The River Thames

Staines Bridge

The River Thames is the longest river in England measuring 346 km (215 miles). The Thames begins in the Cotswold Hills (Gloucestershire), meandering eastwards through Spelthorne before passing through the city of London and ending in the North Sea.

Archaeologists have shown that Spelthorne has been populated since the Ice Age, when the river assumed its present course.

Staines, originally a small Roman town called Ad Pontes (meaning "at the bridges"), developed beside the original river crossing established in the 1st Century AD. The wooden structure built by the Romans was the first of a series of bridges at this point leading to the present bridge opened in 1832.

The Thames has a great deal to offer - from daily boat trips to simply wandering along its banks and enjoying its tranquil scenery. The locks enjoy a deserved reputation for attractively maintained gardens including those at Penton Hook, Chertsey, Shepperton and Sunbury.

Many of Spelthorne's attractive parks and open spaces are situated beside the river, and include

  • Lammas Recreation Ground, Staines
  • Laleham Park, Laleham
  • Shepperton Tow Path, Shepperton
  • Manor Park, Shepperton
  • riverside walks in Sunbury

From these vantage points it is also possible to enjoy the ever-changing river scene and observe many species of water fowl, including the stately mute swans which frequent Spelthorne's main waterway.

Swan upping

The ancient ceremony of swan upping takes place annually during July and this historic custom, dating back over 500 years, involves a survey of the birds belonging to the Crown and the Vintners and Dyers Companies. Swans are counted and marked, according to ownership, on a 70 mile, five day journey up the River Thames.