Whether you're joining our waterways or leaving for the Thames, there's important things you need to know. The tidal locks to the Thames are Thames Lock Brentford, Limehouse, Bow and West India Dock Entrance.
Boating on the tidal Thames presents a unique set of challenges. For instance, it's not uncommon for the passage between Teddington and Limehouse to have waves over a metre tall with tidal flows in excess of four knots. But for the experienced boater it's well worth a go.
The River Thames flows down stream towards our Docklands office.
But the tide is more powerful - it'll be either pushing water back up towards Teddington. Or puling it back towards the Docklands. If you're travelling on the Thames, you need to travel with the tide.
High tide (or high water) is the point at which the tide's direction switches. You'll want to be at your destination by then.
Boats travelling from Teddington to Brentford:
The usual advice is to lock into Teddington about 45 minutes after high water at London Bridge (about 45 minutes to Brentford)
Boats travelling from Brentford to Teddington:
The usual advice is to lock into Brentford about 60 to 90 minutes before high water at London Bridge (about 45 minutes to Brentford)
Boats travelling from Brentford to Limehouse:
The usual advice is to lock into Brentford about one hour after high water at London Bridge
Boats travelling from Limehouse to Brentford:
At this point ask yourself 'what time are you leaving Limehouse?'. Your arrival in Brentford will be about two and a half hours after that
So, using the tidal locks therefore depends on the tide. However, you can only use the tidal locks at Thames Lock Brentford, Limehouse, Bow and West India Dock Entrance when our team or volunteers are on site.
When requesting a lock booking you may need to leave a message on an answering machine. We'll respond within two working days to confirm or amend the lock booking. Please provide:
You can view lock closures on the stoppage pages of our website.
The Port of London (PLA) expects most vessels and especially those of 13.7m or more in length overall, to have an operational VHF radio on board.
The PLA has information and a very useful guidance document on this.
The 2020 Thames tide timetable sets out availability of the lock.
You must book the lock at least 48 hours in advance by either calling 0303 040 4040 or emailing our national customer service team stating that you wish to book passage through Thames Lock in the message box.
Please explain that you wish to book passage through Thames Lock (in Brentford) and provide:
Please note: Our London & South East regional team (Little Venice and Milton Keynes offices) work 9am to 5pm Monday to Thursday, and 9am to 4.30pm Friday, with last bookings taken at 3pm on Friday.
Before you go on your journey, check lock closures on our stoppage pages.
Limehouse Lock is not available for around two hours either side of low water at London Bridge.
In the summer (1 April to 30 September): the lock is open between 8am to 6pm. It's also possible to use the lock from 5am and to 10pm if it is booked 24 hours in advance.
In the winter (1 October to 31 March): the lock is open between 8am to 4pm. It's also possible to use the lock from 5am and to 10pm if it is booked 24 hours in advance.
To book the lock, call BWML on 020 7308 9930.
Bow Lock must be booked 7 days in advance. Availability is restricted to two hours either side of high water at London Bridge between 9.30am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday.
To book the lock, call 0303 040 4040 or email our customer services team.
West India Lock must be booked in advance. Availability is restricted to three hours either side of high water at North Woolwich. We can guarantee a lock booking between 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday. For any operations outside these hours, please contact us to discuss your requirements.
Please note that you will need to have full salvage cover/wreck removal insurance to enter West India Dock.
To book the lock, please call our Customer Services team on 0303 040 40 40 and ask for West India Marine Control.
We need two working days as tide heights, water levels and fluvial flows can affect the lock and lock movements. (A normal working day is Monday to Friday 9.30am to 4.30pm, not including bank and public holidays.) It's possible to book a slot outside these normal passage times and we'll try to help you through, but we can't guarantee any movements outside of the published times.
If you've not been on our waterways before, you'll need to buy the appropriate licence first.
You will need a valid boat safety certificate and current insurance cover.
Maximum craft dimensions for our London canals are: length 21.95m (72’), beam 3.96m (13’), air draft 2.13m (7’).
In an emergency, call 0800 47 999 47.
Last date edited: 26 June 2020