Lock Keepers' Houses

For hundreds of years, lock and weir keepers have maintained water levels to ensure navigation at all times, including periods of drought, and to reduce the risk of flooding during heavy rain. Lock keepers and their families are part of the local community. Their well-tended houses and gardens are an attraction for residents and visitors alike. If the removal of the resident lock keepers had gone ahead, it would have altered the character and traditions of the river forever.

Resident lock-keepers play an important role in preventing flooding and balancing water levels. Weir gates often need to be operated at night and resident lock keepers can respond quickly in times of emergency. They are also able to assist boaters and other members of the public who get into difficulties.

 IN 2008 the Environment Agency announced on “economic grounds” that lock-keepers’ houses were to be disposed of, either sold or rented, with current occupants required to move. RTS opposed this action, in support of the lock-keepers and their families  and because of the effects on safety, good river management and relationships with local communities.

The campaign attracted a good deal of support from the public, other river-related organisations and MPs from riparian constituencies, which led to the first All-Party Parliamentary Thames Group. Eventually, the EA reduced the number of lock-houses affected but criticism of the policy continued until April 2019  when the EA reported that leases on the remaining rented houses would be terminated with resident lock-keepers restored at Buscot, Goring, Chertsey, Sunbury and Blake’s, on the Kennet & Avon at Reading. Also, after an absence of many years, that a resident lock-keeper would be moving into a house at Teddington Lock.

Theresa May MP with Campaigners

Lock-keepers' wives with a petition to save the houses.Below MPs join the campaign.

Martin Salter MP & Theresa May MP at Cookham Lock