We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.

Limehouse Cut is a historic landmark - the oldest canal in London.

Limehouse Basin Limehouse Basin

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A floating towpath forms part of a waterside walk along the canal, exploring a recently regenerated area of East London.

The canal is at the heart of the area’s industrial heritage, dating back to 1766. It links the River Thames at Limehouse Basin to the River Lee in Bromley-by-Bow.

Find stoppages, restrictions and other navigational advice for this waterway.

Days out

The waterways in and around London simply abound with fabulous places for a family day out. What's more, an afternoon spent feeding the ducks, walking along the towpath and watching the colourful narowboats comes absolutely free. We've put together some useful family guides to our best waterside destinations.

Download your free guide

The history

Navigating from the River Lee to the River Thames using nature's intended route necessitates traversing Bow Creek, a winding tidal waterway not best suited to inland vessels.

The River Lea Act 1766 authorised the construction of the Limehouse Cut, a straight section linking the Lee Navigation at Bromley-by-Bow to the Thames at Limehouse. It saved sailing barges coming down the Lee to London from having to wait for the tide before navigating the long southward loop of the Thames around the Isle of Dogs. Historically the Limehouse Cut attracted an unsavoury reputation, but massive redevelopment over recent years has improved both the canal and the surrounding area substantially.

Limehouse Basin

The exit lock from the Cut to the Thames was replaced in 1968 by a short length of new canal linking the Limehouse Cut with the Regent's Canal Dock. No longer used for transhipment between canal craft and coastal vessels this is now known as Limehouse Basin and has been transformed with new housing, a marina and a wide range of environmental improvements including walkways and boaters facilities.