Conservators of the River Thames v Smeed Dean and Co: CA 1897

The erection of a lock or pound lock otherwise than for the maintenance or improvement of navigation would be ultra vires by a Navigation Authority and in all likelihood a nuisance. Chitty LJ said: ‘The Conservators are a statutory body brought into existence for the purpose of preserving, improving and maintaining the navigation of the River Thames . . but the powers granted to them by the 1894 Act are all subservient thereto and except for these purposes no powers are granted to them at all.’ The court discussed the meaning of the word ‘bed’ as to the bed of the river. ‘bed’ in the context of a tidal and non-tidal river meant: ‘. . the soil or ground which is covered by water in the ordinary course of nature – the ground over which the water flows or on which it lies.’


Chitty LJ, Smith LJ


[1897] 2 QB 334


Thames Conservancy Act 1894


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedRowland v The Environment Agency ChD 19-Dec-2002
Public rights of Navigation have since time immemorial at common law existed over the Thames including (unless and until extinguished or ceasing to be exercisable) Hedsor Water. The claimant sought a declaration that rights of navigation over that . .
CitedJones, Regina (on the Application Of) v The Environment Agency Admn 13-Jul-2005
The Environment Agency sought to persuade the claimants that they must pay for licences for their moorings for craft on the Thames. The boat owners said that they had placed poles in the banks for many years, and that because the moorings were not . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Land, Utilities

Updated: 19 May 2022; Ref: scu.187537