Posts Tagged ‘Eastway Cycle Circuit’

An Olympic Bike Ride

Tuesday, January 4th, 2022

Businesses later demolished at the heart of the site for London’s 2012 Olympics

An Olympic Bike Ride: At the end of 2002 I finally bought a Brompton, a rather expensive folding bicycle which then cost me around £600. Perhaps not a lot for a new bike then and certainly not now, but rather more than the £13-7s6d or so the other bike I was still riding had cost in 1958.

Clays Lane Housing Co-operative – demolished for the Olympics

I’d been thinking about it for years, and it would certainly have been very useful for the work that I’d been doing around outer London in the previous decade, but I’ve only used it infrequently for my photography.

Eastway Cycle Circuit – lost to the Olympics

Though it’s a great way to get to places, taking it by train or underground and riding from a convenient station, Bromptons are a powerful magnet for bike thieves, so easy to put in a car boot or van, and selling at a relatively high price. It isn’t safe to lock them anywhere in public view when even the best cycle lock can only detain the well-equipped thief for around 30 seconds.

Bully Fen Wood – Community Woodland lost to the Olympics

So rather than using it for my general photography – mainly of protests and other events – I’ve used it for cycle rides on which I’ve taken photographs, both around where I live – it’s easier to jump on and off than my full-size bike – and in and around London.

Factory on Waterden Road – demolished for the Olympics

Thursday 4th January 2007 was a nice winter’s day, not too cold and blue skies with just a few clouds, and I went with the Brompton to Waterloo and then on the Jubilee Line to Stratford. Preparations had begun for the 2012 London Olympics and I wanted to see and photograph what I could of the changes that were taking place.

The footbridge has been kept in the new Olympic Park

My account of the day on My London Diary begins with my tongue-in-cheek suggestion that it would have been much preferable on environmental ground to shut down Heathrow and use that as the Olympic site, but goes on to describe a conversation I had with one of the residents at Clays Lane, then about to be demolished (spelling etc corrected.)

‘he talked of living in a fascist state, with lack of consultation and individual powerlessness, and of the games as having always had a militaristic overtone. hardly surprising there is little support for the games here, as initial promises that people from the Clays Lane Housing Co-operative would be rehoused in conditions “as good as, if not better than” their present estate were soon changed to “at least as good as in so far as is reasonably practicable.”‘

My London Diary

Work on the site seen from the Greenway

From Clays Lane I moved to the Eastway Cycle Track, already closed and fenced off – I decided against going through a gap in the fence to ride around it. The Community Woodland at Bully Fen Wood was also already closed. and I cycled on around the roads at the north of the site to Hackney Wick.

Pudding Mill River and Marshgate Lane – all now gone

Along Waterden Road I photographed some of the other industrial sites that were to be lost to the games, then turned along Carpenters Road and into Marshgate Lane, all soon to be fenced off and everthing on them destroyed. After taking pictures around Marshgate Lane I went back and into Hackney Wick, photographing the Kings Yard workshops on Carpenters Road soon to be demolished on my way.

Kings Yard – demolished for the Olympics

Hackney Wick to the west of the Lea Navigation is largely outside the Olympic compulsory purchase area, but some large areas of industry were scheduled for demolition and I took more pictures. I found the towpath here beside the navigation still open and rode down it to Stratford High Street, where more industry to the north of the road is also going.

Canary Wharf from Stratford Marsh

I spent some time going up the roads and paths here going from the High Street into Stratford Marsh which were still open, then went east along the top of the outfall sewer past areas also covered by the Olympic CPO.

St Thomas Creek, Bow Back Rivers – factories at left and right to be demolished

There was still a little light and I came down from the ‘Greenway’ and cycled down to Bow Creek from West Ham, going down the path on the west side of the creek to the Lower Lea Crossing. I wanted a picture showing the Pura Foods site then being demolished, but also made a number of other twilight pictures from this elevated viewpoint, and also some from the Silvertown Way viaduct as I made my way to Canning Town Station for the train home.

Pura Foods being demolished for London City Island development

Many more pictures from this ride on My London Diary, starting a little way down the January 2007 page.


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Stratford 2005

Saturday, January 23rd, 2021

Footbridge at Stratford to Carpenters Estate

Back in 2005 many were still hoping that London would not win their bid to hold the Olympics, particularly those who lived in the area who could see how their lives would be disrupted by this huge event (though in the end it was far worse than they had imagined.)

One of many businesses on Carpenters Road

They also saw how it would impact on the longer term development of the area. Many planners warned how it would distort the proper planning of the area and its future; although investment in the area was welcome, much or most of it would be put into white elephants which would have little long-term utility.

Waterworks River and Old River Lea at Carpenters Lock

On Sunday 23 January 2005 I took my bike with me to Stratford and cycled to the meeting point at Temple Mills for a tour of the Olympic area with No to London 2012, a coalition of east london community groups and social justice campaigners.

Bully Point Nature Reserve

Around 20 of us then took a walk around the area, getting some informative comments at a number of locations. As I remarked in my write-up of the event in My London Diary:

It was an opportunity that IOC delegates are not likely to have, with their view of these particular areas expected to be with a pair of binoculars from a distant tower block.

My London Diary: January 2005

I was already familiar with the area, having photographed around it since the 1980s, but still learnt a lot from some of those who spoke – and had just a little to add.

BMX track at Eastway Cycle Circuit is marked out

On our route around and also on my way to the meeting point I took the opportunity to take a few pictures, and after I’d sat down after the tour to eat my sandwiches by the Lea Navigation, to cycle to another area which was to be affected by the Olympics, Marsh Lane in Leyton, before making my way back to Stratford.

Wick Field, Hackney Wick

We were lucky with the weather, mild for January and with some sunshine, and I’d enjoyed the fairly short rides as well as the guided tour. I’d made several hundred pictures, including a number of panoramic images and felt I’d had a good day.

Leyton Marsh

Of course, London lost – and was condemned to host the Olympics. It was an event that caught the imagination of many of the public for the few weeks it was on, but has left a toxic legacy that will last decades.

You can see more of these pictures on My London Diary, where I’ve also written more about it.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Eastway & Stratford

Monday, January 4th, 2021
Eastway Cycle Circuit, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36n-54_2400
Eastway Cycle Circuit, 1983

I hadn’t taken my bike when I visited the Eastway Cycle Circuit in 1983, so I was walking around the area and keeping out of the way of the few cyclists who were using the track. It was built on a landfill site in 1975, the first purpose-built road cycling venue in the UK, with a one mile circuit used for road racing and time trials, around which many well-known cyclists including the legendary Eddy Merckx raced, and later hosted this country’s largest weekly mountainbike cross-country race series.

Eastway Cycle Circuit, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36n-01_2400
Eastway Cycle Circuit, 1983

The last race took place here on October 21, 2006, with part of the site being used to build the Olympic village. There were a number of protests by cyclists about the closure and what many saw as an inadequate replacement a short distance away in the Olympic park next to the A12. the Lea Valley VeloPark, particularly after its size was reduced from the originally promised 34 hectares to a mere 10.

Eastway Cycle Circuit, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36n-62_2400
Eastway Cycle Circuit, 1983

Running along the west side of the cycle circuit was the Channelsea River, once a major stream of the River Lea going close to the centre of Stratford, but now reduced to a minor ditch. The pattern of waterways in the area is hard to understand with a number of natural and man-made streams, some possibly built to power medieval mills but I think much of its flow was probably diverted into the Waterworks River perhaps around 1745 when the West Ham Waterworks Company opened its works. More changes were made in an extensive programme of flood prevention in the 1920s and 30s, and it was probably then that the Channelsea was severely reduced in status.

Eastway Cycle Circuit, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36n-63_2400
Eastway Cycle Circuit, 1983
36n-64_2400
Eastway Cycle Circuit, 1983
Channelsea River, Eastway Cycle Circuit, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36n-65_2400
Eastway Cycle Circuit, 1983
Freightliner Terminal, Cold Stores, Stratford, Newham, 1983  36n-52_2400
Freightliner Terminal, Cold Stores, Stratford, Newham, 1983

Stratford expanded greatly as a railway town, and much of the area to the north of its centre between Carpenters Road and Leyton Road, south of where the Cycle Circuit was built was covered by an incredible mesh of tracks, engine sheds and railway works by the start of the twentieth century. Most of this had gone by the time I took these pictures, replaced in part by cold stores and a Freightliner Terminal. Now there is a rather bleak Olympic Park and a vast shopping centre along with new housing, and also a new high-speed rail line.

Cold Stores, Stratford, Newham, 1983  36n-53_2400
Cold Stores, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36n-53_2400
Stratford Station, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35r-15 (2)_2400
Stratford Station, Stratford, Newham, 1983

Stratford Station could still show an impressive amount of railway. Since 1983 it has also added new lines, with the DLR from Poplar terminating here and the Jubilee Line opening at the end of the last century. The old North London service which I used to travel here from Richmond to take these pictures has now been rebranded as a part of the London Overground and terminates here, with its parts of its track south of Stratford now a part of the DLR to Canning Town and beyond.

Clicking on any of the pictures in this post will take you to a larger version in my Flickr album River Lea – Lea Navigation 1981-1992.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.