The PLA Chart of Teddington Lock
How is flow estimated?
The Environment Agency normally cap abstraction so that Teddington Lock has a minimum of 800 Million Litres a day (9.3m³ a second)
In extreme drought conditions this can be reduced to 600; 400; and then 300 ML/day (3.5m³/sec)
To see how extreme this measure is: at 300 ML/day the Barge lock would take 1005 seconds (16 minutes and 45 seconds) of the total flow to fill
You can see the fill time now in the diagram below. (These are the EA freshwater gauge readings which may ignore tidal effects).
Freshwater Thames online flow summary -
For the downstream levels which are tidal please see tideway online.
Flow data (Kingston).
Mean flow at Teddington: 65.409 m3/sec;
high flow exceeded 10% of the time (Q10%) is 161 m3/sec;
low flow exceeded 95% of the time (Q95%) is 7.54 m3/sec;
The 1894 flood is now thought to have had a peak of 805m3/sec
London's water consumption is said to be about 23m3/sec - which will therefore be the approximate average intake from the river. This is almost exactly the Q70% figure (22.3m3/sec). This is above the total flow some of the time and therefore reservoirs are absolutely necessary.
Left bank, length: 650', width 24'9"
John Leyland -
Here, then, the life of the locks begins. All know the deep green coolness in the summer time, the bubbling and eddying of the water when the sluices are drawn, the dancing of the skiffs, the shouts of the brown-armed oarsmen, the rippling laughter from pretty lips, the gaiety of costume, the witty sallies and merry rejoinders, all the sights and sounds of the locks of the Thames.
Fred Thacker wrote -
[Teddington is] absurdly derived from "Tide End Town"; before the lock was built even the weakest tides must have been felt, at least before the time of the bridges, many miles higher.
He was probably refering to Rudyard Kipling's "The River's Tale"
I walk my beat before London Town,
Five hours up and seven down.
Up I go till I end my run
At Tide-end-town, which is Teddington.
Although Teddington is normally regarded as the upstream tidal limit, high spring tides can raise the head water level in the reach above Teddington and can reduce, or on occasions even reverse, the flow for a short period. In these circumstances tidal effects are observed upstream as far as Molesey Weir.
1775: Stops were put down "to controul the current so as to form one certain navigable channel: frequently near 20 barges were stop’d there at one time.”
1811: Teddington Lock opened on June 20th.
The first recorded weir at Teddington was constructed in 1812.
It consisted of an overfall with a central rymer weir controlled by hand paddles.
A rymer weir is a simple form of variable geometry weir
consisting of fixed horizontal beams which support vertical timber posts
to form a series of rectangular openings.
The openings may be partially or totally closed by means of timber gates
fixed to the end of long poles - the combined gate and pole is referred to as a paddle -
which may be inserted or removed by hand.
For rymer weirs see Medley Weir site and Northmoor Lock
1818: Robbery! Lock keeper's statement –
Tedding'n Lock 28/3/1818
... It has always been customary with me to rise at dawn of day, because in general ye barges move from Richmond then, & often do before if the moon shines till day. & this was the case on ye 20th early. I rose at just past 4 & was employed in the office arranging some small matters before ye craft came, when I heard a man’s voice calling.
I open’d one of the shutters & saw a man standing about ½ way between my window & the lower gate, and he pointed with his hand and said “Here’s a Trow coming”. I had no doubt in my own mind but that the Trow was very near, & as the wind blew hard & right into the pound it was highly necessary the gates should be opened & ready.
I now took my hat & was going out but the inst I open’d the door a stout fellow rushed in & seized me by the throat. While we were struggling in came 2 more & one of them had something in his hand resembling ½ a sack. I was thrown with violence over a chair and we both came rolling to ye ground & then I felt one of them cover my head & press it so close down that I really began to fear they meant to suffocate me. They soon succeeded in getting the cloth close on my head again.
The 3rd man that I heard busy opening ye desks & ye cupboard in which I deposit my change called out to the men that held me “If the old buggar won’t be quiet stick it into him”. ... I now began to argue a little, with a mouth almost full of blood, with the man that held me, that if they were men not savages they would not ill treat one old man.
At this Inst. I heard Mrs. S. step from her bed on the floor over our heads and one said “Tom go and see who that is moving about up stairs”, but I said “It’s only my old dame”.
They then took my keys from my coat pocket by rolling me over, and having broke every lock and emptied every small box of Mrs. S. in the other room they all ran out leaving me locked in & in darkness.
By their bad discourse I must think them bargemen of lowest class.
I had about 11 or 12 single pound notes & full six pounds silver and ye most part sml silver & 4 or 5 shillings in copper. I do indeed much fear that this is only ye beginning, for which ever lock receives much value it will be a temptation to such villians to make an attempt at ye end of ye week …
Bell's Weekly Messenger, No.1839, Sunday, July 3, 1831. Old Bailey -
The June session for London and Middlesex
commenced on Thursday morning before Mr. Justice James Parke, Mr. Justice
Gaselee, the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, &c.
William Young was indicted for breaking and entering the dwelling-house of Robert Gordon, and stealing a side of bacon and other articles.
The prisoner has for many years been known in the neighbourhood of Hounslow as a desperate fellow. He was also concerned in the Teddington Lock-house robbery, which, it will be recollected, occurred about two years ago, and which at the time created a great sensation. He then saved his life by turning King's evidence, and his brother-in-law and some other men were convicted on his testimony at the Kingston Assizes, and afterwards executed for the offence at Horsemonger lane gaol.
From all that transpired the prisoner was the guiltiest party, and this led to his being prosecuted for other burglaries. He defended himself by saying that the King's pardon absolved him from all former crimes; but the evidence not warranting a conviction, he was acquitted without the question which he raised having been decided.
It appeared in evidence that the bacon was found under the prisoner’s bed, and the prisoner had the jacket on when taken into custody.
Mr. Justice James Parke having summed up the evidence, the Jury found the prisoner Guilty.
The prosecution evidence in the Old Bailey report comprised some fifty lines.
The defence comprised three words: "I am innocent".
The sentence on William Young, aged 32, was DEATH. At the time of the Teddington Lock robbery he was about 19.
1825: Teddington Lock badly needed repair
1827: Teddington Weir "blown up by ice"
1830: Following other robberies, the lock keepers were allowed a blunderbuss and a bayonet, a brace of pistols and ammunition and also a horn for powder.
1831: the removal of the old London Bridge lowered the depth at Teddington some 2 ft. 6ins. The old bridge had 19 arches and held back like a weir, the fall being sometimes six feet or more. See London Bridge
1835: There are three pairs of gates.
1836: Tombleson -
Teddington Lock 1836, Tombleson
1837: The New sporting magazine -
BARBEL-FISHING IN THE THAMES. TEDDINGTON LOCK.
Engraved by J. W. ARCHER, from a Drawing by J. JACKSON. 
IT is scarcely necessary to inform any person acquainted with the localities
of Teddington lock, that the above named view is sketched from Nature.
The figures in the nearest punt are portraits.
The gentleman wearing the travelling cap, who has a bite, is an angler well known at Teddington for his skill in barbel fishing, and to the Hampton Court coachmen from the numerous baskets of fish which he sends to London during the season as presents to his "friends", - who never fail to thank him openly for his dish of "delightful barbel", and to rate him soundly behind his back for putting them to the expence of carriage for "a parcel of good-for-nothing fish that are not even fit to give to the cats".
The fisherman who holds the landing net ready to introduce the "bearded gentleman" to the company in the punt, is old Kemp, "a very nice man for a small angling party", and as decent a fellow to hire a punt of as any in Teddington.
The tall gentleman in the light coloured fishing jacket is Mr. Green, the friend of the proficient at the other end of the punt, who has come out on special invitation to enjoy a day's sport. He has his Mackintosh prudently hung over the back of his chair for fear of rain ; he has pulled up his line lest it should become entangled with his friend's ; and he is sitting in a state of nervous apprehension of Kemp's bringing the net up with a sweep and depositing the barbel in his lap, and thus unpleasantly moistening his white " drills." ...
The little cottage, which appears like a fishing house on the banks of the river, has been pulled down since the engraver began the plate. The view is taken from the lock on the Surrey side, and to the left is perceived the weir, which extends across the river.
1843: A small steam vessel was refused passage though the owner declared “it makes no more swell than one of your skiffs”.
1849: Rambles by Rivers: The Thames By James Thorne -
From Kingston the Thames flows on pleasantly
enough to Teddington, a little quiet out-of-the-way
village that has remained for the last quarter of a
century unaltered, while every other place around it has been in course of constant mutation. Somehow
it appeared to get, year by year, more isolated :
neither railway nor pier came nigh it, hardly a new
house was erected in it or an old one modernized,
and the fields remained unencroached upon by cot or villa.
Within the last few months, however, a railway has been brought within a mile or two of it, but whether it will effect any change remains to be seen. It is the last thoroughly rural sequestered village we shall find on this side of London.
A few anglers repair thither during the fishing-season, and it is the halting-place of a good many pleasure-parties, who "in sweet summer time" row their boats as far as the lock : but else its quiet is little disturbed even by visitors.
The village contains, with many little shops, some good houses. The church is a brick building of small pretensions and little beauty. Teddington lock is the first on the Thames, and the tide, which flows but feebly for some miles lower, is here finally arrested. The little village, with the broad sheet of foaming water that rushes over the weir, looks extremely pretty from the river.
1852: Barges still grounding
in lock due to the removal of the old London Bridge
1864: Fish ladders added to weir
1866: The accumulation of sewage above the lock was "six inches thick, and as black as ink".
1868: A tide in September rose so high that it floated the weir paddles away.
1870: The weir burst in December.
1871: Weir rebuilt
1872: There is a boatslide
1877: The weir burst again with enormous damage.
1880: William Morris, Putney to Kelmscott -
The Ark was rowed by two of Biffen's men:
one a boy, the other a bad case of chronic poisoning, his eyes were gogglesome probably because of gin)
and the Alfred by WM & Price as far as Kew where both boats were made fast to some barges and towed by a
mercantile tin kettle as far as Twickenham.
Rowed on as far as Teddington Lock where Biffen's men were dismissed. Hired a man to tow and went on without incident to Kingston.
1883: Daily hydrometric records began when headwater and tailwater readings were first established.
... By then the capacity of Teddington Weir had been increased considerably with the addition of deep sill sluices.
1883: Teddington Lock, Henry Taunt -
Teddington Lock, Henry Taunt, 1883
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; HT04122
Lantern Slide (1883-1908) - Teddington Lock
Pictures by W.C.Hughes. Thanks to Pat Furley, research by Dr Wilson.
1890: Teddington Weir, Francis Frith -
1890: Teddington Weir, Francis Frith
1890: Teddington, Anglers’ Hotel and River, Francis Frith -
1890: Teddington, Anglers’ Hotel and River, Francis Frith
[By 1898] the weir was further enlarged with the addition of overfalls and hand paddles.
1899: Teddington Lock and Rollers, Francis Frith -
1899: Teddington Lock and Rollers, Francis Frith
1904: Double lock opened.
1906: During an exceptionally high tide on 12th March "so full was the stream at Teddington that a tug was carried through the lock without the gates being opened."
In 1923 a sharp-crested weir was constructed on part of the original overfall,
specifically to measure low flows.
In 1931 the low flow thin-plate weir was reconstructed on a new line adjacent to the RIGHT bank, and, at the same time, two additional deep sill roller sluices were added. The whole sill of the gauge weir which consists of a 21.34m wide sharp crested plate, can be moved manually up or down within a limited range in order to discharge a quantity of water whilst maintaing a desired level in the reach.
1941: The Thames Disappears! This story was submitted by Garry Lloyd, a CSV volunteer, on behalf of Mick Pitt, to 'WW2 People's War' which is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar
It was a warm, sunny Sunday around 1941, and the French windows were open at our home in Kingston,
Surrey overlooking the river Thames. With no air raid warning there was a sudden bang.
I was 12 years-old and my mother, in the kitchen, vexedly called to my father: “What’s he doing now?” She meant me, and I was doing nothing but waiting for my lunch. From our windows we could see a pall of smoke over Teddington Lock, a few hundred yards downriver, where the Thames becomes tidal. Teddington means tide-end town. We quickly realized it was a bomb.
So blasé had the family become about bombs (a hundred fell on our neighbourhood of Ham, so one more could wait) my parents made me sit down to lunch before I was allowed out to investigate. Neither they, nor my elder brother, bothered to leave the house. But curiosity took me to the Lock.
It was astonishing. The river was alive with dinghies and people, surrounded by hundreds of dead fish. They were pulling them from the water - many measuring some two feet - and offering them for sale, supposedly to benefit the War Charity which funded, among other things, aid to our Russian allies.
The cause of this impromptu fish market was a stick of bombs, dropped by a German plane, on the Lock. Three or four had fallen into the river without exploding, but one had hit the weir island, destroying it and the sluice gates which controlled the flow at this crucial spot where the Thames becomes tidal. A torrent was pouring over the smashed weir, and concussion of the explosion had killed the fish.
When the entrepreneurial trade had subsided I went home to bed, and my father to work on nightshift at the Leyland factory, a few hundred yards upriver from our home, where they built Cromwell tanks.
I awoke when he arrived home in the morning to hear him tell the family in amazed tones: “the river’s gone!” We got up to cross the green outside our front windows and stared in amazement. The Thames had disappeared. There was nothing but a tiny rivulet trickling between its broad banks.
Off came my socks and shoes and I walked across its bed, some 70 yards, to the Middlesex side. I was soon joined by scores of other sightseers, instant beachcombers of treasures at our feet. There were numerous handbags and handfuls of cash which had fallen, over the years, out of skiffs, rowing boats and punts which recreationally used the river.
Revolvers and rifles were also recovered, and beneath Kingston Bridge an empty safe, believed to have been dumped after a successful robbery. I came home with a typewriter, much to my parents’ disgust. Apart from its soiled and rusted condition none of us could type.
From Hampton Court Lock to Richmond, moored boats had been toppled and damaged, and though the daily tides rose and fell below Teddington Lock, sections upriver remained dry for weeks before the sluices were rebuilt. The bomb had destroyed part of the central island. The river was no longer navigable for wartime barges carrying coal and materials up to Oxford.
Petrol rationing had turned the Thames into a major highway and Vospers boatyards upriver at Walton, where they built motor torpedo boats (MTBs), could not dispatch their craft to the Royal Navy until the river was brought back to life. Not a word of the Thames’s humiliation ever appeared in the newspapers. Wartime security, denying the enemy satisfaction of publicity, saw to that.
In 1950, the remaining sections of the overfall and rymer type weir, dating from 1883 were replaced by radial-type gates.
1955: Teddington Lock, Francis Frith -
1955: Teddington Lock, Francis Frith
At the present time, the weir consists of 34 radial gates, 37 sluice gates (including the two large roller sluices) and the sharp crested weir, and has an overall effective width of about 222 metres.
Report on Endocrine Disruption in Catchments contains this gem:
The non-tidal catchment of the Thames (upstream of Teddington Weir) contains 4.06 million
people and with an annual average runoff of 245 mm giving a mean daily flow of 78 m cubic meters.
Thus, on average only 1.66 cubic meters of water is available to dilute an individual's daily waste.
(Williams et al. 2009).
Despite this, about 55% of the total effective rainfall in the Thames catchment is used for public supply, compared to 25% in other UK regions (Evans et al. 2003)
Typically 40% of the flow at Teddington is comprised of sewage effluent in summer, but this can rise to 73% in very dry summers (Kinniburgh et al. 1997)
1999: In a punt I found this section a little difficult
due to wash bouncing off the vertical banks (gently
sloping banks cause the wash to break and absorb its energy, whilst hard
vertical banks simply reflect it back) – but the punting was not too bad, the
natural punting line being 12 to 15 feet deep.
1881: George Leslie took his punt right down to Hammersmith in the 1870s. I would not like to try that today -
My punt squeezed through the little slip of a lock at Teddington, and floated for her first time on tidal waters. As we got below the bridge at Richmond the tide turned against us, and large strings of barges, towed by ugly black tugs, met us in stately procession, coming up from the great city below. My poor little punt seemed sadly out of her element in the dirty stream; and I towed along as well as I could until the tall withies broke my line, and then I had to resume the pole. I did not relish punting in the foul water, and the bottom was by no means good; and to my delight, on turning out of Sion Reach, the wind though slight was fair, so I set sail, and came up to Maynard’s Yard in very fine style about two o’clock.