The cut was dug between 1930 and 1935, taking the river on a straight course between Weybridge and Walton, and avoiding a meandering stretch past Shepperton and Lower Halliford. It is 3/4/mile (1 km) and its construction created Desborough Island. Two bridges were built across the cut to link the island which contains a water treatment works and a large extent of open space used for recreation. The cut alleviated flooding in Shepperton and halved the distance of travel on that part of the river.
The cut creates the only stretch on the river where there are two alternative main navigation channels. There are navigation transit markers alongside the cut to enable powered boats to check their speed.