• Limehouse takes its name from the numerous lime kilns (like the one below) located here from the 14th century onwards. These were used to burn the chalk brought up the Thames from Kent, producing lime for London’s building industry (Winn 2012, p. 150).
93-101 Three Colt Street, c1900 (Davies 2009, p. 231)

A sketch of a historic lime kiln (artist: John Johnson)

  • Limehouse Lock: The Regent’s Canal was built during the 19th century and connects Regents park with the Thames at Limehouse Lock.
Limehouse Lock in 1823
  • The 21st Century: Limehouse was hit badly during the Blitz.
  • Around 1900: 85-93 Ropemakers Field, Limehouse, c1900 (Davies 2009, p. 231).
  • After the Blitz: No.3 Commando 5 troop – Limehouse 1944
  • London’s first Chinatown: Chinese sailors bringing tea settled in the area and by the 1880s Limehouse had become London’s first Chinatown (Winn 2012, p. 150 & Davies 2009, p. 230).
  • Limehouse Marina: In the late 20th century, the derelict Regent’s Canal Docks were converted into the Limehouse Marina that we see today.
  • Literary history: ‘In 1820 the young Charles Dickens visited his godfather in Limehouse and knew the district well for 40 years… Other popular writers have been fascinated by Limehouse: Oscar Wilde in “Dorian Gray”; Arthur Conan Doyle, who sent Sherlock Holmes in search of opium provided by the local Chinese immigrants’ (Ian McKellen, http://www.thegrapes.co.uk/history.php ).
  • Residents of Limehouse include the actor Sir Ian McKellen, Matthew Parris, comedy actress Cleo Rocos, actor Steven Berkoff, comedian Lee Hurst and politician Lord David Owen.
  • Limehouse Nowadays