If you’re ever waiting around between client meetings in Fitzrovia and you’re interested in the rapid redevelopment of London, it’s worth popping into a free exhibition that outlines the little known transformation of a vast swathe of East London and the Docklands.
As the City moves eastwards, more of the former industrial ruins and toxic marshland is being cleared to make way for new homes, landmarks and green spaces.
The latest area to undergo this transformation is Lea River Park, a three mile stretch of land reaching from the Queen Elizabeth Park in Stratford all the way down to Blackwall in Docklands. It’s the final part of the Lea Valley Regional Park project that attempts to connect the edge of the greenbelt to the Thames.
Through a series of wall-mounted displays and videos, as well as interactive models and maps, all hosted in the headquarters of New London Architecture in The Building Centre on Store Street.
Traditionally, the lower Lea was London’s dumping ground, home to the first city-wide sewage system at the Grade I Listed Abbey Mills Pumping Station; mental asylums; explosives manufacturing; and factories processing chemicals and alcohol.
But many useful products were invented there too, such as synthetic plastic and vacuum tubes.
Now there are plans for bridges connecting the mouth of the river Lea with Canning Town and the new Limmo Peninsula park, as well as an intention to make use of the Silvertown Viaduct, which was Britain’s first flyover when it was built in 1934. New areas like Twelvetrees will become common parlance over the next few years, and Strand East, a 10 hectare site between Stratford and Bow, where 1,200 new homes are being built.
Ultimately, the aim isn’t just to put Lea River Park on the map, it’s to reinstate a sense of identity and pride.
The exhibition runs until 27 April
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