Times and Tides
The river trip from Westminster to Hampton Court is unique. At 35 kilometres (22 miles) one-way, it is the longest regular scheduled boat service available from London.
On a fiercely tidal river such as The Thames it is difficult and sometimes impossible to provide an exact time of departure and arrival.
The latest sailings estimate departure and journey times based on current tides and conditions
It is worth listing here the factors taken into consideration when preparing the latest sailing timetable
- There are two tides a day on the Thames it takes approximately five hours to come in and little over seven hours to go out
- Each high tide occurs slightly more than twelve hours later than the next
- Near to the new and full moons (about every two weeks) we have spring tides when there is a rise and fall between low tide and high tide of up to 8m (26')
- Seven to eight days after spring tides we have neap tides where the difference between low water and high water is around 5m (16')
- Other factors such as wind in the estuary and land water from the hills, all have a bearing on the time and height of tide.
The most obvious way the tide affects vessels is direction.
Traveling along with the tide ~upstream with the flood and downstream with the ebb, is more efficient than pushing against the ebb going up and the flood going down.
Westminster to Kew: 90 minutes each way*
Westminster to Richmond: 2 hours each way*
Westminster to Hampton Court: Three hours each way*
*Times are subject to tidal conditions
Richmond lock and footbridge is described as a half tide lock. In each arch of the footbridge there is a shutter known as a curtain.
Two hours after high water the curtains are lowered into the river, creating a barrier to maintain the level of water above this point.
While the curtains are in the lowered position , vessels are obliged to use the lock, and transit time will vary depending the tide.
Two hours before the next high water the curtains are lifted, which allows vessels to navigate unimpeded through the bridge.
The Cockney Sparrow was built in 1976 at Eel Pie Island. She is a two level boat with a deceptively large enclosed saloon and an open top deck.
This historic vessel, built by Salter Brothers Oxford in 1911, has plied the river for over a century
Princess Freda was built in 1926 by T.C. Letcher on the Isle of Wight, and has been restored to a particularly high standard.