The Tideway is the part of the River Thames in England that is subject to tides. This stretch of water is downstream from Teddington Lock and in its widest definition is just under 26 kilometres (16 mi) long. The Tideway includes the Thames Estuary, the Thames Gateway and the Pool of London.
Depending on the time of year, the river tide rises and falls twice a day by up to 7 m (24 ft) and, due to the need to overcome the outflow of fresh water from the Thames Basin, it takes longer to subside (6–9 hours) than it does to flow in (4–5 hours).
London Bridge is used as the basis for published tide tables giving the times of high tide. High tide reaches Putney about 30 minutes later.
Low-lying banks of London have been defended against natural vulnerability to flooding by storm surges. The threat has increased due to a slow but continuous rise in high water level, caused by the extremely slow 'tilting' of Britain (up in the north and down in the south) due to post-glacial rebound and the gradual rise in sea levels due to climate change.The Thames Barrier was constructed across the Thames at Woolwich to deal with this threat.
The Tideway is managed by the Port of London Authority (PLA) and is often referred to as the Port of London. The upstream limit of its authority is marked by an obelisk just short of Teddington Lock. The PLA is responsible for one lock on the Thames: Richmond Lock.
In London, the Thames is policed by the Thames Division, the river police arm of London’s Metropolitan Police. Essex Police and Kent Police have responsibilities for the rest of the Tideway. 21st century criminal investigations have included the Roberto Calvi and Torso in the Thames cases. The London Fire Brigade has a fire boat on the river.
As a result of the Marchioness disaster in 1989 when 51 people died, the Government asked the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Port of London Authority and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) to work together to set up a dedicated Search and Rescue service for the tidal River Thames. As a result, there are four lifeboat stations on the Thames, at: Teddington, Chiswick Pier, Tower Pier and Gravesend.
The river is navigable to large ocean-going ships as far as the Pool of London at London Bridge and is the United Kingdom's second largest port by tonnage.Today, little commercial traffic passes above the Thames Barrier, and central London sees only the occasional visiting cruise ship or warship moored alongside HMS Belfast, and a few smaller aggregate or refuse vessels, operating from wharves in the west of London. Most trade is handled by the Port of Tilbury, ro-ro ferry terminals at Dagenham and Dartford, and petroleum products handling facilities at Purfleet, Coryton and Canvey Island.
There is a speed limit of 8 knots (15 km/h) west of Wandsworth Bridge and in tributary creeks, and except for authorised vehicles, 12 knots (22 km/h) between Wandsworth Bridge and Margaretness.
The tidal river is used for leisure navigation. In London sections there are many sightseeing tours in tourist boats past riverside attractions such as the Houses of Parliament and the Tower of London, as well as regular riverboat services provided by London River Services. This section is not suitable for sporting activity because of the strong stream through the bridges.
Rowing has a significant presence upstream of Putney Bridge, while sailing takes place in the same area and also along the coasts of the Estuary. The annual Great River Race for traditional rowed craft takes place over the stretch from Greenwich to Ham. Thames meander challenges along the length of the Thames from Lechlade often pass through the London sections and finish well downstream, for example at Gravesend Pier.
The Grand Union Canal joins the river at Brentford, with a branch – the Regent's Canal – joining at Limehouse Basin. The other part of the canal network still connecting on the Tideway is the River Lea Navigation.
|Thames Reaches east of Westminster|
|Reach 1 Upper Pool, Lower Pool and Limehouse Reach|
|Reach 2 Limehouse, Greenwich and Blackwall Reach|
|Reach 3 Bugsby’s and Woolwich Reach|
|Reach 4 Gallions and Barking Reach|
|Reach 5 Halfway and Erith Reach|
|Reach 6 Erith Reach, Erith Rands and Long Reach|
|Reach 7 Long Reach and Fiddler’s Reach|
|Reach 8 Northfleet Hope|
|Reach 9 Gravesend Reach|
|Reach 10 The Lower Hope|
|Reach 11 Sea Reach|
Narrow low-lying belts beside the tidal section of the Thames regularly flood at spring tides, supporting brackish plants. One such example is at Chiswick Lane South, where the river, as pictured, overflows this road a few times per year. (Picture taken in 2006).
Although water quality has improved over the last 40 years and efforts to clean up the Tideway have led to the reintroduction of marine life and birds, the environment of the Tideway is still poor. Heavier rainfall in London causes overflows from pipes on the river banks from the standard type of sewer in the capital, the combined sewer. Around 39,000,000 m3 (3.9×1010 l) or 39 million tonnes of untreated sewage mixed with rainwater are released into the Tideway each year from sewage treatment works and combined sewer overflows (CSOs), averaging 106,849 m3 (106,849,000 l) per day or 106,849 tonnes per day. These CSOs can cause the deaths of marine life and health hazards for river users.
The Thames Tideway Scheme, under construction, aims to divert most of the overflow from sewers into a tunnel under the river.
The Thames Estuary is bordered by the coast and the low-lying lands upstream between the mouth of the River Stour on the Essex/Suffolk border and The Swale in north Kent. It is now usually designated the Greater Thames Estuary and is one of the largest inlets on the coast of Great Britain. The water can rise by 4 metres moving at a speed of 8 miles per hour.
The estuary extends into London near Tower Bridge, and can be divided into the Outer Estuary up to the Swale at the west end of the Isle of Sheppey, and the Inner Estuary, designated the Thames Gateway above this point. The shore of the Outer Estuary consists of saltmarshes and mudflats, but there are man-made embankments along much of the route. Behind these, the land is cultivated or used for grazing. Parts of the Outer Estuary are on a major shipping route.
The Gateway is some 70 kilometres (43 mi) long, stretching from the Isle of Sheppey to Westferry in Tower Hamlets. Its boundary was drawn to capture the riverside strip that formerly hosted many land extensive industries, serving London and the South East. The decline of these industries has left a legacy of large scale dereliction and contaminated land, but an opportunity for major redevelopment. The area includes the London Docklands, Millennium Dome, London Riverside and Thames Barrier.
The Pool of London is divided into two parts, the Lower Pool and Upper Pool. The Lower Pool traditionally runs from the Cherry Garden Pier in Rotherhithe to Tower Bridge. The Upper Pool consists of the section between Tower Bridge and London Bridge. In the 18th and 19th centuries the river was lined with nearly continuous walls of wharves running for miles along both banks, and hundreds of ships moored in the river or alongside the quays. The lack of capacity in the Pool of London prompted landowners to build London's Docklands with enclosed docks with better security and facilities. The abrupt collapse of commercial traffic in the Thames due to the introduction of shipping containers and coastal deep-water ports in the 1960s emptied the Pool and led to all of the wharves being closed down. The Lower Pool area was extensively redeveloped in the 1980s and 1990s to create new residential and commercial neighbourhoods, often using converted warehouses. In the Upper Pool this provided scope for office development in the City of London and Southwark.
Between London Bridge and Putney Bridge, the river passes through Central London and some of the most famous landmarks.
|North Bank||South Bank|
| Monument |
St Paul's Cathedral
Charing Cross railway station
Norman Shaw Buildings
Houses of Parliament
| Southwark Cathedral |
St Saviour's Dock
Royal National Theatre
Royal Festival Hall
County Hall, London
St Thomas' Hospital
Battersea Power Station
River boats carry tourists up down and across the river, and also provide a regular commuter service.
(culverted tributaries largely converted to sewers are marked ‡)
From Putney Bridge to Teddington Lock, the river passes through inner and outer suburbs such as Hammersmith, Chiswick, Barnes, Richmond on Thames and Ham. This part of the Tideway is home to most of London's rowing clubs, and is the venue for training and racing throughout the year. The Championship Course over which The Boat Race and many other events are run, stretches from Putney to Mortlake.
The River Thames, known alternatively in parts as the Isis, is a river that flows through southern England including London. At 215 miles (346 km), it is the longest river entirely in England and the second-longest in the United Kingdom, after the River Severn.
The Port of London Authority (PLA) is a self-funding public trust established on 31 March 1909 in accordance with the Port of London Act 1908 to govern the Port of London. Its responsibility extends over the Tideway of the River Thames and its continuation. It maintains and supervises navigation, and protects the river's environment.
Sir Joseph William Bazalgette, CB was a 19th-century English civil engineer. As chief engineer of London's Metropolitan Board of Works his major achievement was the creation of a sewer network for central London which was instrumental in relieving the city from cholera epidemics, while beginning to clean the River Thames.
The English River Thames is navigable from Cricklade or Lechlade to the sea, and this part of the river falls 71 meters (234 feet). There are 45 locks on the river, each with one or more adjacent weirs. These lock and weir combinations are used for controlling the flow of water down the river, most notably when there is a risk of flooding, and provide for navigation above the tideway.
Richmond Lock and Footbridge is a lock, rising and falling low-tide barrage integrating controlled sluices and pair of pedestrian bridges on the River Thames in south west London, England and is a Grade II* listed structure. It is the furthest downstream of the forty-five Thames locks and the only one owned and operated by the Port of London Authority. It was opened in 1894 and is north-west of the centre of Richmond in a semi-urban part of south-west London. Downstream are Syon Park and Kew Gardens on opposite banks. It connects the promenade at Richmond with the neighbouring district of St. Margarets on the west bank during the day and is closed at night to pedestrians – after 19:30 GMT or after 21:30 when BST is in use. At high tide the sluice gates are raised and partly hidden behind metal arches forming twin footbridges.
Teddington Lock is a complex of three locks and a weir on the River Thames between Ham and Teddington in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, England. It was first built in 1810.
The Thames Estuary is where the River Thames meets the waters of the North Sea, in the south-east of Great Britain.
The stretch of the River Thames between Mortlake and Putney in London, England is a well-established course for rowing races, most famously the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. It is often referred to as The Championship Course. The course is on the tidal reaches of the river often referred to as the Tideway. Due to the iconic shape of the Championship Course, in orthopaedic surgery, an "S" shaped incision along the crease of the elbow is commonly referred to as "a boat-race incision resembling the River Thames from Putney to Mortlake."
Stamford Brook was a tributary of the Tideway stretch of the River Thames in west London supplied by three headwaters. Historically used as an irrigation ditch or dyke the network of small watercourses had four lower courses and mouths.
Barnes railway station is a Grade II listed station in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, in southwest London, and is in Travelcard Zone 3. It is 7 miles 7 chains (11.4 km) down the line from London Waterloo. The station and all trains serving it are operated by South Western Railway.
The Thames Path is a National Trail following the River Thames from its source near Kemble in Gloucestershire to the Thames Barrier at Charlton, south east London. It is about 184 miles (296 km) long. A path was first proposed in 1948 but it only opened in 1996.
The Thames Conservancy was a historical body responsible for the management of the River Thames in England. It was founded in 1857, initially replacing the jurisdiction of the City of London up to Staines and later taking responsibility for the whole river from Cricklade in Wiltshire to the sea at Yantlet Creek on the Isle of Grain. Responsibilities were reduced when the Tideway was transferred to the Port of London Authority in 1909 and in 1974 the Conservancy was taken into the Thames Water Authority.
Chiswick Eyot is a 3.266-acre (1.3 ha) narrow, uninhabited ait in the River Thames. It is a tree- and reed-covered rise on the Tideway by Chiswick, in the Borough of Hounslow, London, England and is overlooked by St Nicholas Church, Chiswick, the Mall of Hammersmith and by some of the Barnes riverside on the far bank. Excluding tidal mudflats and sandbanks, it is the most downstream island purely on the Thames itself.
Molesey Lock is a lock on the River Thames in England at East Molesey, Surrey on the right bank.
The River Thames is one of the main rowing areas in England, with activity taking place on the Tideway and on the 45 separate lock reaches on the non-tidal section. The river hosts two major rowing events, The Boat Race and Henley Royal Regatta, and many other regattas and long distance events take place on the river. Dorney Lake in Buckinghamshire was opened specifically as a rowing lake besides the Thames, and has become the venue for a few events that formerly took place on the river. Other lakes adjacent to the Thames are the Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Lake and Royal Albert Dock. Rowing, or sculling, includes skiffing, dinghy racing and cutter racing in which the boats are also propelled by blades.
Sailing on the River Thames is practised on both the tidal and non-tidal reaches of the river. The highest club upstream is at Oxford. The most popular sailing craft used on the Thames are lasers, GP14s, Wayfarers and Enterprises. One sailing boat unique to the Thames is the Thames Rater, which is sailed around Raven's Ait.
Swan Island is a small, privately owned island in the River Thames at Twickenham, in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, London, England. It is situated on the Tideway about 3⁄4 mile (1.2 km) downstream of Teddington Lock.
Brentford Ait is a long 4.572-acre (1.9 ha) uninhabited ait in the River Thames, with no buildings, on the Tideway near Brentford in London, England.