#LimehouseCut project: liquid London, an underworld of waterways, tunnels and locks

Poplar and Limehouse, the neighbourhoods surrounding the Limehouse Cut, have the potential to provide infrastructure and space for London’s creative businesses, especially as prices rise elsewhere. The #LimehouseCut project – a collaboration between Landscape Interface Studio and Shared Assets, will look at how these neighbourhoods can retain existing light industry as regeneration happens, and examine how the creative industries can support this process but taking care to retain distinctive qualities of place rather than gentrification.

Perceptions of the Limehouse Cut are often that it is a section of London’s canal network that links more desirable destinations – sometimes foreboding, lacking appeal or amenities.  here’s comments taken from a recent blog posted in the Washington Post, “Gliding through London on a narrowboat”…….

We were motoring through the murky waters of Limehouse Cut, a small section of the vast canal network that striates the city, a metropolitan wasteland stretching before us. Foreboding brick warehouses, barbed-wire fences and graffiti murals lined the banks of the canal. The runners and bikers who had populated the bustling towpath throughout our weekend voyage had disappeared, and the landscape had taken a grittier turn…….We’d decided to venture into territory that was slightly off the map we’d been given at the marina, but we expected to reconnect with familiar waters at any minute. Slightly worried, I scanned the badlands, pockmarked with decommissioned smokestacks and abandoned buildings, for familiar landmarks: a bridge marker, a signpost, a spray-painted clue as to where we were headed. Nothing.

Over three days of urban canal cruising, my family and I were experiencing something intoxicating: liquid London, an underworld of waterways, tunnels and locks coursing through some of the city’s most eclectic neighborhoods….”

The following are a series of images taken from the canal as the boat travels from the Limehouse Basin north towards the Olympic Park.  These images document the local character bordering the canal and reveals some of the activity taking place both on and beside the water.  Space on the canal side is limited to a footpath on the eastern edge of the canal shared by pedestrians and cyclists.


 Creative  graffiti….comments……spray-painted clues…….



It’s interesting to note that this year for the first time there is a canoe hire company, Moo Canoes, based in Limehouse harbour http://canoelondon.com/moo-canoes-canoe-hire-london/. This adds a new dimension to the use of the area and from observation (having been moored in Limehouse Basin for a couple of weeks) they are being well used. The lack of locks means that there is a nice long stretch from Limehouse up to the Olympic Park which is unimpeded.


Improving biodiversity in city canals and rivers is hugely important.  “Delivering London 2012: parklands and waterways” an Institute of Civil Engineers report describes the rational behind the landscaping and waterways regeneration of the Olympic Park to the north of the  Limehouse Cut.   The parklands and waterways are the natural, living heart of the Olympic Park in London.  Previously, the Head of National Programmes at The Canal and River Trust, Andrew Stumpf, talked to Landscape Interface Studio, Kingston University about the Olympic site and the contribution of canals and waterways to the Olympic Park’s landscaping and biodiversity.  To read the full blog and watch the video interview click here


Near Violet Road Bridge, there is a large mural depicting Limehouse Cut, giving distances to the two ends in the form of time taken to walk there.  The mosaic is located by the side of Limehouse Cut near the bridge where Morris Road crosses the canal. The mosaic shows the route of the canal and some buildings beside it and depicts The Cut, opened in 1770, providing the means to carry goods by water from the docks to the inland waterways. For many years the Limehouse Cut was full of barge traffic, but after the railways were built in the mid 19th century it was used less and less. The illustration, which is just part of a long mosaic, shows the canal entering the Limehouse Basin.



Read more about this project  “#LimehouseCut pilot project – linking place and creativity” and Localities + the Creative Industries: The Right Place at the Right Time



One comment

  1. Pingback: Inside Out Festival – Limehouse Cut Floating Workshop | Landscape Interface Studio

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