1910: Boulter's Lock in Thames Villages by Charles Harper.
The Thames Path - Boulters Lock to Caversham from FoxysIslandWalks
Left bank lock, tel: 01628 624205, length: 199'6", width: 21'3"
Boulter’s Inn on Boulter's Island which is connected to Ray Mill Island
1346: William atte Raye of Reyelond is assigned Ray Mill (and therefore weir)
1392: Ray Mill jointly owned by Thomas Cruchefield
1580: Bishop – mentions a flash lock, Rea Locke belonging to Harry Merry one of the Yeomen of the Chamber, kept by Robert Weston.
1637: Plan. Copied by Fred Thacker, 1920 –
Boulters in 1637
1746: Griffiths –
It apears there is no lock on this river from London Bridge till you come to Bolter’s Lock, which is 51 miles and a half” (Less now!)
1772: Boulter’s Pound Lock opened at Michaelmas. It was on the Right bank near Taplow Mill. The Lock was for barges up to 130 feet x 18 feet drawing up to 3 feet. The ancient winch might be removed by the tenant of Winch Meadow provided it would be replaced at the Commissioners cost if it was required. The winch was at the head of the present lot cut on the lock island.
1773: An Irish member of the footguards complained about the bargees’ language and behaviour. The crews were continually trespassing in the woods and walks, and destroying shrubs and trees; and “very much misbehaved themselves by their indecent conversation and horrid oaths and imprecations”. [Which being translated means they needed to relieve themselves, collect wood for cooking, and told him what to do when he objected?]
1780: The pound lock “in as bad a state as Marlow if not worse”.
1792: Phillips, Inland Navigation –
The water above the lock appears to be about five feet deep, but below, the vast force of water coming down from such an unmechanical lock, has worked or dug a hole of twenty feet perpendicular depth, and above one hundred feet in length; beyond which rises a hill thrown up by the great force of the current, where the bed of the river has little more than three feet depth of water.
1794: Report of a survey of the river Thames between Reading and Isleworth ... John Rennie (the Elder)
The fall between the tail of Marlow Lock and the head of Boulter's Lock, when the water is at a full pen,
is now six feet seven inches, and which will be reduced in the reaches as follows:- namely,
by the new pound lock at Marlow, seventeen inches will be saved;
by the pound lock at Hedsor, two feet three inches, making together three feet eight inches; which, deducted from the former, leaves still two feet eleven inches for a fall between Marlow and Boulter's Lock, of which ten inches lie between the tail of the proposed lock, and that of Boulter's.
If the shallows in this short reach are sufficiently deepened, and the pen at Boulter's kept full, there will be little stoppage here; and should the Commissioners chuse to establish a dam above Cookham, with proper sluices to let the water off in flood times, it might pen quite up to Marlow Lock; and the navigation between Boulter's and Marlow would be as good as any other part in this district of the Thames.
But should no such weir or dam be established, and the lower sill of Marlow new lock laid sufficiently low, I am inclined to think few obstructions will be experienced here.
[Surveying downstream,] beginning then at Boulter's Lock, I found the pen nineteen inches and a half under the gauge-mark, there were then four feet 6 inches on the upper sill, and three feet and half an inch on the lower sill, and there were about two inches less in the tail-cut, or channel below, than in the lock.
The lower sill of the lock should be sunk about eighteen inches, the shoals from thence to Love Grove's Fishing Bucks, should be ballasted out, and there should be a piece of pile planking established between Taplow mill-tail and the entrance to the lock to prevent the mill scour coming directly into the lock tail.
The channel which carries off part of the water between the Buckingham shore and the ayt should be shut up, as well as that on the Berks shore, whereby all the water will be turned down the barge channel and will assist in preventing the shoals from accumulating again.
The towing-path may be continued on the Buckingham side quite to Boulter's Lock, by making towing-path bridges for the horses into the ayt.
I recommend also the channel, on the Berks side, being shut up to prevent, in small floods, the water from coming down that way.
Both the ayts on the Bucks and Berks sides might be extended by willow hedges, so as to contract the river, and thereby preserve the deep water into Bray-reach, which extends from this point to the mouth of the Holiport river, in all of which is good water.
The best plan would be to build a new lock on the Berkshire side of the river.
The old lock is completely worn out, inaccessible and impassable at low water, from the height of its cill, and the crooked, shallow channel below it, lying at the distance it does from the towing path.
1828: A new lock and cut on the modern site was opened on 30th March, 1829. It was known as Ray Mill Pound.
1880: Boulters Lock, Henry Taunt -
Boulters Lock, Henry Taunt, 1880
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; HT03092
1881: George Leslie -
Boulter's Lock, in the days of its former
keeper, had lovely roses on standards down the garden side, of which the
lock-keeper was so proud, that he never would part with a single bloom.
On the occasion of a boating picnic, I once bribed the keeper’s wife to give me one for a young lady, promising a sketch in exchange. I got the rose, and I gave a sketch of the lock garden and the little house. The lock-keeper lost his place shortly after this, and I believe his wife now treasures the sketch very much as a reminiscence of their former abode. The garden is not nearly so pretty now.
1881: W.H.Turner became lock keeper.
W H Turner
Keeper of Boulter's Lock 1881 - 1905, ex naval Gunnery and cutlass instructor.
... well built and muscular with bronzed face and hands
and a sturdy look which fears no man ...
"Now, gentlemen", I say, "Go quietly", and so they do.
I'll bet they did!
1881: George Leslie -
In the season, on a fine day, Turner's lock is crowded with boats.
I came through the lock once simultaneously with H.R.H. the Duke of Cambridge.
He was steering the boat he was in, and I accidentally touched his rudder with my punt’s nose,
which did not seem to please him.
About this Charles Harper commented in 1910 -
A quaint incident, one, doubtless, of many,
comes to me here, in considering Boulter's Lock,
out of the dim recesses of bygone reading.
Says Mr. G. D. Leslie, R.A., in his entertaining book, Our River:
"I came through the lock once simultaneously with H.R.H. the Duke of Cambridge. He was steering the boat he was in, and I am sorry to say I incurred his displeasure by accidentally touching his rudder with my punt's nose."
Oh dear! He does not tell us what H.R.H. said on this historic occasion ; but a knowledge of the Royal Duke's fiery temper and of his ready and picturesque way of expressing it leads the present writer to imagine that his remarks were of a nature likely to have been hurtful to the self-respect of the Royal Academician.
But it is something, is it not? to be able to record, thus delicately, by implication, that one has been vigorously cursed by a Royal Duke. Not to all of us has come such an honour!
Leslie continued in 1881:
If, after the lock, you pass round to the weir, observe the pretty mill garden, and the fine lines of the mill itself. Mr. Storey made a charming drawing of this bit. The old weir was extremely picturesque, and I painted a small picture of it with an evening effect, which is now in America, in the possession of my friend W.D. Morgan, with whom I have had many happy days on the river.
1887: Lucien Davis, 'On the Way to Henley Regatta' -
Boulter's Lock, 1887, Lucien Davis
1891: Boating Life on the Upper Thames, by F. Campbell Moller, M. D. -
Boulter’s Lock has been happily and aptly named the “Ladies’ Mile of the Thames.”
As in that world-famed stretch of Hyde Park roadway the best of London people congregate,
so on the waters and lounging about the lockside and towpath of Boulter’s they assemble likewise.
It is here newcomers are criticised and pronounced “good form” before the approval of the exclusive sets is given to one’s mere presence, to say nothing - unless properly vouched for - of the social entrée being extended to the aspirant for boating recognizance.
Vulgarity of action or word, offensive clumsiness when in contact with other boats or horseplay of any kind will be indelibly marked against the aggressor.
1888: A boat launch (rollers)
1905: W.H.Turner retired.
1909: The Conservancy acquired Ray Mill Island for the purposes of a new lock, a boat conveyor, and other improvements. The boat conveyor was built and operated and the site is still there. [see photos in page for 'Boulters Restaurant']
1912: Rebuilding Boulter's Lock.
Rebuilding Boulter's Lock, 1912
1912: This next photo was simply dated 1912. On 29th June, 1912 the newly rebuilt lock was opened by the Right Honorable the Lord Desborough K.C.V.O., Chairman of the Thames Conservancy. I suspect this photo is of that occasion -
Boulter's Lock Opening? 1912
1912: Fred Thacker –
I roamed and dreamed over Ray Mill Close one day of March in 1912, while these new works were in progress; and discerned before it was too late what a little kingdom the island once formed for the soul and the hand of a man. At the lower end was his material living, the mill: busy enough in old centuries when England was wise to feed herself; and close by stood his home. Here lay all his intercourse with the outer world. Within lay secluded what an earthly paradise, surrounded with living Thames! Still I beheld shady undulating alleys leading by little bridges across artificial brooks; still ancient barns and bowers of honeysuckle and clematis; still tiny sandy capes and bays where, a long lifetime ago, you might have sat golden hours and watched the last Thames salmon leap below the weir. Above the garden extends a triangular meadow, narrowing to the weir; which continues northward in its curve at least six centuries old. On the right main Thames flows down in tumbling foam, muttering of the sea, huddling along as though already late. Across the foam is Taplow Warborough island and then the Taplow millstream; all backed by Taplow hill: the 'Mai dun' which gives the town its title. On the left runs the Ray millstream; beyond which is the lock island and the cut. A memory of Boulter’s this, which compensates for all the alien things of Maidenhead.
1913: Boulter’s Lock, Francis Frith -
1913: Boulter’s Lock, Francis Frith
1913: Boulter’s Lock, Francis Frith
Boulters Lock Upper Cut
BRITISH PATHE - 1932 "ASCOT SUNDAY"
1940: Boulters Lock with Bren anti-aircraft guns
1989: Boulters Lock refurbished.
[ There is a problem unique to punters in Boulters Lock - and that is that when the lock is full it is around 18 feet deep. The usual punt pole is 16 feet long. I can just punt up from the lock with my 20 foot pole - but those less well endowed will need to paddle ]
1881: George Leslie -
Above Boulter’s Lock there
is a long canalized channel to the main stream, and by its side, and parallel
with this, the mill-stream runs. Here
are two boat-houses of picturesque construction, from one of which I painted a
I had models from town to sit for the figures, and the lookers-on were much troubled to know why the two young ladies kept so long in the same attitudes. One day the wind took my picture and easel clean out of the punt; I was so securely moored, that before I could get away to the rescue, the canvas had drifted down to within a very short distance of the mill-wheel. I managed to recover it however in time; I stuck it up in the sun for a good baking before I did anything more to it, and I don’t think it is in any way the worse for its bath. I have seen it since, when it looked sound and unaltered.
For those who love solitude and peace on the river I recommend the mill-stream on the Bucks side, which runs a long way behind the weir to the paper mills below; very few people ever go along there, and kingfishers and other wild birds may be seen, sometimes, enjoying the undisturbed state of things.
Left bank Lock cut
Right bank above weir
Right bank above weir