East London opens up
BOW BACK RIVERS
FOUR YEARS AFTER the London Olympics, the formerly obscure waterways which threaded their way through the site are to be re-opened to boats as the centrepiece of a major regeneration scheme.
Often referred to as the Bow Back Rivers, the network of old mill-streams and tidal creeks had largely silted up and become almost unnavigable by the 1980s. Work to exclude tidal water from parts of the system in the 1990s improved the state of the circuit formed by the City Mill River, Old River Lee and St Thomas’ Creek; but what really transformed the waterways was work for the Olympics, which saw the new Three Mills Lock built, City Mill Lock restored and the Waterworks River made non-tidal.
However, the ongoing Olympic Legacy work plus Crossrail construction kept the system shut off to visiting boats. That will change this summer, with the navigable circuit expected to re-open to general navigation, plus access to Waterworks River by booking.
For the future, a Framework Document launched by the Canal & River Trust and London Legacy Development Corporation foresees the restoration of Carpenter’s Road Lock creating another circuit, along with new moorings, trip boats, small boat hire, trade boats and towpath links, as part of regeneration of the area. You can download the document at canalrivertrust.org.uk.