Time is ticking away before the 20 images that will make up the Your 2012 free exhibition go on display dealing with the impact of the construction of the Olympic Park in Stratford, East London. Come along and see it when it starts at the Museum of London Docklands on 22nd July 2011.
Anyway as promised here is some information all about the pre 2007 history of the Olympic site before redevelopment had begun.
Hackney Wick was a highly industrialised area around the canal and the railway with its best known products including Clarico Mints (still available but made elsewhere). Petrol was first given its name here (a company called Carless Berger started making paints around here in 1780). The world’s first synthetic plastic parkesine was made here. There were chemical works and they were also pioneers of the synthetic dye industry. Dry cleaning in the country started here too. Other factories made pies and processed foods, jam and much more besides including Lesneys Matchbow Toys from 1947-1983. Around 1900 Old Etonian Major Arthur Villiers, a Director of Barings Bank bought an area of land to be used in perpetuity as allotments, a bequest that was sadly ended in 2007 when the holders were evicted and had to make way for the London 2012 Olympics.
Hackney stadium – on what was Waterdon Road in Hackney Wick (and is now within the Olympic Park) was opened in 1932 and used for Greyhound Racing and the Speedway. In 1994 a £12 stand and restaurant was built and the stadium was renamed the London Stadium, Hackney. In December 1997 the company that owned the stadium, London Stadium Hackney Ltd, went out of business. The stadium was left derelict for several years until it was bought by the London Development Agency and demolished in 2003.
Photograph of the Royal Corps of Signal Display Team courtesy of John Skinner, www.defunctspeedway.co.uk
is area will become the site for the new 2012 Olympic Media and Broadcast Centre and after the Games, will be turned over for commercial use.
Hackney Marsh covers 339 acres of flat meadowland to the East of Hackney and alongside the River Lea it has a long history of Munitions and Lead Manufacturing from the early days of Lead Paint and crude munitions through to First World War “Projectiles” and the Matchbox die cast model factory which closed in 1990.
The Marshes were drained during medieval times and in the late 1700’s a Roman Causeway was discovered. However the low lying area was victim to several floods and eventually in the 19th century a canal system was developed which revealed a land rich in wildlife – attracted hunting parties which targeted the birds and rabbits. The sporting theme continued with bear baiting until later when they were replaced with rabbit coursing.
The London County Council bought the marshes for £75,000 in 1893 and they became part of the Lea Valley Park in 1967. They now play host to cricket, Hockey and Rugby and hold the world record for the most number of full sized football pitches in one place.
The East Marsh will be tarmaced and turned into a temporary disabled coach Park for the Olympics in 2012. This has proved controversial with residents but in return for the inconvenience they have been promised that following on from the games there will be considerable investment to improve facilities for amateur sport on the marshes.
Photograph of Hackney Marshes taken from The Topical Times Football book 1963-64 © D.C.Thomson&Co.,Ltd
And that concludes the first part of my history of the Olympic site. Come and check on my blog next week when I will look at the Stratford Railways Terminal that used to be where the present day Olympic stadium is plus the archaeological finds discovered round the Olympic Park with a focus on the Aquatic Centre area.