Onlookers laughed and cheered as they watched a £1m yacht crash into Richmond Bridge at the weekend.

Bemused crowds gathered on Richmond Riverside on Sunday afternoon, March 16, to witness the Princess 57 motor yacht career towards the Grade II listed bridge and make a number of misguided attempts to pass underneath.

The boat struggled and was seen reversing before the strong current swung its back end around and sent it crashing into one the borough’s most historic landmarks.

Simon Byrne, of Cambridge Road, Twickenham, watched the debacle from the riverside and said he had never seen a boat that big on the river before.

The 40-year-old said: “It was certainly very funny. It sort of scraped itself sideways on the bridge and the crowd started gathering to watch him.

“The crowd on the bridge was just massive.”

The driver was seen struggling to control the boat for about five minutes before managing to steer it under the bridge to a raucous cheer from passersby.

Schoolboy Piers Rees was on his dory boat going back to Twickenham with his father, uncle and neighbour when they passed the yacht and tried to help.

Piers, 13, said: “We were looking at the boat because it was trying to go through the bridge and then we saw it tip a little bit which was obviously when it had hit the bridge.

“It made a big scraping noise and it was quite loud.

“He kept reversing but the current kept pulling him back round.”

The Radnor house pupil said his crew thought about helping the people on the yacht but did not have a line long enough.

He said: “We were thinking if it was ever going to get away from the bridge.

“There was a windscreen that went right the way around the boat which was cracked and smashed and the front was a little bit bent.”

No one was injured, but the boat was left a little worse for wear.