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The Hertford Union Canal or Duckett's Canal is a short stretch (c. 1.5 km) of canal in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in east London. It connects the Regent's Canal to the Lee Navigation. It was opened in 1830 but quickly proved to be a commercial failure. It was acquired by the Regents Canal Company in 1857, and became part of the Grand Union Canal in 1927.
Like its 1766 predecessor, the Limehouse Cut, the Hertford Union Canal was intended to provide a straight short-cut between the River Thames and the River Lee Navigation, utilising a short stretch of the Regent's Canal, and thus bypass the tidal, tortuous and often silted Bow Back Rivers of the Lee for traffic on the Lee heading for the Thames, and to short-cut the journey from the Lee to places west along the Regent's Canal.
The canal was promoted by Sir George Duckett who succeeded in gaining an Act of Parliament that gained its Royal Assent on 17 May 1824, entitled An Act for making and maintaining a navigable Canal from the River Lee Navigation, in the parish of St. Mary Stratford Bow, in the county of Middlesex, to join the Regent's Canal at or near a Place called Old Ford Lock, in the parish of St. Matthew Bethnal Green, in the said county of Middlesex. The Act authorised Duckett to borrow up to £50,000 to fund construction, and to charge tolls for using the canal, initially one shilling (£0.05) per ton of goods carried. With Francis Giles appointed as engineer, the canal opened in 1830 and was for some years known as Duckett's Canal or Duckett's Cut. It was not a success commercially, and within a year offers to waive the tolls were being made. For several years around the 1850s it was unnavigable, as a dam was built across it to prevent the Regent's Canal losing water to it. After failed attempts to sell it in 1851, it was eventually acquired by the Regent's Canal Company and became a branch of that canal on 28 October 1857. The new owners removed the dam, and made the channel deeper and wider. When the Grand Union Canal Company acquired the Regent's Canal in 1929, it became part of that network. Today, it is maintained by British Waterways.
The canal starts at Hertford Union Junction between Mile End Lock and Old Ford Lock on the Regent's Canal. It passes along the north of Bow Wharf, redeveloped in the 1990s with shops and bars, and after Grove Road, passes south of Lakeview Estate, completed in 1958. For much of the rest of its route it is bounded on the north by Victoria Park. The canal joins the Lee Navigation just above Old Ford Lock.
Many of the associated locks, bridges and other features around the canal, date from the canal's opening in 1830 and are designated listed structures within a scheduled ancient monument.
The nearest London Overground station is Hackney Wick. The canal towpath is open to walkers and cyclists — without permit. At its eastern end, the towpath joins the Lea Valley Walk. At Hackney Wick, the Capital Ring crosses the canal; with section 13 proceeding north-west toward Stoke Newington and section 14, south-east — using The Greenway towards Beckton District Park. The towpath forms part of the "Limehouse Circuit"; commencing at Limehouse Basin and utilising the Limehouse Cut, Lee Navigation, Regent's Canal and Hertford Union in a circular five-mile walk.
The Olympic Park, London is under construction to the east of the Lee Navigation. During the games, there is proposed pedestrian and cycle access to the stadia via newly constructed bridges. In the legacy phase of the 2012 Summer Olympics, there is promised access to the Olympic Park and Bow Back Rivers.