Thames Traditional Boat Rally Cancelled Due to Winter Flooding


The organisers of the Thames Traditional Boat Rally have made a very difficult decision today to cancel this year’s event due to areas of the river bank still having flood water on them.

Chairman of the Committee has written the following statement:

As you all know the Committee and its supporters have been pushing on with the arrangements to provide you all with another wonderful weekend this July, with some new attractions lined up. It is therefore with the deepest regret that I have to inform you that following an inspection of Fawley Meadows on the 12th May and deliberations by the Committee last night, it was concluded that the right decision was to cancel the event.

Last winter was the wettest for over 60 years and the Upper Meadow at Fawley was completely flooded. Although those waters have retreated to some extent there is still a very large pond, covering a third of that area, and there is little prospect of the ground drying out. You can see photos on

The long range weather forecasts are predicting more wet weather than dry over the coming two months. Even the predicted mini heat wave is accompanied by thunderstorms. Coupled with the high ground water levels and soft ground conditions the Upper Meadow is effectively unusable for the Rally infrastructure.

We looked at putting all of the infrastructure on the Lower Meadow, but that is not viable. Although this meadow is higher, the ground water level is currently high and ground conditions are softer than normal. There is also more potential for causing damage to the ground surface and consequently for the TTBR being liable to owners Henley Royal Regatta for a sizeable repair bill.

Should the week or two preceding the rally be wet (or indeed the weekend itself) that would lead to a significant reduction in attendance levels and therefore a substantial reduction of income on which the rally heavily relies. Boaters in particular will know how quickly the river conditions change following even modest rainfall, with red boards displayed quickly as a consequence of the EA’s actions to control the river flow and level. In that event the boats would not even get to the rally site, or they may be stranded there as we saw in 2007.

To be fair to everybody and to minimise any disruption or financial implications to all the entrants, and the TTBR, we believe it is better to cancel the event now rather than risk waiting until much nearer the time. This will give everybody time to make alternative arrangements and also avoid abortive costs. Full refunds will be made, or cheques returned, to all those who have submitted applications for boat and trade entry, as well those for advance tickets and camping plots. We will get those to you as soon as we can.

The Trad Boat Rally is not the only event which has taken this decision. The Goring and Streatley Regatta (due to be held on the same weekend) has also been cancelled due to poor ground conditions. Like them we feel it is better to hold off until next year in the hope of better conditions, rather than stage a poor event or have to cancel at the last minute, like we had to do in 2012, which would definitely ruin the finances of the TTBR and end it for good. Calling off now means the Tradrally can go ahead again in 2015 if conditions permit.

This decision has not been taken lightly. It is a very sad way for Stuart Wilkinson (President) and myself to leave the frontline of the organisation, but after twenty odd years we are “hanging up the Blazers”. A new organising committee needs to be established if the Rally is to continue. No one has stepped up to the plate during the past few years of asking, but some of you need to consider taking on the mantle. Stuart and I are more than willing to offer advice to ensure a smooth transition over the next 12 to 14 months, and of course we have a huge archive of material from past events, not to mention electrical and other equipment and the goodwill of our suppliers, to pass on. So please come forward – if you would like to know more about how it all works to help you decide we will gladly meet and discuss.

Thank you all for your understanding and continued support of this great event. Let us hope that 2015 brings a change in fortune.

Yours sincerely

Tony Goodhead