Caversham Lock

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Caversham lock in 2012

Caversham Lock is a lock and main weir on the River Thames at Reading, Berkshire. Both structures connect to De Bohun Island (or colloquially Lock Island), a long island. The original lock was built by the Thames Navigation Commissioners in 1778. Additional sluices north of verdant View Island and multiple home Heron Island form the whole weir complex. A footbridge passes over all three islands to connect Lower Caversham to Reading via an alternative route than George Street and Reading Bridge.

The weir is upstream of the lock and in the mid-channel. Kings Meadow, Reading and buildings comprising homes and office blocks adjoin to the south of the lock itself. The island contains a typical lock-keeper's house, a crane depot, small boat yard and large boathouse owned by the Environment Agency for occasional use by that authority and police in river patrol and maintenance of boats.


Caversham Weir in 1903

A weir, mill, ferry and flash lock on the site were referenced in 1493 when granted to Notley Abbey. The pound lock opened in 1778, but the lock house, long promised, was not built until after 1819. In 1871 Reading Corporation planned to build a swingbridge over the lock cut upstream of the lock, but this was not implemented. The lock was rebuilt in 1875.[1]

Access to and across the lock

The lock is about 440 yds east of Reading railway station and well connected to Kings Meadow, the largest park of central Reading.

Access to the north is to part of the Lower Caversham neighbourhood of Caversham and the route is open as a public footpath.

Reach above the lock

Soon after the lock is Reading Bridge followed by Fry's Island in the middle of the river. The built-up part of Reading stretches 500 yds (on the Berkshire side) to Caversham Bridge, to the middle of which is attached a gangway leading to Pipers Island, with a restaurant which covers more than 75% of it.

The northern bank passes by Caversham, at the far farmland end of which St Mary's Island (seen on maps also as Upper and Lower Large) is close to the bank. West of this Mapledurham House comes into view as the river continues almost northwards towards Mapledurham Lock.

Reading Amateur Regatta is held annually in June between St Mary's Island and Caversham Bridge. The Reading Festival is held on August Bank Holiday at Little John's Farm on Richfield Avenue near Caversham Bridge. During the festival a temporary structure, Reading Festival Bridge, links the site with parking and camping areas on the open meadows on the north bank. Here the Chiltern Hills can be seen in the background.

View as the channel veers north-west by Tilehurst and Purley

On the south bank, after the farmed meadows, is Tilehurst, where the river veers briefly north with the two islands of Appletree Eyot and Poplar Island in the centre of the river. The railway runs adjacent to the river for more than 600 yards on a high brick embankment to enable it to cut through the end of the escarpment on which most of Purley-on-Thames lies, further upstream.

The Thames Path follows the Berkshire bank. A footpath follows the north band between Reading and Caversham bridges.

Sports clubs

  • Reading Rowing Club
  • Reading Canoe Club
  • Reading University Boat Club

See also

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Caversham Lock)


  1. Fred. S. Thacker The Thames Highway: Volume II Locks and Weirs 1920 - republished 1968 David & Charles

Bridges and crossings on the River Thames
Reading Festival Bridge Caversham Bridge Reading Bridge Caversham Lock Sonning Bridges Shiplake Railway Bridge Henley Bridge