Self Service on the Thames

Its nice to see that British Waterways are not the only ones who can waste money through board room decsions that don’t work in practice.

Self Service sign in use on the Thames
Self Service sign in use on the Thames

In the last 18 months, the Environment Agency has placed a sign at each end of every lock on the Thames to indicate whether a lock keeper is on duty.  It must have seemed like a good idea in the board room when a plain yellow circle on a white background was chosen to inform boaters that there was no lock keeper.


I wondered why some people then referred to the Thames being on Yellow Boards, even in mid summer.  Yellow Boards and Red Boards are normally displayed when the stream is rising, or strong stream warnings – a yellow or red sign is usually hung from the lock gates in a somewhat rustic style.  So yes, unless you have seen a real Yellow Board, the chances are that you may misinterpret the yellow circle are inevitable.

So over the summer every yellow board circle has been replaced with a blue circle with the words “Self Service” in bold white characters.  Now that makes sense but it would have been better to get it right first time.  The circles have been stuck on top of the old signs, so the cost is presumably not too much on this occasion so this pales into insignificance when looking at some of the British Waterways decisions costing hundreds of thousands. 

I wrote this in October but forgot to publish it; it still is a topical article and it reminds me that since the rain last week I have been receiving river status reports from the Environment Agency by email.  A far cry from hanging a swinging board on a lock gate, they now run a special website which describes the stream conditions at every lock.  Well worth bookmarking, and indeed well worth subscribing to the updates by email.

Heres the link : Environment Agency – River Thames Conditions

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