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: updated 5 April 2016

When Where What’s happening
Wednesday 2 March 2016, until further notice Cookham Lock Fault with the public power: from 7am to 9am, and 8:30pm to 10pm, Cookham Lock will not be operable, so it will be closed during these hours. Find more detail on the fault with the public power at Cookham Lock.

River restrictions: updated 29 April 2016

When Where What’s happening
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 1 of the 3 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 30 April 2016 Sunbury Reach Elmbridge Canoe Club Regatta: the navigation channel will be on the old river channel at Shepperton. Find more detail on Elmbridge Canoe Club Regatta.
Monday 2 May 2016, 8am to 6:30pm Marlow Reach Marlow spring regatta: the navigation channel will be on the Berkshire (left side) of the river. Find more detail on Marlow spring regatta.
Wednesday 11 May to Sunday 24 July 2016 Sheepwash Railway Bridge Installation of walkway: follow directional signage and instructions given by Environment Agency and Network Rail staff. Find more detail on the installation of walkway.
Saturday 14 May 2016, 7am to 8pm Kingston Reach Thames Ditton regatta: the navigation channel will be on the right-hand (Hampton Court) side of the river. Find more detail on Thames Ditton regatta.
Sunday 15 May 2016, 8am to 5:30pm Bray Reach Maidenhead junior regatta: the navigation channel will be on the east (Taplow) side of the river. Find more detail on Maidenhead junior regatta.
Saturday 28 May 2016, 11am to 7pm Sonning Reach Sonning regatta: the navigation channel will be on the Thames Path, left-hand side of the river. Find more detail on Sonning Regatta.
Sunday 30 May 2016 Bell Weir Reach Staines and Egham kayak event: the navigation channel will be on the left-hand side of Church Island. Find more details on Staines and Egham Sea Cadets kayak event.
Sunday 5 June 2016, 9am to 5pm Kingston Reach Kingston University river clean dive: the most easterly arch of Kingston Road Bridge will be closed to navigation between 9am and 5pm on Sunday 5 June whilst divers carry out a river clean dive. Find more detail on Kingston University river clean dive.
8am on Thursday 9 June to 12pm Sunday 12 June Forbury Loop Reading water fest: the Forbury Loop on the River Kennet will be closed to all boats other than those participating in the Reading water fest. Find more detail on Reading water fest.
Saturday 11 June 2016 Mapledurham Reach Charity dragon boat race: the navigation channel will be on the Whitchurch-on-Thames side of the river. Find more detail on Charity dragon boat race.
Sunday 19 June 2016, 9am to 7pm Dreadnought Reach Thames Valley Park regatta: the navigation channel will be on the right (non-towpath) side of the river. Find more detail on Thames Valley Park regatta.
Wednesday 23 June 2016, 9:30am to 8pm Dreadnought Reach Combined Services regatta: the navigation channel will be on the right (non-towpath) side of the river. Find more detail on Combined Services regatta.
Saturday 25 June 2016, 9am to 7pm Dreadnought Reach Reading town regatta: the navigation channel will be on the right, non-towpath side of the river. Find more detail on Reading town regatta.
Sunday 3 July to Sunday 24 July 2016, 10pm to 6am Old Windsor lock cut bridge Strengthening work: assisted passage under the bridge will be provided by an onsite safety boat positioned at Old Windsor lock. Find more detail on strengthening work at Old Windsor.
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 17 March 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 publishes the first issue of its programme of works in early August each year.

The Environment Agency’s programme of work is subject to change, due to weather and other circumstances, often beyond its control. It therefore publishes revised issues of the programme of works throughout the winter, so customers can keep up to date. To receive this information, you can sign up to the email update service by emailing riverthames@environment-agency.gov.uk. You can also check this webpage.

During the 2015 to 2016 investment programme, the Environment Agency invested £1.3m in River Thames locks. These works have now been completed as listed below:

  • St.Johns Lock: re-sheeting the head lock gates and repairing the tail lock gates
  • Godstow Lock: re-sheeting the lock gates
  • Culham Lock: refurbishing the lock chamber
  • Days Lock: minor repairs to the lock chamber
  • Temple Lock: refurbishing the lock chamber
  • Marlow Lock: fitting baffle plates to improve the head gates
  • Boulters Lock: re-sheeting the tail lock gates

Keep up to date

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

  • 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

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.

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.