Limehouse Cut
 

 

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LIMEHOUSE CUT, BROMLEY LOCK and BRITANNIA LOCK

Lock State Date Length Length - Working Distance Width Fall Removed or bypassed
Bromley Lock Built 1770   95' 0'' 20' 0''    
 Bromley Lock (Brick and stone)* Report 1917     22' 0''    
Britannia Lock Built 1859     20' 0''    
Britannia Lock (Brick and stone)* Report 1917     22' 0''    
Britannia (Conversion to Guillotine)     ~ ~    
 

* 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.

Britannia Lock

Census/Date

Name

Title

Wife

Location given by enumerator/Comments

Source Reference

23.7.1920  On the transfer of Porter….roughs broke into the cottage and damaged the water and gas fittings….Lock keeper Griffiths from Limehouse Lock should move into the house (NA Rail 845/47)

18.6.1920

John Porter

Constable

for regulation of traffic between Limehouse and Britannia.  Transferred to Aqueduct Lock

NA Rail 845/47

"By the concussion on Wednesday morning last June 13th (1917), three panes of glass were broken in the (Britannia) cottage and a small crack in the house wall is reported". (LMA ACC 2423/016)  This was as a result of  the first daylight air raid on London, carried out by 14 Gotha bombers.  162 people were killed and 432 injured.
2.4.1911 John Porter (60) Canal Traffic manager Mary Lee Conservancy House, Britannia Bridge, Commercial Road RG14PN1565 RG78PN55 RD20 SD2 ED18 SN323

13.1.1905  Chappell paid 10/- for the damage done by the high tides on 30.12.1904 (NA Rail 845/32)

13.1.1905  Porter paid £2.0.0 for the damage done by the high tides on 30.12.1904 (NA Rail 845/32)

31.3.1901

John Porter (50)

Lea Conservancy Servant

Mary

Lea Conservancy House (Britannia Lock House in summary)

Lo/Limehouse/Limehouse/11/53

5.4.1891

John McAlpine (46)

Lock keeper

Eliza

Britannia Lock House

Lo/Limehouse/11/46

10.2.1898 George Judge Constable Living in lock house (resigned from Conservancy on 29th February 1898) Eric Last
13.8.1881 Thomas Mott Lock keeper Appointed on trial. Has an excellent character and is a very suitable man for the post and has given every satisfaction in the discharge of his duties so far. (J Child) LMA ACC 2423/001
13.8.1881 Christopher Church Lock keeper Transferred to Tottenham Lock LMA ACC 2423/001

4.4.1881

Christopher Church (32)

Lock keeper

Charlotte

Lock House, Britannia Bridge

Lo/Linchouse/13/37

18.7.1879

Christopher Church

Asst Lock keeper

Appointed £1 per week

NA Rail 845/21

7.7.1876

William Webb

Lock keeper

discharged

NA Rail 845/20

28.3.1873

Webb

Lock keeper

Transferred from Limehouse

NA Rail 845/19

28.3.1873

Gamble

Lock keeper

Died

NA Rail 845/19

2.4.1871

Robert Gamble (58)

Lock keeper

Unm

Lea Cut Britannia Lock house

Lo/Limehouse St Anne/14/27

20.5.1869 Edward Chamberlain Reported death NA Rail 845/17
12.10.1867 Edward Chamberlain Allowed £5 to pay for fixtures at 16 Church Row, a house rented by the Trustees NA Rail 845/16
10.8.1867 Edward Chamberlain Collector of Tolls Resigned and allowed a pension of 14/- per week. NA Rail 845/16

15.8.1863

Thomas Nugent

Lock keeper

Deceased. 11 years service. Widow granted £20 to be administered by Rev E C R Jones Vicar of St Annes, Limehouse

NA Rail 845/15

18.4.1861

Edward Chamberlain

Collector

Granted extra 5/- per week for assistance of grandson

NA Rail 845/15

8.4.1861

Thomas H Nugent (38)

Lock keeper

Elizabeth

Lock Cut Side

Mx/Limehouse St Anne/Limehouse/16/8

15.3.1860 Edward Chamberlain The father is the oldest servant of the Trustees and requires rest altho' he wishes to reside and superintend.  I think it will not be extravagant to allow him in future 12/- per week to find his own assistant until he may wish to retire absolutely" N Beardmore NA Rail 845/15

21.1.1860

Edward Chamberlain

Collector

Letter requesting assistance as collector at Britannia

NA Rail 845/15

17.11.1855

21.10.1854

Thomas Nugent

Lock keeper

£1 per week. New Britannia Lock

NA Rail 845/14

NA Rail 845/14

21.10.1854 Edward Chamberlain Collector £1. 10. 0 per week NA Rail 845/14
 

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This site was last updated 16-Oct-2013