Penton Hook Lock

How is flow estimated?

EA PENTON HOOK LOCK Downstream graph -
EA PENTON HOOK LOCK Upstream graph -

  Environment Agency Guide 2012-2013

Penton Hook Lock

Right Bank lock, tel: 01784 452657, length 266'8", width: 24'10"

1992: Skyscan's Aerial View of Penton Hook in The Secret Thames -

Penton Hook
Skyscan's Aerial View of Penton Hook.

1774:  Floods kept cutting through the narrow neck of land where the lock now is.

Raising a bank at Pentanhook to prevent the floods cutting through


A barge has passed through the breach, which may be totally carried away by the next flood to the great injury of the navigation westward

1803:  Tatham – the neck only fifty yards across.
1809:  Rennie suggested a lock here.
1815:  Penton Hook Lock opened.  The basin of the lock gave great trouble to the engineers;  it was found almost impossible to prevent the water from flooding it.  There was at first no weir.

1843: Puntwreck! Bentley's Miscellany -

Those acquainted with the course of the Thames from London to Windsor may remember that Penton Hook is a piece of land between Staines and Laleham, which turns the river into a narrow and sudden curve, cut off from the shore by the lock; whilst the main body of water flows round it with brawling rapidity on a sharp descent, forming a natural weir.
Some strong piles are fixed at the head of the rapid, to keep the large craft from being drawn into the current, and, about half way round the Hook, it gives off a small stream, called the Abbey river, which formerly washed the foundations of Chertsey monastery, one of the most powerful mitred religious houses of its time.
The worn-out boat, carrying the two fugitives, was now being drifted by the turbulent river towards this point; and the roar of the water, as it dashed between the head-piles of the lock, became fearfully louder and louder. Johnson kept at the head of the boat, or rather at whichever part of it went first, as it was whirled about in the eddies, and attempted to throw a little more light around them from the miserable candle in the old lantern they had brought with them. And Morris, anticipating the swamping of the punt, which appeared inevitable, had risen from his seat; and, having thrown off his cloak, prepared to reach the land as he best might, when the catastrophe should arrive. Sometimes the boat neared the shore so closely that its edge grated against the rough stones of the embankment; but, before either of them could hold on, it had turned round again, and was once more in the middle of the deep and rapid channel.
Johnson had plainly discerned the dark forms of the head-piles stretching across the river, towards which they were now hurrying, and in another instant the punt was borne against the foremost one with a violent shock, that threw them both from their feet, and partly stove in the side, at the same time knocking down the lantern, and extinguishing the light; but they immediately recovered their position, and endeavoured to cling to the iron-work of the standards, and arrest the progress of the boat.
The power of the water was, however, too much for them; and, turning round the side of the piles, the punt rushed with fearful violence down the fall, and into the centre of the rapids below the weir, the water pouring in everywhere through the crevices of its battered sides. Swift as had been their passage before, it was now increased tenfold, as they grated successively over the stones of the shallows, or glided swiftly onward in the deep water, amidst the masses of ice which were floating everywhere on the surface of the current. ...

[ They survived! ]

1846:  Weir built.

The lock keeper’s son, Stephen Taylor planted the vine and fruit trees, sunk the well and built the dairy, besides papering the parlour

[Sounds like a Victorian Music Hall cue for a song ...]
1852: A trespassers' sign was erected -

The idle and disorderly of Staines and Laleham are frequenting the lock island on Sundays

1870: Penton Hook Lock, Henry Taunt -

Penton Hook Lock, Henry Taunt,1870
Penton Hook Lock, Henry Taunt,1870
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; HT1478

1880: William Morris, Putney to Kelmscot -

Wednesday Aug 11th 1880
[William Morris] fished at 6.a.m. caught one gudgeon and one small dace, WM, DM & Price bathed also RCG at 8.30.
Started at 10 o'clock: towed on without incident to Penton Hook Lock. Hove to just above the Lock for dinner at 1.30; weather very fine and hot. DM & WM shied at their food.
Started again about 2.30 towed on to Runnymede calling at Staines for soda water, ginger beer & milk.

1881:  George Leslie, "Our River" -

Penton Hook has a beauty of its own;  the willows grow gracefully and rather thin, reminding one a little of the landscapes in early Italian pictures.  There is nothing remarkable in the way of scenery below here until you reach Richmond, the situation of which is naturally so grand that I believe no amount of building could spoil it.

1889: Jerome K Jerome -

George got the line right after a while, and towed us steadily on to Penton Hook.  There we discussed the important question of camping.  We had decided to sleep on board that night, and we had either to lay up just about there, or go on past Staines.   It seemed early to think about shutting up then, however, with the sun still in the heavens, and we settled to push straight on for Runnymead, three and a half miles further, a quiet wooded part of the river, and where there is good shelter.  -
We all wished, however, afterward that we had stopped at Penton Hook.  Three or four miles up stream is a trifle, early in the morning, but it is a weary pull at the end of a long day.  You take no interest in the scenery during these last few miles.  You do not chat and laugh.  Every half-mile you cover seems like two.  You can hardly believe you are only where you are, and you are convinced that the map must be wrong; and, when you have trudged along for what seems to you at least ten miles, and still the lock is not in sight, you begin to seriously fear that somebody must have sneaked it, and run off with it.

1909:  Penton Hook Lock rebuilt.

1920:  Fred Thacker – I have never heard what particular station Dickens intended by “Plashwater Weir Lock” in "Our Mutual Friend".  It seems to me, from internal evidence, that it was possibly Penton Hook;  though Sunbury, from its proximity to Watersplash Farm, may also be in the competition. …
1864: Charles Dickens, from "Our Mutual Friend" -

Plashwater Weir-Mill Lock looked tranquil and pretty on an evening in the summer time.  A soft air stirred the leaves of the fresh green trees and passed like a smoother shadow over the yielding grass.  The voice of the falling water, like the voices of the sea and wind, was an outer memory to a contemplative listener.
'Lock, ho!  Lock!'
It was an amateur sculler, well up to his work though taking it easily.
The lock-keeper worked at his windlass handles and sluices, to let the sculler in.
the latter stood in his boat, holding on by a boat-hook to the woodwork at the lock side, waiting for the gates to open.
The creaking lock-gates opened slowly, and the light boat passed in as soon as there was room enough, and the creaking lock-gates closed upon it, and it floated low down in the dock between the two sets of gates, until the water should rise and the second gates should open and let it out.
The water rose and rose as the sluice poured in, dispersing the scum which had formed behind the lumbering gates, and sending the boat up, so that the sculler gradually rose like an apparition against the light.
But there was the toll to be taken, as the gates were now complaining and opening. He tossed it ashore, twisted in a piece of paper, then rowed past a line of wooden objects by the weir which showed like huge teetotums standing at rest in the water, and was almost hidden by the drooping boughs on the Right bank, as he rowed away, keeping out of the opposing current.

1920: Fred Thacker -

Penton Hook Lock is, except Teddington, and perhaps Boulter’s, the largest on the river.  The first time I ever saw it was in flood time in the spring of 1910;  coming unexpectedly upon handsome old Myhill in charge of it, whom I knew well at far off Hambledon.  He was moved hither about 1907-8.  I thought he looked more than ever saturnine;  having added to his natural air of admiralty a still profounder aspect of austerity with which not the most truculent bargemen of them all would successfully have trifled.  He seemed even cosier here than there, surrounded with white crooning doves and little lawns and orchard:  Myhill; with whom royalty, they say, would once step ashore and converse.

1934: Penton Hook Lock, Francis Frith -

1934: Penton Hook Lock, Francis Frith
1934: Penton Hook Lock, Francis Frith

1955: Penton Hook Lock, Francis Frith -

1955: Penton Hook Lock, Francis Frith
1955: Penton Hook Lock, Francis Frith

Site of Savory’s Weir

1/2 mile above Penton Hook Lock
1761:  Rocque’s Map -  “Savory’s Weir”
1770:  Brindley’s map – “Fisher House”
1920:  Fred Thacker – House called “The Fishing Temple”.  The spot was subsequently used as a coaling wharf;  and later still as a charging station for the Immisch Launches, before they occupied Platt’s Ait.

Truss’s Island Slipway, LEFT bank

This is a small riverside park with a public slipway to the River Thames. There is a fishing facility for the disabled.
[See Google map and Streetview above.]

Slipway, Truss's Island
Slipway, Truss's Island

Rushbed Hill

NB "hill" is often used on the river to denote a shallower section upstream

Windsor’s Paygate

Carl Douglas Boathouse

Left bank below Staines Railway Bridge, Racing Rowing Boats and fittings