Posts Tagged ‘London 2012’

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.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


Marshgate Lane

Friday, January 15th, 2021

Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1990 90-9h-53_2400-2
Marshgate Lane from Northern Outfall Sewer, 1990

Marshgate Lane runs through the centre of Stratford Mash and what became the London 2012 Olympic site. It’s southern end was a short distance north of the bridge over St Thomas’s Creek on Pudding Mill Lane, and it ran parallel and a few yards to the east of Pudding Mill Lane, which rejoined it just south of the Northern Outfall Sewer. Marshgate Lane then continued in its northerly route past Knobs Hill to run beside the Old River Lee and across both the City Mill River and the Waterworks River to Carpenters Road.

City Mill River, Marshgate Lane, from Greenway, Northern Outfall Sewer, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 33x-32_2400
Industry between Marshgate Lane and the City Mill River, 1983

It’s southern area still follows the same route, though it now starts at Stratford High St, which was previously Pudding Mill Lane, and north of the sewage outfall its route is completely different. But what was back in the 1980s a street lined for much of its route with industrial premises is now a wasteland with some athletic facilities, parts of which will shortly be covered with tall blocks.

Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 199090-9g22_2400
Maryland Plastics, St Thomas’s Creek, Pudding Mill Lane, 1983

As well as the Olympic devastation, Crossrail has also played havoc with the southern area. An earlier addition with little disruption was the Docklands Light Railway, extended to Stratford for the Olympics and opened to the public in 2011 with a station on Pudding Mill Lane, which gives considerably more convenient access to the area.

Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1990 90-9g24_2400
Marshgate Lane, 1990

It isn’t always easy to decide now exactly where I took some of these pictures as I wandered freely around the area, both on the streets, on the Greenway and other footpaths and through some small areas of waste land. So some pictures captioned as Marshgate Lane may actually be on Pudding Mill Lane or even Barbers Rd or Cooks Road.

Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1990 90-9g26_2400
Marshgate Lane, 1990

There was considerable opposition from some of the businesses in the area to the redevelopment for the Olympics, and for some it was the end of their business, while a few did well out of their relocation. I continued to photograph in the area during the redevelopment, though access to much of it was closed, the area surrounded by a blue fence and security guards. Now there is little to attract me back to Stratford Marsh, and my few visits before Covid have been sadly disappointing.

Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1990 90-9h52_2400
Marshagate Lane, 1990

More pictures from the 1980s on Flickr.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


Stratford Marsh & Carpenter’s Road

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

Pudding Mill River and Railway, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1990 90-9h66_2400
Pudding Mill River, Stratford Marsh, 1990

Continuing with pictures from my walks in the 1980s and early 1990s around the area destroyed for the London 2012 Olympics on Stratford Marsh. Although there was then considerable industry of various kinds across the area, many of the factories had closed, and some were derelict, partly as a result of Thatcher’s de-industrialisation policies, but also because of competition from more efficient industry abroad as well as from lower wage economies.

Pauls Cafe, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1990 90-9h63_2400
Paul’s Cafe served the many workers in the area

A few of the empty properties and sites were occupied by smaller local businesses such as car breakers and repair shops, and a few were transformed into artists studios – and I remember going to a great party in one of them off Marshgate Lane, though missing most such events as I lived thirty miles away on the other side of London.

City Mill River, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 33x-34_2400
This path beside the City Mill River was well trodden during the fishing season. 1983

This was clearly a liminal area, on the edge of London and in some respects on the edge of society, even though it was surrounded on all sides by the city which now sprawls out much further east. In it there were also areas of wilderness, with paths beside the various streams of the River Lea across the area often overgrown and some largish areas of now disused land.

Caravan, Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1982 32w-45_2400
Behind the caravan was the Queen Mary College nuclear engineering dept building. 1982

One large building next to the Pudding Mill River was the nuclear engineering department of Queen Mary College, which in 1966 had the first nuclear reactor of any UK university. This very small reactor was decommissioned about the time I made the picture which shows it behind a caravan and lorries parked beside the road.

Jerome Engineering Ltd, Johnson-Progress Ltd, Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 92-8e23_2400
Jerome Engineering Ltd, Johnson-Progress Ltd, Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983

Although there was clearly considerable industry in the area, quite a few of the properties were empty. You can find more pictures from Carpenters Rd on page 3 of the Flickr album River Lea- Lea Navigation.

Asteroid Ltd, Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 92-8e62_2400
Asteroid Ltd, Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983
Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35p-53_2400
Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983
Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35q-26_2400
Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983

The area now is unrecognisable – part of the largely still rather arid space of the new park. And although Carpenters Road still runs through the area, its sides are bare and bleak apart from the Aquatics Centre.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


Deep in the Olympic Area

Friday, January 8th, 2021

Footbridge, Carpenters Lock, Old River Lea, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 35p-33_2400
Footbridge, Carpenters Lock, Old River Lea, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983

I titled my self-published book put together in 2010 on the Lee Valley ‘Before the Olympics‘ because many of the pictures in it were taken in an area that was then being largely destroyed for a few weeks of sporting activities in 2012.

Footbridge, Carpenters Lock, Old River Lea, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1992 92-8e51_2400
Footbridge, Carpenters Lock, Old River Lea, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1992

It was an area that over the previous 25 or so years had held a particular fascination for me as a post-industrial wilderness close to the centre of London, one of the world’s greatest cities. Within a few yards of busy major roads I could find myself struggling to walk along overgrown paths – and sometimes having to climb over or around fences to do so. For months a pair of secatuers were needed in my camera bag to cut through the brambles that barred my progress (though when I wrote earlier about this I slightly exagerrated them as a ‘machete’.)

Old River Lee, Waterworks River, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 33x-24_2400
Old River Lee, Waterworks River, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983

At times I spent hours wandering the area without meeting or seeing another living soul, or only across rivers, perhaps working in one of the many small businesses still at work, often in ramshackle buildings with smoke or steam emerging though ventilators or cracks. Or I would emerge from under a bridge or around a corner to see large industrial structures such as oil storage tanks.

Old River Lea, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 35p-34_2400
Old River Lea, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983

It was of course an area that was bound to change, but not in the way it has. And the old was in some respects dystopian. Many of the remaining businesses were the kind that we like to hide away on the fringes, perhaps necessary but best kept out of sight. The River Lea was during the worst years of the development of industry the outer boundary of London, inside which there was a long history of restrictions to curb the activities of the most noxious and polluting industries; across that boundary almost anything went and factories were set up to enjoy that licence to pollute.

Old River Lee, Waterworks River, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 33x-36_2400
Old River Lee, Waterworks River, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983

Those years of largely unfettered industrial activity had left their toxic legacy in the soil, though some plants seemed to thrive on it. There were schemes to tidy up the area in the 1990s, with some streams and paths being cleared and the route beside the Waterworks River being decorated with art from junior schools in the area, but nature soon took it back , and a few years later I was again struggling through shoulder-high weeds.

Waterworks River, Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1992 92-8e44_2400
Waterworks River, from Marshgate Lane, 1992

The Olympics were terra-forming, with tons of soil from the area being sterilised, tons being dumped elsewhere in landfill, and virgin soil brought in, in part from building work on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. A new landscape emerged, retaining the watery outlines of the old, along with the Greenway and the major rail routes but with different land, and none of what was previously present on the rest of its surface, though with new white elephants fast being constructed.

Waterworks River, Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 35p-43_2400
Waterworks River from Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983
Waterworks River, Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1992 92-8e32_2400
Waterworks River, 1992
Footbridge, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 35p-32_2400
Stratford Marsh, 1983
Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 35p-36_2400
Marshgate Lane, 1983

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


Hackney Wick Allotments

Saturday, January 2nd, 2021

Allotments, Waterden Rd, Hackney Wick, Hackney, 1983 36o-15_2400

One story is that some time in the late 1870s boys in the King’s College of Our Lady of Eton beside Windsor, the chapel of Eton School were visited by an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary which led them to set up a charitable settlement in Hackney Wick, then one of the most deprived areas of London. It was a time when other similar settlements were being set up elsewhere in the capital and the history of St Mary of Eton states that “In 1880, William How, Bishop of Bedford, persuaded the masters and boys of Eton College to establish a mission and support a priest in … Hackney Wick.”

The Grade II* listed church of St Mary of Eton with St Augustine, according to the listing text “was built 1890-2 to the designs of George Frederick Bodley, under the title Bodley and Garner. Enlarged 1910-12 at the west end, with vestries and tower added by Cecil Hare, Bodley’s successor.” This also calls William How “first Bishop of Wakefield”. The St Augustine was added to its title when parishes were combined in 1953.

Allotments, Waterden Rd, Hackney Wick, Hackney, 1982 32z-53_2400

As well as providing a church there were other buildings used for various clubs and actitivites, including a Boys Club was established by the mission in 1880 and various sporting activities including the Eton Mission Rowing Club founded in 1885. Many Old Etonians came to support the mission, including Gerald Wellesley, a grandson of the Duke of Wellington, who together with Alfred Ralph Wagg, Sir Edward Cadogan and Arthur George Child-Villiers, in 1909 set up an Old Boys’ Club independent of the Mission. Various other clubs were formed as subsidiaries to this, including a short-lived ‘Junior Bachelors’ Club’ which rewarded members with four trips a year for promising they would not ‘walk out with young ladies’. As most who joined failed to keep their promise the club was soon abandoned.

The Bridge over the River Lea to Manor Gardens allotments. 2007

During the First World War there were shortages of food due to the torpedoing of British merchant ships bringing provisions from the colonies, and the club made parts of 30 acres of land across the River Lea from Hackney Wick, in Leyton available to club members as allotments. By the 1920s the main figure in the Eton Manor clubs was Major Villiers, a director of Barings bank, and one of the allotment gates I photographed in 1982 has the notice ‘Major A Villiers Gardening Club Private’ on it. The second pleads ‘Please Leave The Old Age Pension Plots Along You May Get Old One Of Thes Days’ – the Old Boys had grown very old over the years. Major Villiers lived in a house on the Eton Manor Boys Club sports grounds, known as the Wilderness on Ruckholt Rd and Temple Mill Lane from 1913 until his death in 1969 but decided in 1967 to close the club.

One of the 80 plots at Manor Gaardens. 2007

One of these allotment areas, reached by a bridge on a road leading over the River Lea was the Manor Gardens Allotments, and this continued to be a thriving community there until it was evicted in 2008 when its land was taken for a path in the London 2012 Olympic site. The allotment holders put up a strong fight to be allowed to remain in situ, but although the land they were on was not a vital part of the site, they very much represented an activity which the promoters of elite sports felt was undesirable. They had to go, along with the pylons and Hackney Wicks vibrant graffiti in a tidying up of the area which left it sterile – and from which it is only now beginning to recover some atmosphere.

2007

Manor Gardens put up a strong fight to remain, enlisting the support of many celebrities (though unfortunately the links with Eton had long disappeared or they might have been more successful.) I paid a number of visits to the allotments and various events they organised. The colour pictures heres are from their New Year Feast in January 2007, which included a runner with a mock Olympic flame who lit the bonfire, several celebrity speeches, an exhibition and a party.

A runner stands ready with the ‘Olympic Flame’. 2007
and uses it to light the bonfire. 2007
And the party continues. 2007

For those of us concerned about the environment (and there are now rather more than when the 2012 Olympics were being planned) the failure to preserve the Manor Gardens allotments was a real missed opportunity. It could have been seen as a golden opportunity to give the games some green credibility behind the lip-service the bid gave to biodiversity and sustainability, and certainly as a commitment to the post-2012 legacy of the games – to leave sites such as Manor Gardens and the adjoining nature reserve as a green centrepiece to the site. Unfortunately the architects and developers seem hell-bent to create a brown Olympics, creating an irredeemably distressed site that will only be economically recoverable when all the concrete has crumbled.

It would be a great shame to lose this splendid facility for four weeks of use in 2012, when it could easily be built around. It isn’t in a critical area but will simply be under concrete as a footpath, and probably also the site of a huge advertising ‘scoreboard’ for the games sponsor.

What will it say about the 2012 Olympics for a site that is currently a beacon for healthy green eating to be used for selling big macs?

New Year Feast – Manor Garden Allotments

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.