Limehouse Cut

Limehouse Cut

Old Ford Lock

Bow Lock

River Lee Navigation

Bromley Stop Lock

A12 Tunnel N Approach

Docklands Light Railway

Morris Road

Bow Common Lane

Hertford Union Canal

Limehouse Cut

Old Ford Lower Lock

Old Ford Middle Lock

Old Ford Upper Lock

A1205 Burdett Road

Mile End Lock

Regents Canal

A13 Limehouse

Britannia Stop Lock

Limehouse Basin

Thames Lock

The Limehouse Cut is a straight, broad canal in the East End of London, which linked the lower reaches of the River Lee Navigation to the River Thames. It now connects to Limehouse Basin as a result of changes made in 1968. The Cut turns in a broad curve from Bow Locks, where the Lee Navigation meets Bow Creek; it then proceeds directly south-west for 2 miles (3.2 km) through the London Borough of Tower Hamlets to Limehouse Basin.

The Limehouse Cut was authorised by the River Lee Act, an Act of Parliament obtained in 1766, and is therefore the oldest canal in London. It provides a short-cut from the River Thames at Limehouse Basin north-east to the River Lee Navigation, avoiding the tortuous curves of the lower reaches of the River Lea at Bow Creek, and the need to wait for the tide to make the long detour round the Isle of Dogs. The Cut joins the Lea at Bromley-by-Bow. Before 1968 the Cut enjoyed its own direct link to the Thames, but this exit lock was replaced when a short length of new canal was constructed to link the Cut with the Regent's Canal Dock, now known as Limehouse Basin. The link to the Thames has since been infilled. There was a link to the dock in the 19th century, but this had been removed when the dock was extended. The cut was built for sailing barges, and can accommodate vessels which are 88 ft by 19 ft (26.8m x 5.8m). Headroom is limited to 7 ft (2.1m). The lock from Limehouse Basin to the Thames was originally a ship lock, but has been replaced with a smaller one. Bow Locks were originally tidal, replenishing Limehouse Cut and the southern section of the Lee Navigation at high tide. The Cut could be isolated from the level of the Navigation by the Bromley Stop Lock; and from Limehouse Basin by the Britannia Stop Lock. Today, the level at Bow Lock is maintained at the same level as Limehouse Basin, with the result that the two stop locks are redundant, and have been largely removed.

Factories and warehouses line the Cut in the first few hundred metres from the Thames, but are serviced by roads now. These days the canals are used for pleasure, both on and beside the water on the towpaths. Regent's Canal, Hertford Union Canal, River Lee Navigation and the Limehouse Cut form a square, for a distance of seven to eight miles which can be walked or cycled. These scenic towpaths cut across roads and railways in the area, providing a distinct viewpoint. Access on foot along the Limehouse Cut was difficult in the area below the Blackwall Tunnel approach road, but is now possible as a result of an innovative scheme to create a floating towpath. This was opened in July 2003 and consists of 60 floating pontoons, creating a 240 metres (262 yd) walkway complete with green glowing edges. The Cut is administered by British Waterways.

River Thames