diamond geezer

 Friday, December 21, 2018

Stratford's post-Olympic zone continues to grow and change. Here are some updates from the southern half of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

This is one of the reasons Crossrail is late - the Pudding Mill substation. When the power was switched on in November last year two of its transformers blew up, which wasn't in the plan, and delayed the testing of trains in the tunnels by four months. Other issues like incompatible signalling and incomplete stations have proved more intractable, but Pudding Mill didn't help. Crossrail's current worksite at the tunnel portal is accessed through an anonymous door beneath the railway bridge to the the north of the DLR station.

This is Bream Street, one of the new housing developments on land flanking the Olympic Park. Specifically it's at Old Ford Lock, opposite (and overshadowing) the former lockkeepers cottages used for C4's Big Breakfast. It's being built across the yard of Foreman's salmon smokery, previously the fabled 'Fish Island Riviera' during London 2012. The development includes 170 canalside homes, plus 22 affordable homes whose pauper purchasers will only be afforded adjacency to the street. According to the planning summary this is "outstanding architecture", but in truth it brings yet more brick-vernacular uniformity to the banks of the River Lea.

Where the warehouse studios at Vittoria Wharf once stood, the gap knocked through at the start of the year is being transformed into a new footbridge. Bridge H16 is intended to relieve the footbridge a short distance to the north which is about to be upgraded to deliver vehicles to the quieter end of Fish Island. The new bridge lands between the Bobby Moore Academy, primary version, and its sports pitches. As its abutment edges ever closer to the towpath, and workers with diggers continue to busy themselves, expect to see the span extending across the river in the New Year.

Moored opposite the end of the Hertford Canal, close to White Post Lane, is Barge East. This 114-year-old Dutch sailing barge is home to an "outdoor bar and kitchen" opened by three childhood friends earlier this year, and provides the first refreshment option for future residents of the non-existent suburb of Sweetwater. It looks cool, if perhaps pricey, with a 2 course Sunday roast starting at £22. The website boasts "the sunniest terrace in London", "the most magical eating and dining destination in London" and "there is no better waterside food and drink venue in London", so only visit with a huge pinch of salt.

What Boris nicknamed Olympicopolis, now known less prosaically as East Bank, is about to take its first steps towards construction. This tongue of land lies between Carpenters Road and the City Mill River, just to the north of the aquatics centre, and has hosted several fairgrounds and one-off events during its post-Olympic fallow phase. But last week its riverside path was sealed off and heavy blocks have been laid around the perimeter ready to support a pre-construction wall. The BBC are coming, and the V&A, and the Smithsonian and a lot of flats, but for now it's just a few portakabins at one end of a featureless void.

The construction of East Bank requires Carpenters Road to be closed for a number of years, starting on the first weekend in January. And that means the bus which currently runs along it, the 339, needs to be rerouted around the other side of the Olympic Stadium instead. After the bus stop by the Aquatics Centre it'll double back up the Loop Road (now called Sidings Street), rejoining the original route at White Post Lane. Along the way it'll serve two new schools, which is useful, and a university which hasn't been built yet, which isn't.

TfL's consultation for the re-routing confirms that 2% of existing passengers will be inconvenienced, that bus journeys will now take 1-2 minutes longer and that buses will still need to be diverted when there's an event on in the stadium. They also apologise that there won't be an eastbound bus stop outside the new secondary school due to "lack of space and other obstacles". I took a look and basically there's no pavement, otherwise the playground would have needed to be smaller, so pupils will need to saunter up the road to the UCL East bus stop instead. Last time I looked, no new bus stops were in place. The diversion begins on 29th December.

For a more enjoyable ride, pick up an electric scooter. Global start-up Bird have a presence at Here East, and have been offering a trial route up and down the park from the edge of the International Quarter. It's only possible because QEOP is private land, and because a GPS-lock prevents you riding it elsewhere. You have to download the app, it's only a short-term trial, and I think you have to pay. I didn't sign up, but I did see numerous scooterers (of all ages) having a whale of a time careering along the paths singly and in formation (and entirely ignoring the safety advice about wearing a helmet).

Oh, and the daffodils are out already.

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