* Both locks noted as "not used except for water drawing"
14.8.1767 The resolution was passed for the building of the Limehouse Cut. (NA Rail 845/50)
The last part of the Lee Navigation follows the 1¼ mile Limehouse Cut which was completed in 1770. On 16.3.1772, a Minute noted “The Cutt from Bromley to Limehouse and the deepening and widening thereof…to provide passing places”.
On 8.6.1776, Jeremiah Illsley was contracted to widen the Cut throughout for £975 and this was completed by 1.9.1777 so that barges could pass each other anywhere along the Cut. (NA Rail 845/5)
There were two locks or tide gates on the Limehouse Cut. The first was called Bromley Lock (employees shown in the Bow Locks table).
On 11.4.1783 The Surveyor was ordered to “make new ffenders and Galley Beams to Bromley Lock” (NARail 845/6)
19.12..1792 “The Collectors of Tolls at Limehouse and Bromley be provided with Lamps for their service in dark Nights” (NA Rail 845/52)
LMA ACC 2423/P729
The map above was drawn some time prior to 1850 and shows the mill pool above Bromley Mills and the narrow start to Limehouse Cut with the original Bromley Lock.
According to the Survey, Bromley Lock was rebuilt in 1854, in a slightly different position from the original, which was slightly to the east
The plan to the left shows Bromley Lock in 1864 spanned by the bridge carrying Four Mills Street (now the much wider A102M Blackwall Tunnel Approach). The circled gate survives today.
Plan: LMA ACC 2324/P441
All that is left of Bromley Lock
6.1.1888 Britannia and Bromley Locks. "The pointings and chambers of these locks were so filled up with mud, rubbish, old pans and kettles thrown in that when the gates were closed for the purpose of drawing the water at Limehouse or Bow the leakage was so great that we could not keep a head of water in the Cut so that before again drawing it was necessary to clear out the locks which has been done but the gates at Bromley still leak very much ..and will require a short stoppage for repair" (J Child) (LMA ACC 2423/003)
By 1899 it was reported that Bromley Lock was only used when the water was drawn down. Bromley Lock was finally removed except for one gate which can still be seen, behind the floating towpath.
The second was next to the Commercial Road Bridge, named Britannia Lock., which was originally built in 1853 to a size of 89’ 10’’ by 20’. On 1st January 1854, the Regents Canal Co. took possession of the Limehouse Cut below Britannia Lock (and also Limehouse Lock) and opened a link directly into Limehouse Basin, bypassing Limehouse Lock. This connection only lasted ten years and was filled in between 4th and 24th May 1864. (NA Rail 845/16). Navigation resumed using the original lock to the Thames.
During that period, the Regents Canal Company's Collectors (John Bigg, Richard James Larking and John Scholey) were appointed to make a return to Mr Glass "of all Barges passing between the Thames and the River Lee...at an expense not exceeding Five Pounds per annum"
In July 1870, Britannia Lock was reported not to be used except for drawing water.
In October 1877, in reference to “ the house here, occupied by Constable Ross, nothing be done at present (except) drainage to be provided” (NA Rail 845/21)
A survey of June 1880 shows the position of the lock house, the corner of Three Colt Street, the two walkways used by the lock keeper in operating the lock and the tide gates at the left hand end, referred to in the 1893 report below.
3.3.1888 "The Britannia Lock house has been thoroughly repaired and the floors raised and laid with wood in place of the concrete floors and the house placed in a very satisfactory state of repair, which it much needed...(J Child) (LMA ACC 2423/003)
LMA ACC 2423/275
3.11.1893. "I report on the proposed refixing of the tide gates at Britannia Lock. This lock was built some 50 years ago, at which time there was an entrance from the Limehouse Cut into the Regent's Canal Dock by the cut past Forest's Dock and as the water in the Regents Canal Dock was occasionally above the level of the Limehouse Cut it was thought that the water from the Dock would find its way into the Cut. Therefore when the Britannia Lock was built these double tide gates were fixed with the object of preventing this, but I have been unable to find any evidence that they were ever worked at all and certainly from the appearance of the pair removed some few months ago I should state...that they were never used. At any rate, the first pair were removed by Mr Beardmore some 25 years ago being regarded as useless. The others are now in the yard...they never were, nor could be, any use to keep out the tidal water, which comes into the Cut from many channels other than the Limehouse Lock....It would be futile to do so (i.e refix the gates)" J Child (LMA ACC 2423/004 and NA Rail 845/27)
23.10.1903 "As the flooring of this house has dropped into holes, I am having a new one fixed" - C Tween (LMA ACC 2423/007)
Until 2000 the levels in Limehouse Cut (and indeed, as far as Old Ford lock and around Bow Back Rivers) were affected by the high spring tides when the water overflowed Bow Locks and lifted the levels by up to 3’.
Britannia Lock was replaced by a guillotine tide gate during the British Waterways years after 1948.
This in turn became redundant and was removed in the 1990's
Courtesy of British Waterways
Despite the proximity of this Lock to Limehouse, the records make distinctions as to where people worked. However, it is probable that, in actuality, the men worked where they were needed.
This site was last updated 03-Mar-2021