Sunday, 13 February 2011

Olympic progress

Very early this morning, we headed for the splendidly named Pudding Mill Lane station, near Stratford, for a tour of the Olympic Park.  The morning was dark and murky, and the tour bus was perishing cold, but it was so very exciting to see first hand all the building and landscaping that is taking place right on our doorstep.

We started at the main stadium, which I'd already had a good look at on my first Wednesday Walk with Gill, last month.

The Olympic stadium

I was so pleased when we heard this week that West Ham will be moving into the stadium after the Olympics are finished - I really didn't want to lose the athletics facilities which we would have done if the other club - Spurs - had taken it over.  All the black parts of the stadium are temporary, and hold most of the seating.  They can be removed by West Ham if they wish, reducing the capacity from its full Olympic might of 80,000 to 25,000 - or anything in between.  I think the stadium would look even more impressive if it were all white.

The Olympic stadium, from one of the many bridges in the park, and the start of Anish Kapoor's The Orbit

In the picture above you can see some red steel mesh, which is the start of construction on The Orbit - the Anish Kapoor sculpture that will dominate the whole park, and I think much of East London too.  This is definitely one of the parts of the park that I am most excited about keeping once the games are over.  I love Anish Kapoor's work and having something so spectacular which we can see from our house will be very exciting.

My favourite building is the velodrome.  It is clad in wood, which I think will age beautifully.  I could just gaze at the curve of that eliptical roof for hours.

The Olympic velodrome, with some landscaping completed around it

The Olympic velodrome, with diggers and hoarding

We're keeping the velodrome after the games - the Olympic BMX track will be replaced by a mountain bike track, and the whole facility will be available for the public to use.  I'd love to have a go at track cycling, but I won't be wearing those lycra suits, so I may not be very aerodynamic!

We also got up close to the aquatics centre.  In the pictures below you can clearly see the temporary extra seating - those wings on either side that look like they are made from scaffolding.  These will be taken down after the games, leaving a rather handsome building behind for Londoners to use.

The Olympic aquatics centre - appropriately surrounded by water

The Olympic aquatics centre

Up close with the aquatics centre - you can see the temporary yellow seats rising up steeply from each side

The whole park is enormous - the biggest park built in Europe for over 150 years - and is dominated by the River Lea and its tributaries which run right through it.  Fourteen bridges have been built, crisscrossing the waterways and connecting each of the venues with the athletes' accommodation and broadcasting buildings.  Wherever you walk, you will be able to see the waterways.  This gives the entire park a lovely, spacious, open feel - even at the moment while it is a giant construction site.

A nice clean River Lea running through the park - no more shopping trolleys in here!

All these photos were taken from inside our tour bus on a bitterly cold and dark February morning - not the best time to show off these venues.  But don't worry, I'll be back on a sunny day in the summer of 2012 with updates - and probably several times before then.
If you would like to book tickets for this tour you can do so by calling 0300 2012 001 (line open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).  There is about a three month waiting list for tickets!


  1. We went past on the train the other weekend. It is looking amazing!

  2. Once again you took me on a very interesting outing thankyou Jan xx

  3. One of those watery areas is Alisa's pond!!! I don't know if I told you that it now is within the Olympic park!! Very exciting!



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