A report on the May 1996 meeting held at the Village Hall.
Roy Dunstan is a Lock Keeper, at present at Old Windsor, and my word he knows his River Thames, from its source at seven Springs in Gloucestershire to the Estuary. He was the speaker at the May meeting of The Eton Wick History Group and he talked of the changes in the control of the river over the centuries, the various organisations which held jurisdiction over it - from the Mayor of the City of London in the twelfth century right through to today's Environment Agency, with particularly fond mention of the Thames Conservancy. He spoke on the serious subject of pollution and, in contrast we heard about the Lock Keeper's wife at Cliveden - 'Mad Mary' - with her long tweed skirt and wildly swinging legs!
|Boveney Lock Keeper|
Barge horses sometimes had to be swum across the river when the towpaths changed from one bank to the other – a situation often caused by rich riparian land-owns not wanting the towpath (but really the bargees) on their side of the river. These riparian owners also objected to the visitors who wanted to enjoy the Thames when passing through Maidenhead during Ascot Week, but their 'Keep Out' notices merely served to provide bonfire fuel for the visiting city dwellers.
Thanks to the conservators, who have been busy cleaning up the Thames since 1866, the river is now cleaner that it has been for many years and fish have a better chance of survival; salmon have returned and to encourage them further some of the weirs have been fitted with salmon ladders to assist them up stream. The river's flow is now expertly controlled by skilful management.
During the 1990's the Parish Magazine of Eton, Eton Wick and Boveney reported on the meetings of the Eton Wick History Group. A member of the audience took shorthand notes in the darkened hall. This article was published in the June edition of 1996.