Environmental management – guidance

River Thames: conditions, closures, restrictions and lock closures

Reach closures, restrictions and lock closures affecting boaters on the River Thames.

River conditions

Find out the latest river conditions and strong stream warnings by:

River closures and restrictions

The ‘find more detail link’ in the ‘What’s happening’ column will download guidance with details of the closure or restriction.

River closures: updated 2 February 2016

When Where What’s happening
Tuesday 2 February 2016 until further notice Botley Road Bridge, Osney Bridge There is a sunken narrowboat blocking the river channel. Boat passage through the Botley Road Bridge is impossible and the river is therefore closed at this point. Find more details on Botley Road Bridge.
Saturday 6 February 2016, 9:30am to 12 noon and 1:30pm to 4pm Molesey Reach Hampton head race: the river between Sunbury Lock and Benns Island (just downstream of Platt’s Eyot, Hampton) will be closed to all traffic other than authorised vessels. Find more detail on Hampton head race.
Saturday 13 February 2016 Between Sunbury Lock and Molesey Lock Molesey veteran’s head race: the river between Sunbury Lock and Benn’s Island (just downstream of Platt’s Eyot, Hampton) will be closed to all traffic other than authorised vessels. Find more detail on Molesey veteran’s head race.
Saturday 27 February 2016, 10am to 12 noon and 2:30pm to 4:30pm Mapledurham Lock to Caversham Bridge Reading University head of the river race: during these times, boats can’t navigate anywhere on the River Thames between Mapledurham Lock and Caversham Bridge, Reading. Find more detail on Reading University head of the river race.
Saturday 12 March 2016, 10:30am to 12:30pm and 1:30pm to 3:30pm Hampton Court Bridge to a point 250 metres downstream of Steven’s Eyot, Kingston Kingston head of the river race: during these times, boats can’t navigate anywhere on the River Thames downstream of Molesey Lock between Hampton Court Bridge and a point 250 metres downstream of Steven’s Eyot, Kingston. The only exception to this is the relatively short length of the left-hand channel alongside Thames Ditton Island. Find more detail on Kingston head of the river race.

River restrictions: updated 26 January 2016

When Where What’s happening
Until further notice Cookham Lock Due to a technical issue, Cookham Lock is only operable by handwind during any periods of self-service until further notice (this was previously the case between 10pm and 7am only).
October 2013 until further notice Teddington Reach Maintenance work to Kingston railway bridge: work is required as part of a planned maintenance program. At least one of the three bridge arches will remain open for navigation. The visitor moorings on the upstream end of Kingston Wharf will be suspended for the duration of the work. Details of traffic management system to follow shortly.
Sunday 31 January 2016, 1pm to 5pm Iffley Reach Isis Winter League: racing will be held at half-hourly intervals. Marshals may request boaters to moor at one of the designated mooring points and wait, for a period of no longer than 15 minutes. Find more detail on Isis Winter League.
Saturday 13 February 2016, 9am to 4pm Henley Reach Henley fours and eights: the navigation channel will be along the centre of the river. All non-racing boat traffic must pass on Buckinghamshire, Fawley Court side of Temple Island. Find more detail on Henley Fours and Eights.
Sunday 14 February 2016, 1pm to 5pm Iffley Reach Isis Winter League: racing will be held at half-hourly intervals. Marshals may request boaters to moor at one of the designated mooring points and wait, for a period of no longer than 15 minutes. Find more detail on Isis Winter League.
Saturday 20 February 2016 Chertsey Reach Burway Rowing Club head of the river race: the navigation channel will be on the right hand side of the river. Find more detail on Burway Rowing Club head of the river race.
Thursday 17 March 2016, 12:30pm to 3pm, and Saturday 19 March 2016, 12:30pm to 4:30pm Henley Reach Henley Boat Races and practice: the navigation channel will be on the Berkshire, Remenham (left-hand bank looking upstream) side of the river. Find more detail on Henley Boat Races and practice.
Friday 25 March to Monday 28 March 2016 Devizes to Westminster Devizes to Westminster canoe race: the effect of wash from powered boats can put the canoeists at greater risk of capsize, so please show consideration. Find more detail on Devizes to Westminster canoe race.
Sunday 17 July 2016, 9:30am to 4:30pm Kingston Reach Kingston Rotary Club dragon boat event: the navigation channel will be on the right-hand side of the river. Find more detail on Kingston Rotary Club dragon boat event.

Planned lock closures: updated 4 February 2016

The Environment Agency carries out a programme of works on the River Thames every year between November and Easter. In order to carry out this work, it often needs to close a number of locks for relatively long periods.

So that river users can plan their winter cruising and boat movements well in advance, the Environment Agency publish the first issue of its programme of works in early August each year. Details of issue 5 are shown below.

The programme of work is subject to change due to weather and other circumstances. Revised issues are published throughout the winter.

Listed below are the locks that will be closed during the 2015 to 2016 investment programme. The locks will be closed from the first date listed and re-open on the day after the final date.

When Where What’s happening
2 November 2015 to 4 March 2016 St John’s Lock Re-sheeting the head lock gates and repairing the tail lock gates
2 November 2015 to 4 March 2016 Godstow Lock Re-sheeting the lock gates
2 November 2015 to 5 February 2016 Culham Lock Refurbishing the lock chamber
8 February 2016 to 26 February 2016 Day’s Lock Minor repairs to the lock chamber
2 November 2015 to 26 February 2016 Temple Lock Refurbishing the lock chamber
Original proposed closure start date postponed Cookham Lock The design of the new pedestal system has been completed and the Environment Agency is reviewing tender submissions. While it it may still be possible to complete the work in this year’s programme, given the approach of Easter, the most likely option will be to carry out this work during the planned winter 2016/17 investment programme. The Environment Agency will try to find a way of working by lock restrictions rather than full closure.
To be confirmed Penton Hook Lock Work to repair the tail lock gate pintle has been rescheduled as part of our planned winter 2016/2017 investment programme.

Keep up to date

Get the latest river information before you go boating. Call our Floodline on 0345 988 1188 and when prompted select option 1 followed by the number shown below:

  • River conditions and strong stream warnings: 011131
  • Work on the river and lock closures: 011132
  • Events on the river which affect boating: 011133

Find out about call charges

Email and SMS updates

The Environment Agency sends email updates on River Thames closure and restrictions. To subscribe to this service, email riverthames@environment-agency.gov.uk with ‘subscribe to harbourmaster’s notices’ in the subject line.

Keep up to date with the current conditions on the River Thames, subscribe to email and SMS updates through our River Thames Conditions website.

Know your river conditions

Any river activity poses a greater risk when there are strong currents, high river levels or cold weather. River flows can increase even during the summer months – never assume sunny weather means the conditions are not hazardous.

Warning boards may be displayed at locks to inform river users of the conditions. Read the explanations of what these mean for you. Don’t take risks and never underestimate the power of the river.

When these red boards are displayed on lock gates, we advise users of all boats not to navigate because the strong flows make it difficult and dangerous.

People in hire boats arriving at a lock where these boards are displayed should stop immediately and contact their hire boat operator to ask for instructions.

Strong stream warning
Strong stream warning

When these yellow boards are displayed on lock gates, we advise users of all unpowered boats not to navigate and users of powered boats to find a safe mooring. This is because river flows are likely to strengthen, and red boards could be displayed very soon and without further warning.

Stream increasing warning
Stream increasing warning

When these yellow boards are displayed on lock gates, we advise users of all unpowered boats not to navigate and users of powered boats to navigate with caution.

Stream decreasing warning
Stream decreasing warning

Dealing with changing river conditions

Read this section carefully to find out what to do if you find yourself in conditions where we advise you to stop navigating. Remember, not all conditions will be serious enough to require all the measures suggested below.

  • Please take the advice to stop. Even the most experienced boater can be caught out, so think about those who could be put in danger if they have to help you.
  • Moor your boat in a safe place, preferably in a marina or at a recognised mooring. Limited space may be available at some locks. Moor against high banks if you can.
  • Ensure your mooring lines are fastened to secure fixings such as bollards, rings or even trees; put out extra lines for additional security and allow enough slack for a further rise in river levels; don’t rely on your own mooring pins or stakes, they might not hold.
  • If possible, put extra fendering (eg scaffold poles or strong timber posts) between your boat and the bank side, to prevent your boat drifting onto the river bank and becoming caught up when levels drop.
  • Make sure you have a safe exit ashore from your boat. If not, you should consider returning home or finding alternative accommodation until conditions improve.
  • If you are running low on essential supplies or have other safety concerns and are not able to vacate your boat safely, treat this as an emergency and dial 999 to ask for evacuation.
  • Those in hire boats: if you are advised to stop navigating, you should stop immediately and contact your hire boat operator and follow their instructions.

Please remember your life is more important than your boat.

The Environment Agency are not an emergency service and are not able to carry out search and rescue, or provide supplies to stranded boats.