The legacy of London 2012 has seen a huge amount of investment pumped into Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, with West Ham coming to Olympic Stadium alongside Olympicopolis and Here East. But what did the Games do for the natural side of Stratford?

For more than 200 years the Bow Back Rivers, 6km of which are in the park, played a major role during the industrial revolution, powering Three Mills and City Mills.

But following a decline in the canal freight carrying and waterside industries, they became derelict and unsightly, attracting nothing but pollution.

After years of pushing for the regeneration, London 2012 was the much needed catalyst for their reinvigoration and between 2005 and 2012 more than £50million was made available.

So the Canal And River Trust along with London Legacy Development Corporation got to work cleaning, repairing and restoring the once-forgotten rivers , with the aim of turning them into a community focal point.

Barges are now able to access the waterways

Project manager Steven Wilding said: “Before London 2012, the waterways were very different to how they are now.

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“There was a lot of pollution and a lot of waste. You could not really walk along the towpath as there was a lot of overgrowth. It was a difficult area to access.

“But you could see the potential of the area, especially when you consider the history of the waterways.

“The London 2012 Games really proved a great catalyst in terms of the regeneration of the waterways. There was already work being done behind the scenes but London 2012 really helped. It was the final trigger to make this happen.”

After the clearing up operation, the area now become more accessible and construction barges have been able to make their way up the waterways.

But the work has not stopped there for Steven and his team, as they are working on the restoration of Carpenter’s Road Lock.

An old picture of Carpenter's Road Lock
A recent image of Carpenter's Road Lock

Steven said: “The lock was built in the ‘30s as a flood defence mechanism. It was part of a post-recession project that fell into disrepair in about the 1970s.

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“Once repaired it’s going to allow the waterways to be accessed much more flexibly. It will create another point where people can really interact with the place.”

After the clean-up and repair jobs, the project will then look to turning the waterways into a destination for events, sports and leisure, including pedalo hire.

Asked how the regeneration has been received by the community, Steven said: “People appreciate the work we have done to get these waterways back to where they should be. There’s a lot of enthusiasm for the projects taken forward.

“It has made such a difference to the area. It feels like a much more active place and people enjoy it. It’s a total transformation.”

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