The Maidenhead Waterways are a system of waterways in Maidenhead, England. Currently disused, they are being restored and upgraded to make them navigable by small craft initially, and ultimately by narrow boats.
Long before today's pound locks were built on the main River Thames, the old waterways were controlled by 'flash locks', consisting of sluices or weirs with removable sections. Barges are believed to have once operated from wharves on both the main river and its side channels. Today the York Stream channel in the centre of Maidenhead is narrow/shallow and prone to dry out at times of low flow on the main River Thames that feeds it. The adjoining Moor Cut channel is permanently 'dry', yet the signs for "Willow Wharf" can still be seen on the channel wall by the Police station at Town Moor.
The channel which crosses Town Moor was enlarged in the 1960s as part of the then flood defence system, long before the Jubilee River was built. The two channels rejoin at Green Lane and from there the waterway running down to the Thames is 45 to 50 feet (14 to 15 m) wide, but overgrown and partly silted up. Channel clearance work over the last few years by volunteers and the Environment Agency has removed most of the tree blockages and it is already usable by canoes and rowing boats.
The stream connects to the River Thames and retains public navigation rights, though it is impractical for boats to pass through the town sections today as they are silted up and overgrown. The old channel leaves the Thames just above Cliveden and eventually rejoins it just below Bray Lock by the Marina.
By October 2008, a long term renewal scheme was in progress, aiming to restore and upgrade the old waterways and allow boats into the centre of Maidenhead. The Maidenhead Waterways Group (MW) was founded in 2006, and became a charity and private company limited by guarantee in March 2007, with the aim of restoring the waterways to a navigable standard, allowing small boats to travel into and around the town centre 'ring'. A lock and weir at Green Lane would raise and stabilise water levels in the town centre channels and refill the dry Moor Cut channel of the waterway.
The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead set up the Partnership for the Rejuvenation of Maidenhead (PRoM) in 2006, which developed and proposed a 20 Year Vision and Action Plan for rejuvenating the town centre. This led to development of a comprehensive Area Action Plan which after successive consultations was adopted in 2011. It sees the restored waterway as one of the defining projects which will help improve and shape the identity of the town for the future.
A planning application for Phase 1 of the waterways works was submitted to the Royal Borough by MW in August 2011 and was approved in December 2012. The project then moved on to the detailed design stage, in parallel with investigation of funding options. Area Action Plan development proposals for some of the key streamside sites were submitted during 2012, have since been approved and are helping fund implementation of the waterway. By mid-2014, Stage 1 of the project, covering the section between the A4 road and the Great Western Railway arches, was fully scoped, and the Royal Borough invited tenders for this first £2.1 million stage of the build. The contract was eventually awarded to specialist water and environmental contractor Greenford Ltd. Work on this first stage of the build began in early 2015, with the flow being diverted by a temporary dam down the usually empty Moor Cut channel. Stage 1 is expected to be completed by Spring 2016  It is being funded by money from the Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growing Places loan fund, and by Section 106 money resulting from developments in the town centre.
As the first stage of the waterways build approaches completion, the Royal Borough Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in December 2015 announced its intention to directly fund the next (£3m) stage of the build, allowing the 1 km long York Stream arm of Maidenhead's waterway 'ring' to be completed, including a weir (with fish pass and boat rollers) to lift the surface water level throughout the town centre. Small boats will then (c2017) be able to use this half of the 'ring, the new landscaping will be completed and the habitats can start to re-establish. In parallel with Stage 1 of the waterway build, Shanly Homes has been progressing a major residential-led development at Chapel Arches, set around the large water basin the waterway is set to provide. The development will be enhanced by the new waterside setting created by the waterway and is contributing to the cost of the build.
- Fleet Ditch
- Strand Water
- York Stream
- Maidenhead Ditch
- The Cut
- Maidenhead Flood Channel
- White Brook
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- House of Commons debate on Thames Flood Alleviation Scheme
- Maidenhead Advertiser, 17/05/07, quoting Maidenhead Civic Society
- Maidenhead Waterways Restoration Group
- Maidenhead Civic Society on York Stream
|Next confluence upstream||River Thames||Next confluence downstream|
|River Wye (north)||Maidenhead Waterways||Clewer Mill Stream (south)|