Ban on hired narrowboats on tidal Thames relaxed

The recent ban on hired narrow boats cruising the tidal River Thames below Teddington Lock to Brentford is to be lifted but they will still not be allowed to cruise the tidal Thames below Brentford to Limehouse. Hirers will have to ensure boats are not ‘liable to flooding’ and use extra handover procedures.

Narrowboat on tidal Thames

As a result of the lessons identified from a PLA investigation into an accident involving a hired narrowboat on the tidal Thames, the Port of London Authority (PLA) and representatives from the British Marine Federation (BMF) and the Association of Pleasure Craft Operators (APCO) have worked together to agree clear, safe and practical rules and guidelines to make it safe for hired narrowboats to transit the tidal Thames above Brentford. Discussions are continuing for hired narrowboats seeking to navigate the considerably more complex and challenging tideway conditions between Limehouse and Brentford.

The PLA and BMF have agreed construction and operational requirements for narrowboats transiting the tidal Thames in the west of London between Brentford and Teddington Lock; the section of the tidal Thames most used by hired narrowboats. Relevant guidance documents for boat operators are expected to be published by the end of April.

The construction requirements will be based on existing safety certification, plus additional measures to reduce the likelihood of a hired narrowboat flooding while navigating through tidal waters. There will also be enhancements to the documentation provided and the existing handover procedures between the operator and the hirer or charterer.

The Association of Pleasure Craft Operators (APCO) has welcomed the agreement with the PLA to allow hired boats to continue to enjoy the tidal Thames as part of their holiday.

APCO chairman Ann Davies said: “This stretch is a part of the much larger Thames Ring, which includes the River Thames Navigation, the Grand Union and Oxford canals, so we are pleased to be able to promote this holiday cruise once again”.
She added: “APCO are also pleased that the PLA will also allow transit for Hotel and Timeshare boats using the same construction requirements and documentation enhancements. These procedures together with our new Quality Assessed Boatyard (QAB) scheme – formerly Hire Boat Handover – will further ensure that all customers can safely navigate the tidal Thames.”

Thanks to Harry Arnold and Waterway Images for most of this report.

All materials and images © Canal Junction Ltd. Dalton House, 35 Chester St, Wrexham LL13 8AH. No unauthorised reproduction.

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