Hertford Union Canal Repair Works

The Hertford Union Canal is nearly 200 years old and the walls are in need of repair.

Helen walking along the Hertford Union Canal Helen walking along the Hertford Union Canal

Between January – March 2022 we will be closing the section of waterway between Grove Road Bridge (Bridge 2) and Top Lock (Lock 1), near Parnell Road Bridge (Bridge 5) from 4 January to 31 March 2022 to carry out these essential repairs and you will have a unique opportunity to see these repairs up close.

Hertford Union Canal Open Day

Join us on Friday 4 and Saturday 5 March 2022 to hear more about the heritage of the canal and to see first-hand, the works being undertaken on this popular waterway. There will also be a chance for you to help clear the canal-bed of accumulated rubbish, which will help us preserve this historic canal for years to come.

To book onto the open day, please visit our Eventbrite page.


During the drainage of the Hertford Union volunteer groups will be heading down to the canal bed to remove debris. An opportunity to see the canal from a new perspective and learn about its history and treasures.

Volunteer events will run from 10am-2pm every Thursday and Friday from the 27 January, to the 25 February.

To book your space please visit out Eventbrite page.

Background Information

We are concerned about degradation of the waterway walls and towpath of the Regent’s and the Hertford Union Canals for nearly 20 years. A major works project in 2010 began a complex programme of repairs beginning in the vicinity of Bonner Hall Bridge (Bridge 53) on the Regent’s Canal, which involved the reconstruction of three sections of collapsed waterway wall of varying lengths up to about 20m. Repair costs for each location were between £175k to £200k reflecting the challenges of enabling access, overcoming restrictions associated with live services and accommodating

Our major works programme continued in January 2021, including a detailed survey of the waterway walls, vegetation removal, resetting of coping stones, repairs to the narrows and approach walls of Grove Road Bridge (Bridge 2), repairs to a 25m-long collapsed section of waterway wall, and some 50m length of polyurethane grouting of the towpath side waterway wall. The dewatering of the canal, enabling the works attracted a lot of interest from local communities with volunteers assisting us in the recovery of detritus (including motor bikes) and historic artefacts (including a WWII helmet) from the dry bed of the canal, which was supported by a major grant from the Heritage Stimulus Fund.

What to expect?

This phase of the works continues our commitment to improving the waterway for the community to enjoy., and takes place, between Grove Road Bridge (Bridge 2) and Top Lock (Lock 1). The primary focus is on the towpath side waterway wall, given the issues identified with the high level of usage.  

Fish Rescue

In order to undertake the works, the canal will be dewatered between Grove Road Bridge (Bridge 2) and Top Lock (Lock 1). This process will involve installing a dam underneath Grove Road Bridge and draining the water through Top Lock into the pound below. As the water level drops, a systematic fish rescue will be undertaken. All fish in this section of the canal will be carefully recovered from the water and transferred in large buckets for prompt release in adjacent lengths of the canal.

The Work

This project will review all the defects to the waterway walls and the voids below the towpath that have been identified and repair those that are most likely to cause displacement of coping stones, depressions in the towpath or total collapse over the next fifteen years

The waterway wall repair work will typically involve the removal of loose and broken brickwork and masonry and replacing with either recovered (where available) or new materials on a like-for-like basis. Open joints will be repointed with lime mortar. The profile of new brickwork and masonry will aim to match the original as closely as possible.

Included in the scope of works are repairs to elements of two significant historic structures, both of which are statutorily designated:

  • the narrows and approach walls of Three Colt Bridge (Bridge 4), a scheduled monument and Grade II*-listed building, and
  • the approach walls of Top Lock (Lock 1) a Grade II-listed building.

In addition, there are works at Grove Road Bridge (Bridge 2) and Skew Bridge, Old Ford Road (Bridge 3).

Key Dates

Works starts - 4 January

Dam installation, and dewatering from 10-13 January 2022

Fish Rescue from 13-14 January 2022

Open days from 18–19 February 2022

Hertford Union Canal

At just 2km long, what the Hertford Union Canal lacks in length it makes up for in charm. It runs alongside leafy Victoria Park in Tower Hamlets, with its lakes, fountain, sculptures, children’s playgrounds, tree trails and cafes. It even has a graffiti wall that provides a vibrant backdrop to the bottom lock on the Hertford Union Canal in Hackney Wick.

The Hertford Union Canal is popular not only with boaters; its towpath is used daily by hundreds of walkers, joggers and cyclists. We are closing the towpath for the duration of the work, but the public will be redirected through the park. Bridges across the canal, for example Three Colt Bridge (Bridge 4) on Gunmakers Lane, will remain open throughout the work and offer good vantage points from which to view the empty canal and the ongoing repairs.

Heritage England LogoHere For Culture logo

Last date edited: 23 February 2022