The following guidelines will help you safely through the locks:

Waiting to enter a lock

  • Remember the no overtaking rule in the lock channel approach to the lock.
  • In narrow lock cuts, remember that some pleasure craft draw up to 1.2 metres (4 feet) or more and might not be able to manoeuvre quickly.
  • When waiting for a lock, form an orderly queue close to the bank.
  • Queue jumping is bad manners, arouses ill feeling and can cause confusion and delay entering the lock.
  • While waiting for the lock to open, leave room for vessels leaving the lock to pass.
  • Obey instructions given by the lockkeeper.
  • For reasons of both safety and efficiency the lockkeeper may not necessarily instruct craft to enter the lock in strict order of arrival.
  • If you arrive at the lock ahead of large powered craft it is safer to allowthem into the lock ahead of you especially when proceeding upstream.
  • In the lock Move into the lock but try to avoid the area close to the upstream lock gates. This area can become very turbulent when the lock is being filled.
  • Be aware that this area may become hazardous even when you are passing through the lock in a downstream direction if a situation arises requiring the lock to be refilled.
  • Maintain your position in the lock through the use of light pressure strokes.
  • Do not attempt to leave the rowing or sculling boat while in the lock.
  • When the sluices are opening, be aware that the water in the lock will beginto flow towards the down stream lock gates and may flow much faster on one side of your boat than the other, causing the boat to move into a diagonal position across the lock. Avoid this by remaining alert so as to maintain your position parallel to the lock side walls.
  • If you are at the down stream end of the lock, take care to avoid your stern becoming lodged on any of the cross rails of the lock gates.
  • If you are going upstream through the lock, watch for any Red or Yellow boards on the lock gates indicating a strong weir stream. Note the position of the weir and pass well clear keeping a good look out for other vessels.

Unattended locks

  • Lock keepers hours of duty are displayed at locks (see also 'Useful Information for Boaters').
  • When the lock is unattended it may be operated by river users but at their own risk.
  • If you are planning to pass through a lock at a time when it is unattended arrange for a member of your rowing club experienced in the operation of the lock to meet you there and operate the lock gates and sluices.
  • Instructions for operating powered locks are posted on the operating pedestals.
  • Lock gates must always be properly closed before slowly opening the sluices to fill or empty the lock.
  • After use, leave the lock empty and the gates shut, as in many cases there is a public right of way over the gates.

Crews boating from Marlow Rowing Club boathouse

  • If you plan to go through the Marlow lock to race on the section of river between Marlow and Cookham, please ensure that you have experienced going through the lock with a coaching launch present in advance of the day of the race.


Safety Officer

Marlow Rowing Club