Limehouse, East London

Limehouse is a popular maritime district in the London borough of Tower Hamlets. This east-end neighborhood is centrally located between Stepney, Bow, Poplar, Canary Wharf, and Millwall and is just a stone-throw away from the River Thames.

Limehouse gets its name from the numerous limekilns operated by potteries on the bank of the River Thames in the 14th century. Here are even more historical facts about the district and some of the fun things to do during your visit to Limehouse.

How Limehouse Came to Be

Limehouse is an east-end neighborhood with incredible historical significance. It is here that England’s soft-paste porcelain was first made and also where London’s oldest canal was built.

But before these events, Limehouse was a hub for potteries serving the London Docks and, as noted, even got its name from this role. The district’s location close to the River Thames saw it become a popular port with extensive docks during medieval times. As time went by and more ships began coming in, Limehouse turned into a center for shipbuilding and chandlering.

In 1820, the Regent’s Canal Dock, a navigable basin between the Thames and the Canal system, was officially launched. Although Limehouse was already on a growth spurt, the canal’s opening proliferated its expansion, transforming it into a major distribution hub.

Unfortunately, its popularity fast declined after the arrival of the railway. Its docks closed in the 20th century, and the district is today a residential area with plenty of sights and sounds awaiting exploration.

Things to Do in Limehouse

If you’re visiting Limehouse for the first time, here are some fun ways to pass the time:

Enjoy a walk on the Thames Path

The Thames Path is a 183-mile paved trail stretching from Gloucestershire to Charlton. It runs along River Thames and takes hikers, joggers, and explorers like you past historic towns like Limehouse, water meadows, and villages. The path is also rich in wildlife, and if you’re lucky, you might spot the otter or the European water vole.

Visit Limehouse Basin

Although the London docks closed years ago, this navigable link between the River Thames and other canals is still operational. Today, it is a marina lined with narrowboats, yachts, and other water vessels. There are plenty of shops cafes and wildlife in the area, making it an excellent place to end the day as you take in the stunning water vistas.

Explore Narrow Street

A visit to Limehouse is never complete without exploring its oldest street, Narrow Street. It runs parallel to the Thames River, through Limehouse, and was built to protect riverside marshland from the river’s tides.

Despite the steady gentrification happening in Limehouse, Narrow Street still has its old-school charm and is even where you’ll find the few remaining Georgian terraced houses in London. Be sure to stop by The Grapes, a pub built in the 17th century and a favorite drinking hole among locals at one of the terraced houses.

Getting to Limehouse

Limehouse is only 2.6 miles from the city. It takes 15-35 minutes to get here by car and 15 minutes by transit. Hopefully, our list above makes your visit to this beautiful, historically significant district more seamless.