MARSH WEIR FISH LADDERS (Environmental Agency)
A fish ladder was first built in 1995 using money provided by the Thames Salmon Trust and a generous donation from Martyn Arbib.
There are over 20 species of fish that live in the River Thames at Henley. Many of these want to travel upstream to find new areas to breed or feed. Weirs block this movement as fish can’t swim around them and most can’t jump over them. That is why they need a fish ladder.
Since the 1980s, the Environment Agency and its predecessors have been building fish ladders on weirs to allow fish to move freely upstream. These fish ladders help to reduce the effect of weirs on the environment.
In 2003, the weir at Marsh was rebuilt. A second fish ladder was added, with ,metal plates arranged on the bottom. The plates slow the water and allow the fish to swim upstream. The green brush material allows slow-swimming eels to crawl upstream.
FISH FOUND IN THE RIVER THAMES
Here are some of the fish you can find in the River Thames:
Bream (average length 55cm)
Pike (average length 70cm)
Salmon (average length 70cm)
Perch (average length 30cm)
Dace (average length 25cm)
Eel (average length 60cm)
Trout (average length 40cm)
HENLEY FROM THE WARGRAVE ROAD 1698
Painted over 300 years ago, upstream from here on the hillside above Marsh Lock, where the busy A321 now runs, by Flemish artist Jan Siberechts (1627-1703) and on permanent display in the Henley Gallery at the River & Rowing Museum. The landscape was possibly commissioned by the Drapers, wealthy local merchants and is very much the ‘selfie’ of its day, showing us their land, their industrious labourers, and the profitable management of their assets. Also pictured are children- perhaps their grandchildren- riding on top of the haywain, pulled by horses in what may be the Draper livery.
This detail shows a productive, well managed rural scene with every labourer hard at work bringing in the harvest to store for the winter months ahead- and profitability trade downstream. The climate across northern Europe in the 1600s was harsh and known as the ‘Little Ice Age’, in winter the river here sometimes froze over for weeks on end, followed by flooding that delayed crop sowing and halted river trade causing great hardship to the town.
For centuries Henley was an inland port, a trans-shipment point for the surrounding countryside to trade with an ever-expanding London. Malted barley, grain and timber- seen stacked by the riverside- were the backbone of the town’s prosperity, with salt, coal and domestic goods returning upstream. Timber felled from the woods beyond the church- the bare fields below the treeline- sold for £2000 in 1674, the equivalent of £230,000 today, a premium price for the building of London after the Great Fire of 1666.
LIFE ON THE THAMES
Here Siberechts observes two laden barges moored by the flashlock, where a head of water could be held back, then released to send barges surging downstream towards Henley. Barges heading upstream had to be winched to the riverbank where ‘halers’ would haul them against the current. Working on the river was dangerous, there are accounts of men drowning when unevenly loaded barges capsized and lives lost when winch lines snapped, as recorded downstream in Hambleden.
Figures toil in the fields and on the river. Three horsemen gallop across the fields and midstream men fish from a small boat. The man overseeing the bargemen, by the winch, could be the millet, keen to keep his mill wheel turning- possibly charging a toll for every barge going through the flashlock. In contrast to the affluence of the children on the haywain, Siberechts has observed a couple with a small child trudging towards the town, laden with reeds.
The Sheldon tapestry, circa 1590, shown left, gives a stylised image of Henley’s old stone bridge possibly built in 1170. Probably destroyed by flooding, the surviving 12th century stone arches are shown in the Siberechts painting with the bridge now linked by a wooden span.
Partially blown up in 1646 by retreating Royalist troops during the English Civil War and damaged in the severe floods of 1774, the bridge became increasingly dilapidated. With the crossing beyond repair, a ferry piled its trade for many years until the present bridge was completed in 1786.
Restored Whitewater canoe site
Opened on 5th June 2003 by the
Rt. Hon Alun Michael MP