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News article created on 9 May 2014

New life flows into old rivers at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Public boats will take to the waters of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park this weekend (10 May), for the first preview of the Park’s rivers since they were restored.

Throughout the build up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, we worked with the Olympic Delivery Authority to improve the condition of the Park’s 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, the once hidden and forgotten waterways have been given a new lease of life.

The six kilometres of rivers in the 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 until they were eventually closed altogether.

Public boats

That has changed since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The rivers became a key part of the Games themselves, from David Beckham’s famous journey into the Opening Ceremony to the live site where thousands of people sat on the riverside watching as sporting memories were made.

On 10 May, for the first time since they were restored, public boats will navigate the rivers in the shadows of some of sports most iconic venues as the St. Pancras Cruising Club and the Inland Waterways Association lead a flotilla of boats into the Park. The event is part of a series of preview days this summer, giving boaters the chance to marvel at the breath-taking design of the London Aquatics Centre as they cruise along Waterworks River before getting up close to the iconic Stadium on the Old River Lea, City Mill River and Bow Back River.

Lasting legacy 

Dennis Hone, chief executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation, said: “Following the successful opening of the south of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on 5 April, we’re delighted to now be able to open up even more of the Park with this preview of the waterways. This is yet another step in our promise to deliver a lasting legacy following the Games.”

Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal & River Trust, said: “The waterways in and around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park have been transformed over recent years.  We are delighted to be re-opening them for boats to use to enjoy this spectacular location.”

This is the first step in the new life of the rivers at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which it is hoped will eventually host all manner of activities, from recreational boating and tour boat trips to canoeing and rowing. While construction work continues on the transformation phase of the Park, boats will need to register their interest in cruising.

To register interest in future cruises, email waterways@londonlegacy.co.uk