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:

  • visiting our River Thames Conditions website
  • calling our Floodline on 0345 988 1188 or 0845 988 1188 (24-hour service) to hear recorded information and advice (find out about call charges)
  • talking to lock staff
  • water levels in the upper River Thames, particularly upstream of Abingdon lock, may currently be shallower than you are used to in some places, due to below-average rainfall so far this year. We are asking boaters take extra care. Find out more about water levels in the upper Thames.

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 21 July 2015

When Where What’s happening
Thursday 20 August 2015 and Monday 7 September 2015, 7pm to midnight Scours Lane, Reading (one mile upstream of Caversham Bridge) Reading festival temporary bridge: expect long delays whilst they install and dismantle the bridge. Find more detail on Reading festival temporary bridge.

River restrictions: updated 31 July 2015

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 to July 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. Details of traffic management system to follow shortly.
July 2015 to August 2015 Reading Bridge (immediately upstream of Caversham Lock) Reading Bridge strengthening work: a one-way navigation channel will be in operation through the bridge between 7am and 7pm on weekdays. 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.
12 noon on Monday 6 July 2015 to 6am on Friday 24 July 2015 Henley Reach Deconstruction of the Henley Royal Regatta course.
Friday 24 July 2015. 9.30am to 5:30pm Sunbury Reach Weybridge community regatta: the navigation channel will be on the old river channel at Shepperton. Find more detail on Weybridge Community Regatta.
Saturday 25 July 2015. 9am to 6:30pm Penton Hook Reach Staines amateur regatta: the navigation channel will be on the Surrey side of the river. Find more detail on Staines amateur regatta.
Saturday 25 July 2015, 9:30am to 6pm Cleeve Reach Goring and Streatley regatta: the navigation channel will be on the east side of the river. Find more detail on the Goring and Streatley regatta.
Saturday 25 July 2015, 7pm to 8:30pm Henley Reach Club to pub swim: the navigation channel will be on the east (Wargrave Road) side of Bird Island and Rod Eyot. Find more detail on club to pub swim.
Saturday 25 July and Sunday 26 July 2015, 10am to 5:30pm Teddington Reach Hampton Court and Dittons amateur regatta: the navigation channel will be on the Middlesex side of the river. Find more detail on Hampton Court and Dittons amateur regatta.
Sunday 26 July 2015, 8:30am to 6pm Laleham Reach Burway sprint regatta: the navigation channel will be on the Middlesex side of the river. Find more detail on Burway sprint regatta.
Saturday 1 August 2015, 7:30am to 7pm Henley Reach Henley town and visitors’ regatta: the navigation channel will be on the Buckinghamshire (Fawley Court) side of the river. Find more detail on Henley town and visitors’ regatta.
Friday 7 August 2015, 8am to 8pm Marsh Reach Wargrave and Shiplake regatta and swim: the navigation will be on the Berkshire, Wargrave-side of the river. Find more detail on Wargrave and Shiplake regatta and swim.
Saturday 8 August 2015, 8:30am to 5:30pm Bray Reach Maidenhead amateur regatta: the navigation channel will be on the Berkshire side of the river. Find more detail on Maidenhead amateur regatta.
Saturday 8 August 2015, 9am to 5pm Bell Weir Reach Wraysbury and Old Windsor regatta: the navigation channel will be on the Berkshire side of the river. Find more detail on Wraysbury and Old Windsor regatta.
Sunday 9 August 2015 Shiplake Reach Henley triathlon and swim: the navigation channel will be on the Berkshire side of the river. Find more detail on Henley triathlon and swim.
Sunday 9 August 2015, 8am to 2pm Henley Bridge to Marlow Bridge Bridge to bridge swim: approximately 700 swimmers will leave Leander Club near Henley Bridge and swim downstream via Hambleden, Hurley and Temple Locks to Marlow Bridge. Find more detail on the bridge to bridge swim.
Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 August 2015, 10am to 5pm Molesey Reach Sunbury amateur regatta: the navigation channel will be on the Surrey side of the river. Find more detail on Sunbury amateur regatta.
Saturday 22 August 2015, 9am to 5pm Sunbury Reach Thames valley skiff club regatta: the navigation channel will be on the Middlesex side of the river. Find more detail on Thames Valley Skiff Club regatta.
Saturday 5 September 2015, 8:30am to 6pm Cookham Reach Cookham regatta: the navigation channel will be on the Buckinghamshire side of the river. Find more detail on Cookham 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.