We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Waterways

Known as the Bow Back Rivers, this historic network of waterways was transformed in the build up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games as part of a major investment and clean-up programme.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

The six kilometres of rivers in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park were once a key transport network for the industries that lined the river but the decline of canal freight after the Second World War, together with a build-up of silt, saw the rivers become virtually un-navigable and derelict until they were eventually closed altogether by the 1960s.

This all changed with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.  The waterways were to become the green veins of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and a massive restoration and clean-up operation was put into effect.

Going for Gold!

Throughout the build up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, we worked with the Olympic Delivery Authority to improve the condition of these rivers. We created new river walls and towpaths, dredged deeper channels, improved wildlife habitats and refurbished disused locks. Since handing the rivers over to the London Legacy Development Corporation in 2012, we’ve continued to work in partnership to breathe new life into these once hidden and forgotten waterways.

The future

In summer 2016 we are once again going to be looking after the day-to-day care of these rivers, continuing to work closely with the London Legacy Development Corporation. We have jointly produced a strategy – our Olympic Legacy Waterways Framework – which sets out how the waterways can continue to be improved and enjoyed by all in the years to come. If you have any questions about this, please email waterways@londonlegacy.co.uk.

Carpenters Road Lock is integral to the Olympic Legacy Framework and is being restored with funding from Canal & River Trust, Heritage Lottery Fund, London Legacy Development Corporation and Inland Waterways. The lock is significant from an engineering point of view, as it had the only ‘double radial lock gates’ in the country. Built in the 1930s this design included two convex-shaped gates that lifted up vertically to enable boats to pass through. The restored lock will be open in early 2017, and  allow the public to see the inner workings, while providing an opportunity to navigate from the waterways around the former Olympic Stadium to Waterworks River, which in turn runs south to Three Mills Lock then out to the River Thames.

Update for boaters

The stadium island loop (Old River Lea, City Mill River and St Thomas Creek) will be open to public navigation at all times without prior booking in the summer of 2017. The only exception to this will be when closure is needed for high profile stadium events. Waterworks River and Three Mills Wall River, which runs adjacent to the loop, will be accessible by prior booking only as it is a flood relief channel. We are currently developing a management plan that will help provide the level of staffing, maintenance and signage.

Getting involved

To celebrate the restoration of Carpenters Road Lock, we're planning a range of events and activities, including plans for an east London canal festival, so people can learn about the history of the lock and rivers and experience live performances and contemporary art. For more information please contact the Heritage Activities Officer at Joanna.steele@canalrivertrust.org.uk.

East London Waterways Festival

As part of celebrations for the restoration of Carpenters Road Lock a cavalcade cruising opportunity will be available over bank holiday weekend August 26-28, with the formal opening ceremony on Bank Holiday Monday, 28 August.

Be one of the first boaters to pass under the only double radial lock gate in the country and join a wider celebration of East London Waterways and regeneration of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Waterways. Weather permitting there will also be opportunity for tidal extension incorporating Bow Creek and the tidal Thames. To express interest in the cruise send your boat name and index number to waterways@londonlegacy.co.uk.

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is a dynamic new heart for east London. Make sure you visit soon!

Last date edited: 29 March 2017