REMS Walk along the Towpath of the Regent’s Canal

30 March 2012

On 21 March our walk started at Mile End, and we proceeded towards Limehouse, southwards along the canal.

Tall ship

There was a pleasant park on the left and we continued to Johnson’s lock. In the central island between the two locks is, according to a 1990 book about the canal, a post carrying a rack and pinion which can be used to operate the paddle between the two locks so as to control the flow between them. 

Almost opposite Johnson’s Lock used to be a gas works with associated wharves to accept deliveries from the canal. 

Nearby was the Ragged School, previously used by Dr Barnardo, now a museum. The museum was opened in 1990 in three canal side warehouses in Copperfield Road.

We passed beneath a railway bridge carrying the Docklands Light railway, this line was originally that of the London to Blackwall Railway and was the second railway line to open in London, in 1840. 

Originally the line was cable operated, which provided the bonus of safe-guarding from the sparks and cinders emitted by steam locomotives. 

The railway line concerned was closed to passengers in 1926, one of the legacies of the 1926 National strike, but was reopened as the first part of the DLR in 1987.

The Limehouse Basin, extensively redeveloped since 1983, is now used to moor millionaire’s yachts, instead of barges and lighters. 

Around the basin, which was formerly named Regent’s Canal Dock, were notices about the history and the wildlife of the area. 

Under our feet was the Limehouse Link, a road tunnel built to link the new, developments in Docklands with the A13. 

Skirting the eastern side of the Basin we crossed a bridge over the Limehouse Cut, which leads to the River Lea. 

Then we followed signs stating “Riverside Pubs” to the Grapes Public house, where we ordered lunch. During lunch we observed a tall ship sailing past which Mike Quinton photographed later on.

After lunch at the Grapes we walked alongside the Thames all the way to Wapping. Here we admired the elegant pictures on the walls of the station illustrating the East London Railway in the 1960s (steam and electric). 

We rode the one stop to Rotherhithe through the world's first tunnel under a river - built by Marc and Isambard Brunel. 

Alighting at Rotherhithe station it was a short walk to the Brunel Museum to be shown around by Robert Hulst, the curator. Tea and cake was the order of the day before making our way home.