diamond geezer

 Saturday, September 26, 2015

Remember pre-Olympic Stratford?

 Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Carpenters Lock and footbridgeAt the other end of the Old River Lea, at the very heart of the Olympic Park site, stands Carpenters Lock. 'Crumbles' might be a better word than 'stands', to be honest. There have been no boats through this dilapidated structure for years, and the access footpath was fenced off a few years ago to deter all but the most determined photographer. No point in any last minute restoration. Olympic architects have other plans for this spot, with the central Olympic spine path due to plough across the river right here. Which is a shame, because there's a perfectly decent footbridge close by already. It's a gently humping blue-green bridge with latticed sides, used by long-dead horses to tow barges downstream towards the Thames. Shame that it's a little on the narrow side, and would almost certainly collapse under the weight of spectator footflow when the basketball arena is up and running. But don't worry. This iconic bridge appears to be marked as a thin stripe on legacy plans for the Olympic Park, so I have every hope that it'll survive the oncoming bulldozer onslaught intact. I look forward to standing here again.
It's been eight years, two months and three weeks.

And at long last the old iron footbridge has reopened.



The bridge's location has been its medium-term misfortune but its long-term salvation. Linking stadium to park, it couldn't be opened during the Games themselves because one side was ticketed and the other was full public access. And yes, it's also ridiculously thin and could never have coped with spectator footfall anyway. As Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has opened up, and that's eighteen months now, it's remained blocked by barriers because Stadium Island isn't yet publicly accessible. But finally this week (probably in relation to Rugby World Cup action) the barriers on the bridge have come down, and look like staying away into the foreseeable future.

It is a lovely old bridge, all grooved and cobbly. The uneven surface was all the the better for keeping a proper foothold in days gone by, but makes for a right bumpy journey on a bike, and probably isn't ideal with a pushchair either. The width also makes it difficult to cross, not quite one person at a time, but you'll think twice about stepping up at the same time as someone else. What's particularly nice is the opportunity to stand low above the water and look down the channel (here a choice of three), and perhaps get rather closer to some of the birds swimming underneath. Plus of course it allows access onto the tip of Stadium Island for the first time in, well yes, eight years, two months and three weeks.



When West Ham move into the 2012 bowl the area surrounding the stadium will be opened to public, extending QEOP onto the western side of the City Mill River. The slopes are already landscaped, with a series of long shallow ramped paths leading down through a forest of trees to reach the towpath. There's planning permission on an upper walkway for West Ham's iconic Champions Statue to be relocated - that's the bronze of Bobby Moore and other 1966 World Cup heroes, rent asunder from the Barking Road and resettled in E20. I don't know how that's going to go down in Upton Park. More popular, I suspect, will be the long-awaited appearance of the Olympic Bell, as rung by Bradley Wiggins at the start of the 2012 Opening Ceremony. It "may occasionally be rung to celebrate special occasions, but will not be in general use", so don't get any ideas about coming along for a bong.

Up top may remain inaccessible, but the footbridge does finally link to (and unlock) the towpath along the Old River Lea. This was always a favourite walk of mine pre-2007, weaving through a woody corridor beneath the Marshgate Lane Trading Estate. Quite a few of those trees have been allowed to survive, as have a couple of bulb-headed iron mooring posts. Where the Pudding Mill River once broke away downstream now only a brief stubby inlet remains, its resident moorhens unaware of how much more water they could have lorded over a decade ago. But the stadium now looms large on the opposite bank, its corporate hospitality backstage area now fully revealed, significantly diminishing any former feelings of isolation.



The towpath along the Old River Lea is a potentially dangerous spot, so inflated orange rings have been hung from posts spaced out along its length. And each has been labelled "LIFEBOUY" in large black letters, because spelling isn't a speciality hereabouts, and quality management doubly so. Huge black gates, and two beady security cameras, lurk beneath one of the spectator access bridges. Not far after there's ramped access to the Park's outer Loop Road, access to which opened up last month, finally completing a pedestrian link to the top of the Greenway. And yay, it's also now possible to walk all the way through to Old Ford Lock, ducking beneath twin pipes to rejoin the Lea towpath proper. That walk I used to enjoy until 2007 is properly open again, and about time too. [6 photos]


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream