|Desborough Island and Cut map|
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 a very slight curve 1093 metres long. Its geodesic length is 1084 metres ("as the crow flies"), and its construction created Desborough Island. Two bridges were built across the cut to link to 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 a rare stretch on the Thames having alternative main navigation channels and is the longest such alternative. Navigation transit markers stand alongside it as a traditional method for powered boats to check their speed.