldate’s Yard, which was made up of a house, warehouses, stables and sheds. The main warehouse was built in 1827, and over a century later was converted into a pub.

The pub got its name thanks to a competition which ran in the Oxford Mail. The finishing line of the four-day Oxford University rowing regatta is just to the east of the pub, and the name The Head of the River refers to the boat that comes first in the race at the end of each day.