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News article created on 15 June 2017

Transformation of derelict east London waterways complete

We are welcoming boaters back to the Bow Back Rivers that run through East London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, after a 10-year transformation project that has turned the derelict, virtually unnavigable waterways into a major new route for the capital.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Waterways Cruise

It follows investment of over £60 million as part of the wider regeneration of the area in the lead up to and following the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Exploring the capital's canals and rivers

Jon Guest, our London waterway manager, said: "The transformation of the area has been incredible. Those with long memories will remember that the rivers in this part of the east end were all but unnavigable, subject to the tides and full of fly-tipped fridges, cars and tyres. I’m over the moon to see the changes and I’m excited for everyone who will get to explore them, at a time when the capital’s canals and rivers are arguably more popular than any time in history."

The three and a bit miles of rivers in the Park were once used by local industries but the drop in canal freight after the Second World War, together with a build-up of silt, saw them decline until they were largely closed in the 1960s. The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games offered the opportunity to unlock the true commercial and leisure potential of the Bow Back Rivers. Now the waterways will be once again open to boaters and other people who want to get on the water and enjoy the Capital’s newest cruising route.

Paul Brickell, London Legacy Development Corporation, said: "The waterways of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park have a fantastic industrial heritage. We have worked hard for many years to open up the waterways so more people can use them, and are proud to welcome leisure boats into the Park to complement the commercial activity we have already introduced.

"We’ve got lots coming up this summer, as we celebrate the restoration of Carpenters Road Lock and look forward to hosting our first East London Waterways Festival at the end of the August. See you there!"

This summer the Loop of waterways around the London Stadium, which includes the Old River Lea, City Mill River and St Thomas Creek, will open to public navigation for cruising without the need for prior booking.

Closures will occur from time to time as part of the security requirements for high profile events in the Park. Boaters will be notified in advance of any closures via the Trust’s stoppage notifications and notices on site. 

Short stay visitor moorings 

We are also planning to create a 100-metre stretch of short stay visitor moorings on a currently unmoorable length of towpath on the Lee Navigation near the Hertford Union Canal. As boaters may be journeying from far afield to visit the Park some of the new moorings will be pre-bookable to guarantee travellers a place to pull up. Boaters will be able to reserve a spot at the pre-bookable moorings for up to seven days at a cost of £10 per night with the other spots free for up to two days stay.  These moorings will be available by the end of the year.  There will be no mooring within the Park itself.

Jon Guest adds: "Boaters from across the country have been looking forward to cruising these rejuvenated waterways and we want to make the experience as smooth and pleasant for them as possible. The new visitor moorings will be a valuable addition to a busy area and will ensure boaters have somewhere to end, and start, their journeys."

From autumn Waterworks River and Three Mills Wall River, which runs adjacent to the loop, will be opened to navigation via the soon to be completed Carpenters Road Lock. The Lock is being restored as part of a £1.8million project, part funded by the Trust, Heritage Lottery Fund and London Legacy Development Corporation. A booking system will be trialled over the summer with full launch after the East London Waterways Festival on Monday 28 August.