Chertsey Abbey founded by Saint Erkenwald


Abingdon Abbey founded by Cissa, King of the West Saxons (or his nephew Hean)


One of the first cuts created at Abingdon


Black and white photograph of the River Thames with Windsor Castle in the background. A long wooden paddle boat is in the foreground. A large river cruiser is also on the river.

Windsor Castle built by the banks of the Thames

Windsor Castle, D/EZ177/12/2


Popularity of the Thames Valley grows with further monastic houses founded at Reading, Osney and Bisham

Colour photograph of one swan and five signets on the river next to a large tree trunk.

The Crown claims ownership of all swans on the Thames and the first Swan Upping is held

Swans and cygnets, photo by Ellie Thorne


First flash locks start to appear on the river


Magna Carta is signed at Runnymede


First act passed against obstructions on the navigable highway


The Vintners’ and Dyers’ Companies granted shared rights with the Crown to swans on the river 

1605 and 1623/4

Oxford and Burcot Acts passed


Plaque reads, ‘The original pound lock at Iffley, which was built and in use by 1632, was one of the first three pound locks on the Thames. The others were at Sandford and on the swift ditch. The present Iffley Lock was built in 1923’. Text below the logo for the 'Conservators of the River Thames'.

First pound locks built on the river at Iffley, Sandford and Swift Ditch by the Oxford-Burcot Commission

Plaque at Iffley Lock , photo by Michaela Garland


Printed Act dated A.D. 1695. Title in Latin.

‘An Act to prevent Exactions of the Occupiers of Locks and Wears upon the River of Thames Westward, and for ascertaining the Rates of Water-carriage upon the said River’



Thames Navigation Commissioners formed under an Act of Parliament, with limited powers to improve the river


A plan of the River Thames from Boulter’s Lock to Mortlake. Shows Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Middlesex and Surrey.

Survey of the river undertaken by James Brindley, with proposal to bypass the river with a canal from Boulter’s Lock to Mortlake



Petitions presented to the House of Commons with proposals to improve the navigable state of the river

26 April 1771

‘Act for improving and completing the Navigation of the Rivers Thames and Isis from the City of London to the town of Cricklade in Wiltshire’ passed

9 May 1771

First meeting of the Thames Navigation Commissioners held at Henley Town Hall


Boulter’s Lock is the first lock built by the Commissioners


Colour plan of Hambledon Pound Lock showing Towing path, Eyet [island], Pound Lock, Pound House, Garden, winch, cut, meadow, Weir and Weir Lock.

Sonning, Shiplake, Marsh, Hambleden, Hurley, Temple and Marlow locks built

Hambleden Pound Lock, D/TC/J1/7/8


Small wooden houses for lock-keepers built at Sonning, Hambleden and Boulter’s Locks

Extreme flooding cuts off Oxford and washes Henley Bridge away


Black and white line drawing of a two storey house.

Brick houses for lock-keepers replace existing wooden structures

Lockhouse drawing, D/TC/C3/8/1//1


Further locks built including Mapledurham and Caversham


Commission approached the City for financial assistance towards improving the navigation


William Jessop hired to advise the Thames Commissioners on the construction of the second series of locks they intended to build


Colour photograph of Goring lock and lockhouse. Two swans and some seagulls are in the foreground.

Cleeve, Goring, Whitchurch, Benson and Day’s Locks built

Goring lockhouse, photo by Michaela Garland


St. John’s, Buscot, Rushey, Pinkhill, Godstow, and Osney (Oxford) Locks built


Thames Navigation Commission start purchasing private weirs in order to have sole control of the stream

Map of the river showing Thames Navigation Commission improvements, 1791. Map shows Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Middlesex, Berkshire and Surrey from Lechlade (Oxfordshire) to London.

John Treacher appointed as surveyor of the whole of the navigation

Map, D/EX1457/1/171


Flooding destroys or damages bridges at Wallingford, Bisham, Eton and Windsor


Steam propelled vessels start being used on the river


The first Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race is held at Henley


Black and white print engraving of Gatehampton Viaduct. Shows an arched bridge on the River Thames with three small wooden boats on the river. Four men and grazing horses are on the river bank.

Thames Navigation Commissioners unsuccessfully oppose the Great Western Railway Act

Gatehampton Viaduct designed by Brunel in 1835, D/EX2807/6/5


The first Henley Regatta is held


Act passed ‘to provide for keeping the peace on Canals and Navigable Rivers’


Reduced income due to competition from the railway means that lock-keepers’ wages are reduced

29 September 1857

Black and white circular logo with ‘Conservators of the River Thames’ around the outside edge. In the centre are two shields in front of a sceptre and an anchor with rope. The left shield has a single sword on it and a cross. The right shield has four boats and a cross on it. Above the shields, at the centre, is a crown. Below the shields is ‘MDCCCLVII’.

First Thames Conservancy Act passed and twelve Conservators appointed (Act only covered the river eastward of the London Stone at Staines)

Thames Conservancy logo, D/TC/Z1

7 October 1857

First meeting of the Conservators held at Mansion House

October 1857

Corporation of London hand over an inventory of all its machinery and stores

6 August 1866

Act transfers the Thames Navigation Commissioners’ administration to the Thames Conservancy extending their responsibilities to include the whole of the river.

Thames Navigation Commission is wound up


Pleasure punting becomes popular


Black and white circular logo with ‘The Thames Valley Drainage Commissioners 1871’ around the outside edge. In the centre is a bearded man pouring water from a large vessel beside grass in front of an elaborate domed building.

First Thames Conservancy Act passed and twelve Conservators appointed (Act only covered the river eastward of the London Stone at Staines)

Thames Drainage Commissioners logo, D/TC/J2/4/1


Thames Conservancy Act passed, required six London water companies to make additional payments for water taken from the river


Electric alarm bells were fitted to ‘all locks where there are mills’ to indicate fluctuation in the water level.


Thames Act 1883 gives Conservators powers to register all pleasure craft using the river


Thames Preservation Act 1885 passed for ‘the preservation of the River above Teddington lock for purposes of public recreation, and for regulating the pleasure traffic therein’


Black and white photograph of a large group of women aboard the Britannia river-boat on the Thames, c.1914. Most women are wearing long white dresses and straw hats. A man at the front of the boat wears a pinstripe suit and boater hat. There are two women wearing nun’s clothing. A ring on the side has ‘Britannia Reading’ printed on it.

Tolls from pleasure crafts are three times greater than from commercial vessels

Boat trip, D/EX2121/1/4

The first Goring & Streatley Regatta is held


Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat is published


Thames Conservancy Act tidies up previous legislation

High rainfall causes extreme flooding in all riverside towns


First lock-keeper’s lock garden competition

Thames Byelaws relating to navigation passed


Black and white photograph of a brick house behind a lock bridge. Flowering shrubbery surrounds the house and bridge.

The Sir Reginald Hanson Challenge Cup for lock gardens awarded for the first time

Sonning Lock (reproduced with permission of Reading Library)


1908 Olympic rowing events held at Henley

Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows is published

21 December 1908

Act transfers Thames Conservancy’s control of the river below Teddington to the Port of London Authority


All permanent lock-keepers, weir keepers and ferrymen provided with a house by the Conservators


Thames Conservancy Act passed to raise the contribution of the Metropolitan Water Board for five years Aim of act is to raise finances to undertake arrears of work accumulated during the First World War


Land Drainage Act conferred to the Conservators the power to carry out flood prevention works


Black and white photograph of two women in a small motor boat on the Thames wearing 1960s clothing. Boats and trees are in the background.

After a decline in pleasure boating since the start of the First World War the popularity of motor boats starts to increase

River Thames boat, D/EX73/3/28/58


Thames Conservancy Act passed to revise previous byelaws


The symbol of the Upper Thames Patrol depicting two overlapping circular shields with crosses on the front in the foreground, one with a sword on it and the other with sailboats on it. In the background is an anchor, rope, a sceptre and a sword. Above the shields is a crown and below is ‘U.T.P’.

Upper Thames Patrol formed to protect the river during the Second World War

Upper Thames Patrol logo, D/EGL/O166/6


Mrs M M Ashdown becomes the first woman appointed to the Thames Conservancy Board


Colour photograph of a black and white flood marker with numbers 1-4 on it on the riverside. There are two small plaques next to it. One above reads, ‘Flood Mark March 1947’ and the plaque below it reads, ‘Flood Mark Jan 2003’.

Over 4000 properties in Reading, Maidenhead and Windsor are inundated by water during a week’s long flood 

March 1947 flood level, photo by Ellie Thorne

Lock-keepers’ Welfare Committee formed with one of the first issues being the electrification of their houses


Olympic rowing events held at Henley


Rivers (Prevention of Pollution) Act passed with ‘provision for maintaining or restoring wholesomeness of rivers and other inland or coastal waters of England and Wales’


Start of programme to modernise lock-houses and ferry cottages


Line drawing of head gate. Shows mechanics and elevation of the gate.

Introduction of hydraulic control of lock gates and sluices

Hydraulic lock gates, D/TC/C3/40/15  


Water Act 1973 established water authorities with the Thames Water Authority to take the place of the Thames Conservancy from 1974


Lock-keepers compete for garden awards for the final time


Water Act 1989 established a National Rivers Authority to replace the regional authorities

A blue circular logo with 'Thames Water' at the top and water symbol at the bottom.

Thames Water Authority is privatised as Thames Water Utilities Ltd


Water Resources Act 1991 consolidates the 1989 Act


Green circular logo showing a white stick figure with arms up and leaves above it to signify a tree. 'Environment Agency' is in green font next to it.

The Environment Agency takes over management of the river with environmental issues being of paramount importance

Logo: 'Thames Path' and 'National Trail' in black capitalised font with a black acorn symbol on the right.

Thames Path opened as a National Trail


Many events including Swan Upping (for first time in 900 years) cancelled due to Covid-19

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