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 12 February 2015

When Where What’s happening
Saturday 21 February 2015, 1:30pm to 4pm Molesey Reach (Sunbury Lock to Benns Island) Molesey Veteran Head race: the river just downstream of Platt’s Eyot, Hampton will be closed to all traffic other than authorised vessels. Find more detail on Molesey Veteran Head race.
Saturday 7 March 2015, 10am to 12 noon and 2:30pm to 4:30pm Mapledurham Lock to Caversham Bridge, Reading Reading University Head of the River race: boats can’t navigate anywhere on the River Thames between Mapledurham Lock and Caversham Bridge, Reading. Casual mooring to the towpath and anchoring in this area is not allowed. Find more detail on Reading University Head of the River race.
Saturday 21 March 2015, 10:30am to 12:30pm Hampton Court Bridge to Steven’s Ait Kingston Head of the River race: boats can’t navigate between these points, except in the Surrey channel alongside Thames Ditton Island. Find more detail on Kingston Head of the River race.

River restrictions: updated 12 February 2015

When Where What’s happening
Until further notice Cookham Lock Cookham Lock is only operable by handwind between 10pm and 7am. We are working to switch this lock over to 24-hour public power.
October 2013 to March 2015 Teddington Reach, Kingston railway bridge between Teddington and Molesey Locks 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.
November 2014 to April 2015 Reading Bridge (immediately upstream of Caversham Lock) Reading Bridge strengthening work: scaffolding will cover the outer two thirds of the bridge, leaving the centre third open for navigation. The navigation channel will be 20.45 metres wide. The normal headway through the channel will be available (5.38 metres). Find more detail on Reading Bridge strengthening work.
November 2014 to July 2015 Between Reading Bridge and the downstream end of Fry’s Island Construction of the new Reading cycle and footbridge: navigation will remain open and will either be redirected along the north side of Fry’s Island or through a restricted channel on the south side. Access to Fry’s Island and the services located there will be possible throughout the works. Find more detail on the construction of the new Reading cycle and footbridge.
Saturday 31 January to Saturday 28 February 2015 Boulters Lock The lock will re-open on the 31 January, after it has been closed for 3 months for winter works. During February there will be ongoing timber works at the lock entrance and on the head lay-by. This might mean some short-term delays of 20 to 30 minutes, while sections of work are finished or floating plant is moved out of the way.
Saturday 14 February 2015, 9am to 4pm Henley Reach (Henley Business School to the Phyllis Court Club) Henley Fours and Eights races: 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 races.
Friday 27 February 2015, 1pm to 5:30pm and Wednesday 4 to Saturday 7 March 2015, 12 noon to 5:30pm Iffley Reach, Iffley Lock to Folly Bridge Rowing On and Torpids race: race marshals may ask boaters to moor for up to 15 minutes at one of the designated mooring points. Find more detail on Rowing On and Torpids race.
Saturday 28 February 2015, 9:15am to 4pm Chertsey Reach (M3 Motorway Bridge to Penton Hook Lock) Burway Head of the River race: the navigation channel will be on the Middlesex side of the river. Be prepared to give way to safety boats if they are involved in a rescue. Find more detail on Burway Head of the River race.
Sunday 12 April 2015, 9am to 5pm Culham Reach (upstream of Culham Lock cut to the confluence with the River Ock) Abingdon Head of the River race: the navigation channel will be on the west side of the river (Abingdon Marina side). Find more detail on Abingdon Head of the River race.

Planned lock closures

Updated 26 February 2015. Listed below are the locks that will be closed during the 2014 to 2015 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
5 January 2015 to 27 February 2015 Rushey Lock Refurbishing the layby riser piles.
5 January 2015 to 27 February 2015 Abingdon Lock Inspecting and refurbishing the lock gates.
12 January 2015 to 14 February 2015 Caversham Lock Repairing the lock gate hollow quoins.
5 January 2015 to 2 March 2015 Marlow Lock Replacing the lock gates.
10 November 2014 to 6 March 2015 Romney Lock Replacing the lock gates.
Deferred to 2015 and 2016 Penton Hook Lock Refurbishing the tail lock gate pintles.

Completed work

Grafton Lock: the tail lock gates have been replaced. Marsh Lock: the lock gate seals have been repaired. Cookham Lock: the lock gates and sluice gears have been refurbished. Boulters Lock: the lock chamber has been refurbished and the lock gates and layby have been repaired. Sunbury New Lock: the lock gates have been repaired and the lock chamber has been refurbished.

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

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.
  • 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.