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 25 March 2015

When Where What’s happening
From 8am on Thursday 11 June to 12 noon on Sunday 14 June 2015 Forbury Loop (River Kennet) Reading Water Fest: Forbury Loop on the River Kennet in Reading will be closed to all boats other than those participating in the Reading Water Fest. The main navigation channel will remain open throughout. Find more detail on Reading Water Fest.

River restrictions: updated 25 March 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.
March to July 2015 Moulsford Railway Bridge, between Cleeve and Benson Locks Moulsford railway bridge repair works: there are two navigable arches at Moulsford Railway Bridge. One bridge arch will be closed at a time. The closed arch will be signalled with a red disc and yellow buoys in front of the arch. Find more detail on Moulsford Railway Bridge repair works.
Thursday 2 April 2015, 1pm to 4:30pm Henley Reach (50 metres downstream of Henley Bridge) Practice for Henley races: the navigation channel will be on the Berkshire side of the river. Find more detail on practice for Henley races.
Sunday 5 April 2015, 12:30pm to 4pm Henley Reach (50 metres downstream of Henley Bridge) Henley races: the navigation channel will be on the Berkshire side of the river. Find more detail on Henley races.
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.
Sunday 21 June 2015, 9am to 7pm Dreadnought Reach Thames Valley Park regatta: the navigation channel will be on the Oxfordshire side of the river. Find more detail on Thames Valley Park regatta.
Wednesday 25 June 2015, 9:30am to 8pm Dreadnought Reach Combined Services regatta: the navigation channel will be on the Oxfordshire side of the river. Find more detail on Combined Services regatta.
Saturday 27 June 2015, 9am to 7pm Dreadnought Reach Reading Town regatta: the navigation channel will be on the Oxfordshire side of the river. Find more detail on Reading Town regatta.

Planned lock closures

The Environment Agency carry out a programme of works on the River Thames every year between November and Easter. In order to carry out this work, they often need 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 their programme of works in early August each year.

The programme of work is subject to change due to weather and other circumstances. Revised issues of the programme of works are published throughout the winter. To receive this information, sign up to email updates or check this webpage.

The Environment Agency invested £1.8 million in River Thames locks during the 2014 to 2015 investment programme. These are the the completed works:

  • Grafton Lock: the tail lock gates have been replaced
  • Rushey Lock: the layby riser piles have been refurbished
  • Abingdon Lock: the lock gates have been inspected and refurbished
  • Caversham Lock: the lock gate hollow quoins have been repaired
  • Marsh Lock: the lock gate seals have been repaired
  • Marlow Lock: the lock gates have been replaced
  • Cookham Lock: the lock gates and sluice gears have been partially refurbished
  • Boulters Lock: the lock chamber and upstream layby have been refurbished with new timber fendering
  • Romney Lock: the lock gates have been replaced
  • Sunbury New Lock: the lock gates have been replaced 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.