diamond geezer

 Monday, April 16, 2007

Somewhere sporty: Bow Industrial Park
The 2012 Olympic Park straddles the corner of four London boroughs. The lion's share of the stadia, including the Aquatic Centre and the main Olympic Stadium, will be in Newham. Hackney gets the hockey and the handball. Waltham Forest gets a few specialist Paralympic facilities. And Tower Hamlets? We get the basketball. We're 'aving 'oops.

Only a tiny sliver of Tower Hamlets falls within the boundaries of the Olympic Park. The borough only has to sacrifice a thin strip of land, sandwiched inbetween two branches of the River Lea and the Silverlink railway (with the old C4 Big Breakfast house surviving unscathed at the southern tip [photos]). The majority of the land needed for 2012 is covered by the Bow Industrial Park - a very ordinary row of metal warehouse sheds like those you might find on the outskirts of any major town. I'd not dared to venture here before but, spurred on by my random-picked borough duties, I strolled brazenly past the security barrier and was promptly ignored by the guard. There wasn't much to see down the back of the warehouses - just a corrugated metal wall with tiny rear access doors, into which the occasional weekend employee disappeared. Across the road, behind another fence, lay the distribution centre for a nationwide wrought iron supplier. And round the front 30 major industrial units, each doomed to no more than three months of continued business. I spotted newspaper printers, timber merchants, glass manufacturers along with various other unidentifiable companies. Plus one quite surprising upmarket inhabitant - the Royal Opera House. A long pink lorry trailer was parked up outside unit 18, and on its side the Opera House's official gold logo [photo]. Presumably this is where the company's ballet costumes are stored, or where their operatic scenery is constructed and assembled. I hope they have somewhere else to go. Olympic shutdown begins in July, then five years of remediation and rebuilding before a brand new basketball stadium opens its doors on this site. Thirty industries relocated for the sake of a sport you probably won't even be watching come 2012. But hey, it's enough to make Tower Hamlets an Olympic borough. Slamdunk.
by train: Hackney Wick by bus: 276


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