The Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park was built on a site, secured by a Compulsory Purchase Order in 2005, covered a vast area.In December 2011, I was invited to join a group for a tour of the Olympic village and the athletes accommodation which would later be converted into luxury apartments and renamed East Village. At the time, I remember thinking that the work on the surrounding area would never be completed on time, but thank goodness I was wrong and the 2012 Olympic Games went ahead without a hitch.You can see more photos here >>A huge Westfield Shopping Centre was completed before the games venues were finished and it opened in September 2011, the fourth largest shopping centre in the UK at the time.The Olympic legacy is now a large leisure facility with acres of grass, many new homes, an aquatics centre, an indoor arena (The Copper Box), a velodrome and the main athletics arena which was converted to the London Stadium and became the home ground to West Ham United Football Club in 2016. There are also some new industrial sites too.
Shrouds of The Somme
The British artist, Rob Heard, fashioned 72,396 miniature bodies draped in shrouds to represent the servicemen from the British Commonwealth, missing presumed killed at the Battle of the Somme. in WW1 with no known grave. The entire installation went on show in the Olympic Park in November 2018.The tiny sculptures covered a large area of the park in the shadow of the ArcelorMittal Orbit. It was an amazing sight and a very sombre time walking among them. It's hard to imagine such huge numbers of human life being lost in a single battle.See photo album >>
Extremely Brief History
Strætforda, a ford across the River Lea on the Roman Road from Aldgate to Colchester. That’s how this small hamlet got it’s name. It literally means Street Ford, and was mentioned as early as 1067.The wife of Henry I, Matilda, had a bridge built here in the shape of a bow and eventually “Bow” is what the area became known as and separated from the main Stratford district.Today, Stratford forms part of the borough of West Ham.
Just Another District,
When Stratford was chosen to host the 2012 Olympic Games, massive changes were in store for this area. It is quite a large district, with both a street market and covered market in the old part. The new part of the borough began to appear when the games were awarded. This new section was to be called Stratford City, and given the Postcode E 20. The normal Stratford postcode is E 15.The right to host the games in 2012 was bestowed on July 6th. 2005. Since then there has been construction work going on all over Stratford. Not just the various stadiums and arenas. The sports venues were all completed on time as was the Olympic Village that was to house all the competing athletes. After the games work began to turn the buildings into residential and business premises. As I update this site ten years after the games, in August 2022, there are still construction works all over the area. Cranes and diggers everywhere.
Ideal Transport Systems
Stratford has an extremely good transport system consisting of Underground, London Overground, Docklands Light Railway (DLR), National Rail, Stratford Bus Garage and Stratford City Bus Garage. You can get to anywhere in London from here. This makes it a good place for both new, and existing businesses, although at the time of writing (2022) following the Covid-19 lock down I do wonder how many will survive. Although Westfield shopping centre has a large capacity car park, it estimates that 80% of it’s visitors use public transport.
The ArcelorMittal Orbit
The ArcelorMittal Orbit stands a short distance from the London Stadium. It was a joint venture by sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor and engineer Cecil Balmond and apparently most of the steel was made from recycled washing machines and scrap cars. It was started in 2010 and finished in May 2012, in time for the games.There is a viewing platform for visitors with spectacular views of London. ArcelorMittal is the company that supplied the steel for the venture.It stands 114.5 metres high (376 ft.). This makes it the tallest sculpture in the UK at time of writing (Dec. 2020). This gives possible views of up to 20 miles on a clear day. In 2016 a tubular spiral slide designed by German artist Carsten Höller was added and abseiling down the structure also takes place. There are two lifts for visitors and a spiral staircase with 455 steps.
Another sculpture in the park is tucked away in a quiet spot behind the Aquatics Centre on a slope adjacent to a car park. Entitled Since 9/11 it was donated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. New York artist Miya Ando was commissioned by UK-based educational charity SINCE 9/11.The 28 feet tall sculpture is made up entirely from some of the twisted metal remains from Ground Zero, remains of the Twin Towers destroyed by the 9/11 terror attack of 2001. It's a shame it's hidden away from the main site, but maybe it's better to view it in solitude. See photo album >>
The Old and The New
Across the main road from the underground station and Westfield is another shopping mall, the Stratford Centre. This one was there many years before the Olympics came. All on ground level there are a variety of shops and stalls and if you continue through it you emerge onto an open air market with many stalls and more shops.In contrast to the old Stratford, the new Stratford City is constantly being updated with new buildings springing up everywhere. The area has a perfect mixture of traditional and modern, with plenty of leisure space including a stretch of the River Lea.