Molesey Lock

How is flow estimated?

EA MOLESEY Downstream graph -
EA MOLESEY Upstream graph -


from Environment Agency Guide 2012-2013

Molesey Lock

Left bank lock, tel: 0181 979 4482, length: 268'4", width: 24'10"
1802:  Proposal for lock to hold up the water over the shoals at Kenton hedge and Sundbury Flatts above.
1815:  Molesey Lock opened on 9th August.

1816: NIMBY ["Not In My BackYard"] complaint from Lady Yonge, reported by Fred Thacker in Vol 2 of his 'The Thames Highway –

Early in 1816 a complaint was received from Lady Yonge, who lived opposite the lock, characteristic of many such criticisms in those days.
The house and lands were purchased by Lady Yonge at a higher price than usual on the account of the advantage and great ornament of the River and the Parklike grounds on the opposite shore.  Since the erection of the Lock the opposite shore from being a level green to the edge of the river and a beautiful scene of pasturage is become a Bank raised a considerable height of Gravel, Chalk, etc., with the Lock House overlooking the Lawn and Walks.

1870:  Molesey Lock, Henry Taunt -

Molesey Lock, Henry Taunt, 1870
Molesey Lock, Henry Taunt, 1870
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; HT1436

1871:  Boatslides built

1880: William Morris, Putney to Kelmscott, in two boats, the 'Ark' and the 'Albert' -

Hired a man to tow and went on without incident to Kingston. Hove to for tea on the Right bank just above Kingston about 7 o'clock. During tea man and pony from Oxford arrived and took the party in tow.
Moulsey Lock was reached in twilight ...
In Moulsey Lock WM [William Morris] made an effort to light the party by means of a candle lamp with a spring in it, but unluckily the spring slipped and the candle fell into the lock whereupon WM gave vent to an emphatic "by D---" to the undisguised delight of several various parties in pleasure boats ranged along side of the lock.
On going out of Moulsey Lock the 'Ark' swayed heavily towards the weir on account of the rudder being fouled by the 'Albert'; great excitement of RCG ... at the helm but no damage.
Towed on in darkness ... up to the Magpie Inn at Sunbury which was reached at 10.15.

1883:  Weir rebuilt

1883: Molesey Lock boatslide, Henry Taunt -

Molesey Lock boatslide, Henry Taunt, 1883
Molesey Lock boatslide, Henry Taunt, 1883
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; HT4110

1889: Jerome K Jerome -

It took us some time to pass through Moulsey Lock, as we were the only boat, and it is a big lock.  I don't think I ever remember to have seen Moulsey Lock, before, with only one boat in it.
It is, I suppose, Boulter's not even excepted, the busiest lock on the river.  I have stood and watched it, sometimes, when you could not see any water at all, but only a brilliant tangle of bright blazers, and gay caps, and saucy hats, and many-coloured parasols, and silken rugs, and cloaks, and streaming ribbons, and dainty whites; when looking down into the lock from the quay, you might fancy it was a huge box into which flowers of every hue and shade had been thrown pell-mell, and lay piled up in a rainbow heap, that covered every corner.
On a fine Sunday it presents this appearance nearly all day long, while, up the stream, and down the stream, lie, waiting their turn, outside the gates, long lines of still more boats; and boats are drawing near and passing away, so that the sunny river, from the Palace up to Hampton Church, is dotted and decked with yellow, and blue, and orange, and white, and red, and pink.  All the inhabitants of Hampton and Moulsey dress themselves up in boating costume, and come and mouch round the lock with their dogs, and flirt, and smoke, and watch the boats; and, altogether, what with the caps and jackets of the men, the pretty coloured dresses of the women, the excited dogs, the moving boats, the white sails, the pleasant landscape, and the sparkling water, it is one of the gayest sights I know of near this dull old London town.
I reminded him [Harris] of George, and how we had to get the boat up to Shepperton by five o'clock to meet him ...

1889:  A S Krause -

…... favourite lounging place for those who prefer to criticise the athletic abilities of others rather than exert themselves, and on Sundays during the summer is crowded with a large and not always too select concourse of people.

1891: The Stream of Pleasure, Joseph & Elizabeth Robins Pennell -

Molesey Lock Pennell 1891
Molesey Lock, 1891, Joseph & Elizabeth Robins Pennell

It was still early Saturday afternoon when we reached Moulsey. At once we unloaded our boat and secured a room at the Castle Inn, close to the bridge and opposite that

Structure of majestic frame
Which from the neighbouring Hampton takes its name.

The rest of the day and all the next we gave to the river between Hampton and the Court. In the lock the water never rose nor fell without carrying with it as many boats as could find a place upon its surface. At the slide, where there are two rollers for the boats going up and two for those coming down, there were always parties embarking and disembarking, men in flannels pulling and pushing canoes and skiffs.
Far along the cut, boats were always waiting for the lock gates to open. And on the gates, and on both banks, and above the slide, sat rows of lookers-on, as if at a play; and the beautiful rich green of the trees, the white and coloured dresses, the really pretty women and the strong athletic men, casting gay reflections in the water, made a picture ever to be remembered.
On the road were ragged men and boys, with ropes and horses, offering to
"tow you up to Sunbury, Shepperton, Weybridge, Windsor"
and still raggeder children chattering in Romany and turning somersaults for pennies.
If we pulled up to Hampton it was to see the broad reach there
"overspread with shoals of labouring oars",
or with a fleet of sailing boats tacking from side to side - dangerous, it seemed to us, as the much hated steam launches.
Below the weir were the anglers' punts.
And up the little Mole, which
"digs through the earth the Thames to win",
the luncheon cloth was spread and the tea-kettle sang under the willows.
But however far we went, when we came back to the lock, it was only to find the same crowd, to hear the same endless grating of boats over the rollers, the same slow paddling out through the gates, the same fall of the water over the weir, and above all the other sounds, the monotonous cries of
"tow you up to Sunbury, Shepperton, Weybridge, Windsor"
All the long Sunday afternoon the numbers of boats and people never lessened, though the scene was ever varying. And when the sun sank below Moulsey Hurst, there was still the same crowd in the lock, there were still the rows of figures sitting on the banks; the men and horses on the road, the stray cycler riding towards Thames Ditton - all now, however, but so many silhouettes cut out against the strong light.

1896: Molesey Boat rollers, Francis Frith -

1896: Molesey Boat rollers, Francis Frith
1896: Molesey Boat rollers, Francis Frith

1896:  Molesey Lock, Francis Frith -

1896: Molesey Lock, Francis Frith
1896: Molesey Lock, Francis Frith

1896:  Houseboats in Molesey Lock, Francis Frith -

1896: Houseboats in Molesey Lock, Francis Frith
1896: Houseboats in Molesey Lock, Francis Frith

1900s:  Henry James -

I know of no other classic stream that is splashed about for the mere fun of it.  There is something droll and almost touching in the way that on the smallest pretext of a holiday or fine weather, the mighty population takes to the boats.

1906:  Lock rebuilt

1906:  G.E.Mitton -

Molesey Lock, just above the bridge, is a popular place in summer. All those who have come down to enjoy the fresh air, and who want an excuse for doing nothing, stand and watch the boats passing through; there is always as great a crowd on the tow-path as on the water.

Undated postcard –

Molesey Lock, undated
Molesey Lock, undated

1965:  Molesey Weir, Francis Frith -

1965:  Molesey Weir, Francis Frith
1965:  Molesey Weir, Francis Frith

2015:  Thames at Molesey Weir, Doug Myers -

2015:  Thames at Molesey Weir, Doug Myers
2015:  Thames at Molesey Weir, Doug Myers