This district in Tower Hamlets took its name from the 14th century lime kilns that used to operate by the river Thames. In 1820, Regent’s Canal Dock (now Limehouse basin) opened and served as an important link between the Thames and the canal system where ocean going ships could unload their cargo to barges to be transported around London and the rest of England.
Other scraps of historical interest for Limehouse are that it was the original location for Chinatown in London. Coming over with the trade for tea and opium in the 19th century, it was here that they established their community as well as tea houses and opium dens. With the Second World War seeing the Luftwaffe raining down bombs on the area, after it was over many of the Chinese located to Soho where modern day Chinatown can be seen.
Historical buildings in the area worth a look are the Limehouse Accumulator Tower. Although it sounds like an interesting building for a bookmakers, it is in fact one of the first uses of hydraulic power in 1869. It was used to drive cranes, capstans and gates.
Limehouse Town Hall is another place worth a look. Built in 1881, it has since changed use numerous times from being an administrative centre, but has always been and is still in the service of the public.
If you take a walk down Narrow Street, it is here you will see The Grapes public house, which apparently Charles Dickens used to stand on tables and sing in as a boy. Built around 1720, it is a rare example of Georgian brickwork. Narrow Street is also a place where Turner and Whistler are said to of painted, with its views over the Thames, there was plenty for inspitation.
Limehouse , as with the rest of Docklands, has received much investment over recent years. Warehouses from the industrial past have now been converted into desirable residences, new luxury apartment buildings have been built and the dock is now home to Limehouse Marina which pleasure craft and sea going vessels use.
Of course, to meet the tastes of the local residents, restaurants, shops and bars have been opened in the area, the most famous of which is probably Gordon Ramsey’s The Narrow gastropub.