Welcome to Hell

© 2009 Peter Marshall

Welcome to Hell’ says the graffiti on the bridge over the Lea Navigation at Hackney Wick, at the side of the path which takes site workers onto the Olympic park there, and the rest of us across to the tow path. It’s perhaps a little of an overstatement, although the pit of photographers in the image on the blue fence at left is surely  one of Satan’s finest torments.

The walk along the top of the Northern Outfall Sewer through the site is also no longer the delight it used to be, with bored security men stationed every few yards along it and a fence restricting access to a fairly narrow path along it.  Here and there are a few bushes or small trees surrounded by plastic fencing and announcing they are to be preserved while the rest of the greenery on the ‘Greenway‘ is doubtless to be razed and replace by something much more domesticated – perhaps neatly trimmed grass. At the moment it still has the old sickly-sweet sewage smell, but doubtless there are plans to deal with that (perhaps with tons of those highly noxious air fresheners that make my eyes sting!)

The glory of the Greenway, and of the Bow Back Rivers to which we no longer have access, lay in their wildness and disorder, a little bit of nature reclaiming the polluted urban space in the gaps between productive industries with some remarkable degree of success.  After 2012 we can expect a similar process  to occur – but perhaps more slowly – around the acres of concrete white elephants that will be left.

At the moment the whole stretch of Greenway south of the railway to Stratford High Street is closed for the next few months, with a diversion around by Pudding Mill Lane DLR  station, and further closures are planned for other sections and the navigation tow path.

I was sorry to miss Hackney Wick’s great art events recently, but perhaps its most vital art is visible at any time, though I suspect it may at some point disappear under Olympic whitewash. Here’s a small sample:

© 2009 Peter Marshall

You can see it larger, and some more examples and other pictures from the Olympic area in August 2009 on My London Diary, where you can also find pictures of the area from around 2003 on – and in particular something most months since Jan 2007. There are more pictures from 1983 to around 2005 on my Lea Valley – River Lea site (urgently in need of updating – I have so much more which should be on it.)

© 2005 Peter Marshall
Channelsea River and Manor Gardens Allotments, 2005

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