The Environment Agency’s navigation program has invested £9.5 million in the non-tidal Thames in 2022/23, delivering a variety of refurbishment projects from Rushey Lock in western Oxfordshire to Romney Lock in Windsor.
These include improvements to public safety, resilience and facilities to make lock visits an even more enjoyable experience for boaters on the non-tidal Thames this year.
Work has recently been completed at Rushey Lock, on the upper reaches of the Thames, next to the old lock house, a refurbished guest house often visited by Douglas Fairbanks and Errol Flynn. The lock chamber has undergone a complete refit with old, worn concrete repaired, a new ladder installed and the old wood on the walls replaced with new beams, specially handcrafted on site. The old cesspool has also been broken out and exchanged for a state-of-the-art replacement.
At Romney Lock near Windsor, the site of a historic weir in the 14th century and where an ancient oak lock was first built in 1797, the side railings have been replaced with durable, environmentally treated posts. A new dwarf wall has been built that curves around the lock gate and all imperfections have been repaired to improve security throughout the site.
The new gate at Romney Lock in Windsor is made of hardened softwood
The new dwarf wall curves around Romney Lock
Some of the other major projects over the past 12 months include:
At Caversham Lock, which dates back to 1777 and was the first lock to be built from pine, the Environment Agency has replaced 220 meters of wooden boat fenders and grab chains on both sides of the upstream berth. This work improves safety for motorized and non-motorized craft.
New timber installed at Caversham Lock in Berkshire
At Marlow Lock, the chamber constructions have been renewed to improve safety for users. This was a difficult job to do from the banks, so a floating platform was used to make the upgrade work simple and safe during the winter season. The lock is another historic site with the weir upstream first mentioned in the Domesday Book.
At Bray Lock, built in 1845 and originally grassed, the lock gates have been realigned and the locks refurbished to allow safer and more efficient passage for boats.
At Goring Lock, which started as a flash weir in the 1500s, the chamber walkway has been repaved and 35 meters of safety fencing has been installed on the towpath and central island.
Maria Herlihy, a waterway manager for the Environment Agency, said:
We are delighted to have completed this series of works to preserve the special heritage at our lock sites across the iconic River Thames, which will benefit boaters in the 2023 season. These projects are funded by Defra Grant-in-Aid funding which allows us to manage and maintain over 600 miles of inland waterways across England.
In total, we invested in more than 20 projects in 22/23 and look forward to executing this year’s investment program which will further enhance our customers’ experience on the Thames. With all these improvements and the prospect of a long summer ahead, there’s no better time to hit the river.
Boat owners must register boats or have a license if they want to keep or use them on the River Thames and all inland waterways. “Boats” means any craft with or without a motor, such as sailboats, riverboats, canal boats, or houseboats, as well as “open boats” such as canoes, paddleboards, rowboats, or sloops. More information can be found at www.gov.uk/register-a-boat