The river is an artificial channel, cut for the Startford Waterworks (later purchased by the East London Waterworks Company) in 1743, from the Old River Lee channel (above Old Ford Lock), to supply a reservoir at Saynes Mill, Stratford. It was widened to 100 feet (30.5 m) in the 1930s, as part of a project to prevent flooding in Stratford. The channel is lined with concrete slabs.
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