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 23 April 2014

When Where What’s happening
Saturday 26 April 2014 – 20 minutes between 13.00 and 14.00 Mapledurham Lock Emergency river and weir rescue exercise: Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, Thames Valley Police, the Royal Air Force and the Environment Agency are carrying out an emergency exercise at Mapledurham Weir. Our patrol launches will be based 300 metres above and below the lock. If you are navigating during this time you may be asked to wait for a period of up to 20 minutes before you are allowed to proceed towards the lock. This is to ensure that boaters are not affected by the downwash created by a helicopter which may be taking part in the exercise. Public access by foot to and from the lock site will be controlled between 10.00 and 16.00. Find more detail.
From 7:00am on Tuesday 6 May to 7:00am on Thursday 8 May 2014, and from 7:00am on Tuesday 13 May to 7:00am on Thursday 15 May 2014 Whitchurch Toll Bridge, between Whitchurch and Mapledurham Locks Whitchurch Toll Bridge refurbishment: the river will be closed at Whitchurch Bridge at these times so that the contractors can bore 2 holes 30 metres deep into the riverbed. These holes will in turn be filled with concrete to form the foundation piers for the bridge. In order to bore these holes, the piling rig must be positioned and secured in the navigation channel. Therefore navigation through the bridge will not be possible between the above times. Find more detail.

River restrictions: updated 11 April 2014

When Where What’s happening
Until further notice Cookham Lock Cookham Lock is only operable by handwind between 10:00pm and 7:00am. We are working to switch this lock over to 24-hour public power.
1 April 2014 to September 2014 Whitchurch Toll Bridge Refurbishment of Whitchurch Toll Bridge: the width of the navigation arch at Whitchurch Toll Bridge, between Whitchurch and Mapledurham Locks will be restricted between 1 April and September 2014. Find more detail.
Friday 11 April 2014 until further notice Grafton Lock Grafton Lock repairs to head sluice: the casting on one of the head lock gate paddle boxes at Grafton Lock has fractured. The lock is still operational with only 1 sluice on the head gates. It will therefore be slower than usual when filling. Materials have been ordered to manufacture a replacement, which will be fitted as soon as possible. Find more detail.
22 April to 6 May 2014 Sonning Bridge and Shiplake Reach Sonning Bridge protection works: Wokingham Borough Council is installing some additional structures to protect Sonning Bridge from being struck by boats. Work will commence on 22 April 2014 to install two dolphins (protective triangles of timber piles) either side of the main navigation arch on the downstream side of Sonning Bridge and some additional timber fenders inside the arch. Please use the main navigation arch during these works. Follow directional signage as well as any instructions given by officers of the Environment Agency and/or the work boat. Find more detail.
25 April 2014, 9:30am to 5:30pm Sunbury Reach: Desborough Channel Weybridge Community Regatta: the navigation channel will be established on the old river at Shepperton. Masters of all boats should maintain a safe speed and lookout in the area of the Desborough Channel. Find more detail.
Saturday 26 April 2014, 9:00am to 6:00pm Iffley Reach, Iffley Lock to Folly Bridge Oxford City Bumping Races: all those in charge of boats must pay attention to advice offered by official regatta marshals, to give racing boats a fair and clear passage particularly when they are rowing to the start area. Racing will be held at half-hourly intervals. During the race, the marshals may request boaters to hold station and wait for a period of no longer than 15 minutes until the current race has finished. On the day of racing from 8:00am to 7:00pm, mooring is prohibited between the Isis Public House and Longbridges on the west towpath side of the river. Find more detail.
3 May 2014, 1:00pm to 4:30pm Sunbury Reach: Desborough Channel Elmbridge Canoe Club Regatta: the navigation channel will be established on the old river at Shepperton. Masters of all boats should maintain a safe speed and lookout in the vicinity of the Desborough Channel. Find more detail.
17 May 2014, 8:30am to 7:30pm Kingston Reach - Dittons Bend to the confluence of the River Mole Thames Ditton Regatta: racing boats will be using a buoyed channel on the Surrey, Thames Ditton side of the river. The navigation channel will be established on the Middlesex, Hampton Court side of the river. Regatta boards will mark the upstream and downstream extent of the course. Masters of all boats should maintain a safe speed and lookout between Thames Ditton Marina and Molesey Lock. Find more detail.
October 2013 to April 2014 Kingston Railway Bridge between Teddington and Molesey Locks Kingston Bridge maintenance work: scaffolding will cover the span/arch where work is taking place. At least 1 of the 3 navigation arches will stay open throughout the work. The middle arch will stay open throughout the works with the headway restricted by 1.71m over the central 10m in the middle arch. Navigate with caution in the area and follow directional signs and/or directions given by the safety boat and/or officers of the Environment Agency. Boats going upstream must give way to boats coming downstream. Find more detail.

Planned lock closures

Updated 17 April 2014. Listed below are the remaining locks that will be closed during the 2013/14 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
4 November 2013 to 9 May 2014 Teddington Skiff Lock Refurbishing the lock gates.
21 October 2013 to 9 May 2014 Teddington Barge Lock Refurbishing the lock chamber walls and timbers.
4 November 2013 to 4 April 2014 Osney Lock Refurbishing weir A and replacing the guard piles on weirs A and B, site demobilising.
4 November 2013 to 4 April 2014 Iffley Lock Replacing the support piles on the tail layby.
20 January 2014 to 4 April 2014 Sandford Lock Refurbishing the lock chamber.
24 March 2014 to 4 April 2014 Cleeve Lock Repairing lock side walkways and replacing rubbing timbers.
4 November 2013 to 31 March 2014 Whitchurch Lock Closure of the road bridge downstream of the lock for a re-build by Oxfordshire County Council. Navigation reopens 31 March 2014. Road opening due September 2014.
4 November 2013 to 4 April 2014 Shepperton Lock Refurbishing the lock chamber.
4 November 2013 to 17 April 2014 Teddington Skiff Lock Refurbishing the lock gates.
21 October 2013 to 9 May 2014 Teddington Barge Lock* Refurbishing the lock chamber walls and timbers.

*Teddington Launch Lock provides passage to all customers and will remain open during the closure of the Skiff and Barge locks.

The Environment Agency are also carrying out other capital works on the River Thames during 2013/14, please see below for details. These works will not affect you using the locks during the construction.

Rushey Paddle and Rymer weir – Replacing the existing weir with 3 dipping radial gates and raised sill incorporating lightweight paddles on the shorter section.

Due to the flooding over the winter the final works at Rushey have been delayed until after Easter. The weir is fully operational and this delay has no impact on the lock itself.

Molesey Weir – Weir B replacing the existing 15 split gates with 7 radial gates, including a new fish pass - spring to late autumn 2014.

Completed Work

The following work has been completed under this programme:

  • Grafton Lock - Head gates replaced
  • Osney Lock - Weir A refurbished and guard piles on weirs A and B replaced
  • Iffley Lock - Support piles on the tail layby replaced
  • Sandford Lock - Lock chamber refurbished
  • Culham Lock - Lock gates inspected and refurbished
  • Cleeve Lock - Repair of lock side walkways and rubbing timbers replacement
  • Hurley Lock - Emergency repairs made to sluices
  • Penton Hook Lock - Repair made to tail gates
  • Shepperton Lock - Lock chamber refurbished

Deferred Work

  • Shifford Lock and Blakes Lock - work deferred to future years
  • Rushey Lock and Abingdon Lock - work deferred to next year
  • Sunbury Lock - work deferred to next year to combine gate and chamber projects for efficiency
  • Grafton Lock – tail gate replacement

Keep up to date

Get the latest river information before you go boating. Call our Floodline on 0845 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

We also send email updates on River Thames closures and restrictions. To subscribe to this service go to our Thames updates subscription page.

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.
  • For hire boaters: if you are advised you to stop, you must call your boatyard 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.

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