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Limehouse area guide

Limehouse | E14

Area Guide

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Limehouse Area Info

Limehouse Area Info

The riverside neighbourhood of Limehouse is a well-established, clean, residential quarter of east London with the Limehouse Basin and the attendant Limehouse Marina probably the area’s most distinctive feature. Today, it bears little resemblance to its somewhat shady past when it was a significant port, as well as being the centre of shipbuilding and rope making in London. As such, the area attracted more than its fair share of dodgy dealers, looking to make money in – how shall we say it – ‘imaginative’ ways. It was also a mecca for seaman, particularly from China, India, Asia and Africa, many of who settled in the area, creating communities based on immigration, like much of east London at the time. Indeed, for many years London’s first Chinatown was here, where you’d find some of capital’s best Chinese restaurants, frequented by the likes of Sean Connery and Barbara Streisand, no less!

However, due to significant bombing in the Second World War and the subsequent closure of the dock, Limehouse went into a steep decline in the late 60s and 70s, and it was only with the development and expansion of Canary Wharf in the late 20th century that it started to really go up in the world. The redevelopment of the basin and marina further helped to reverse the area’s fortunes and is now home to large yachts and small barges.

Narrow Street is the main residential street running through Limehouse and is still lined with Georgian townhouses, as well as swish river facing apartments. Cheaper than Wapping and quieter than Canary Wharf, the area is popular with city workers looking for a quick commute.

Indeed, Limehouse station on the Dockland Light Railway is halfway between Bank and Canary Wharf and there are also trains to Fenchurch Street from here.

Limehouse is serviced by some excellent schools, most notably Sir William Burrough Primary School on Salmon Lane, which is rated outstanding by Ofsted, while nearby Stepney All Saints School is rated by Ofsted as an outstanding secondary.

Things To Do In Limehouse

As well as residential housing, Narrow Street is also home to several excellent restaurants and pubs, including The Grapes, one of London’s oldest hostelries, dating from 1583, and where back in the day a certain Charles Dickens could be found propping up the bar. Here you’ll also find The Narrow, an upmarket restaurant/bar owned by Gordon Ramsay and overlooking the Thames. Here you can enjoy classic dishes, weekend roasts, signature cocktails and more, all accompanied by the most spectacular, panoramic views.

Commercial Road, meanwhile, is where you’ll find the Troxy, an iconic Grade II listed art deco building that holds all manner of glamorous events, including comedy nights, live music and drag acts. For a good, old-fashioned, east end boozer, however, it’s got to be the George Tavern, also on Commercial Road, which also happens to be an arts, music and performance venue and where landlady Pauline is a local legend.

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History of Limehouse

The name 'Limehouse' is often wrongly thought to be derived from the nickname for British sailors, or 'limeys'. In fact, the name relates to the local lime kilns that served shipping in the London Docks back in the 14th century. A former marshland, the area of Limehouse became a significant port in late medieval times and soon the shipbuilding, rope-making and merchant industries thrived. In 1820 the Limehouse Basin opened as the Regent's Canal Dock, connecting the Thames and the canal system. Limehouse was the site of the first London case of cholera in 1832, while both Charles Dickens and Thomas Burke describe the area's notorious opium dens. The term 'Limehousing' means to make an incendiary political speech, and followed an attack on the House of Lords made by Chancellor David Lloyd George in 1909. Contemporary residents include the actor Sir Ian McKellen and the journalist Matthew Parris, while celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey owns the popular gastropub, The Narrow.
The Narrow gastropub
The Narrow gastropub

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