Interesting facts about the Thames catchment and the critically endangered European eel

  • The Thames is the longest river entirely in England

    The Thames rises at Thames Head in Gloucestershire and meanders 346kms where it eventually flows into the North Sea, via the Thames Estuary.

  • The Thames meanders through The Cotswolds Water Park, an area with 180 lakes

    The wetland landscape supported thousands of breeding waterfowl. The site is home to bats, water voles and otters.

  • Famous for its thousands of Snake’s head fritillaries, which bloom in April

    Meadows like North Meadow National Nature Reserve (NNR) were once common along the upper Thames.

  • Radcot Bridge is the oldest surviving bridge across the Thames

    It was was the scene of a battle on 19th December 1387 between the forces of Richard II and Henry Bollingbroke, the future Henry IV. This battle raged along the Thames to Newbridge and finished at Bablock Hythe.

  • The highest lock on the Thames is St John’s Bridge

    It’s a two-section road bridge across the channel of the upper Thames near Lechlade. This current bridge was built in 1886.

  • The Oxford stretch of the Thames is often referred to as the River Isis

    It was thought its original name Tamesis was a combination of Thame and Isis, this has turned out to be false. The name Isis has been used from its source in the Cotswolds until it is joined by the Thame at Dorchester in Oxfordshire.

  • The famous film The Eagle has Landed was filmed in 1976 partly at Mapledurham Mill

    A mill was already present at Mapledurham at the time of the Domesday Book – a medieval survey completed in 1086.

  • The River Kennet enters the Thames at Reading

    The Thames has 38 main tributaries feeding it between its source and Teddington. The Kennet is the largest. These tributaries contain a range of important habitats that support many species of wildlife, including water voles and otters.

  • Just above Henley bridge in Henley-on-Thames is the headquarters of the Henley Royal Regatta

    Below the bridge is the Leander Club, the most famous and successful rowing club in the world.

  • A salmon ladder was opened at Boulters Weir on 19 May 2000 by the Duke of Wellington

    The last salmon caught before the salmon ladder at the weir was landed in 192. This was one of 20 ladders installed through funding from Thames Salmon Trust, now know as Thames Rivers Trust.

  • Windsor Castle was the main residence for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

    After Albert’s death the queen was sometimes called the ‘Widow of Windsor’. The castle is the largest inhabited castle in the world.

  • In 1215 King John signed the Magna Carta in a water meadow at Runnymede

    The exact location is unknown. This document limited the power of the monarch and gave legal rights to all. Nobody knows why a water meadow and Thames flood plain was chosen.

  • Eels are a part of the Thames cultural heritage

    Every year young eels known as elvers arrive from the Sargasso Sea and swim up the Thames, however that journey is hindered by the many barriers on the river.

  • When King Henry VIII left Hampton Court he often used the river Thames to get up to London

    Henry would travel in the royal barge. Built during Tudor times and given to Henry VIII by Cardinal Wolesey, this impressive palace overlooks the north bank of the Thames.

  • The 1086 Domesday Book records eels used as currency, to pay rent and taxes

    The payment of rent and taxes in this way continued for another 500 years. This shows there used to be plenty of eels. Records in the Domesday Book show there were at least 56 locations where rents were paid in eels in the Thames catchment.

  • Jellied Eels

    Eels were once an important nutritious and readily available food source for the working class of London.

If you would like further information on Thames Catchment Community Eels Project, please contact us

Working together in partnership

Thames Rivers Trust
Action For The River Kennet
South East Rivers Trust
Thames 21
Thames Estuary Partnership
Green Recovery Fund Project
The Thames Catchment Community Eels Project is funded by the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The fund is being delivered by the National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with the Environment Agency and Natural England.

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