GUIDE TO THE RIVER THAMES
Jubilee River, River Thames.
A new 11 km/ 7 mile long flood relief channel that leaves the Thames immediately upstream of Boulters Weir and re-joins the Thames 1 mile downstream of Windsor and Eton.
A large man made channel- as big as the Thames- that has been designed to look like a natural river, meandering its way along between shallow reed beds. Along the river there are 5 weirs. The main weir of interest, Slough Weir, consists of an open concrete ramp that can create a suitable pour over feature in very high water.
The Jubilee River, which was completed in 2002, has been built at great cost to alleviate the flood risk to Maidenhead, Bray and Windsor. Once the reed beds and landscaping have become established the river was due to become open to paddlers of unpowered craft, before the end of the year. The River features 5 weirs, of which one, Slough Weir, can provide some entertainment when all other weirs on the Thames are washed out.
Water levels required
This is a flood relief channel so by definition, at normal levels it has few cumecs flowing along it. However, when the Thames is bursting its banks, the channel has the capacity to cope with high flows, and at these times, when the usual play boating venues are all washed out-even Mapledurham- the channel can be worth checking out.
Gauge and levels information
The Jubilee River is only worth considering when all the talk on the www.thamesweirproject.co.uk message board is of weirs being too high and washing out- even Mapledurham.
Directions and parking
The Jubilee River starts just upstream of Boulters Weir on the eastern edge of Maidenhead, by passes the Thames to the north and re-joins the River east of Windsor and Eton.
Of the 5 weirs on the Jubilee River, the one weir of interest is the 4th weir, running downstream, called 'Slough Weir', which is the one that is clearly visible from the M4. It is on the Slough to Eton road. Exit the M4 at junction 6 and follow the signs for Eton. This will take you north and eventually south back under the M4. At the next roundabout, park in the car park next to the roundabout. This overlooks the weir.
The final 5th weir has potential and is close to Slough Weir. It can be found north of the Thames, at Black Potts Viaduct, just off the B3026 between Eton and Datchet. From Slough Weir, head south towards Eton and take the first turn left following the signs for Datchet. The road crosses the channel just to the east of Eton School's sports centre and playing fields- take either towpath southwards/ downstream.
Weir 1- situated under the road at the start. This a lethal looking walled in double radial.
Weir 2- 1 mile downstream, this is another fairly unpleasant looking walled in radial weir, situated just before a road bridge.
Weir 3- an open concrete ramp with fish pass, that creates a small stopper at the bottom. Similar to Slough Weir but not next to a road.
Weir 4- a concrete ramp- this is the one that you can see from the M4, by looking southbound, heading westbound, just before junction 6. When the Thames is high, this creates a small pour over that is OK for blasts and spins but little else because the weir pool is shallow. The stopper can also be very retentive so take a throw line and a friend. At very high levels, when even Mapledurham is washed out, the weir pool can become deep enough for vertical moves, and at the same time the stopper can become more friendly. Not the best play boating venue in the Thames Valley perhaps, but better than nothing when everything else is washed out.
Weir 5- another concrete ramp immediately downstream of where the Windsor to Staines railway bridge goes over the channel, shortly before the channel re-joins the Thames. This has a smaller drop than Slough Weir and would appear to wash out flat when the Thames is very high. Potentially it might produce a pour over feature at the right level but at the time of writing this was unproven.
The weirs on the Jubilee Channel have not been designed with the play boater in mind, which is a shame. In practice though, this is a flood relief channel so the weirs will rarely have enough water. Who knows, maybe one day the Environment Agency might be persuaded to make some design modifications to the weirs- assuming of course, that the changes will not increase erosion of the carefully planned river bank ecosystem. Slough Weir has potential- if the channel of water flowing over the weir was narrowed down and therefore deepened and a kicker ramp installed. One day.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Chris Wheeler.