London’s Olympic waterways to reopen

Boats are set to return to the former Olympic site

Boats are set to return to the former Olympic site - Credit: IWA/SPCC

A loop of waterways in East London, closed to boating since before the 2012 Olympics, looks set to reopen this year as a centrepiece of a regeneration scheme forming part of the Olympic Legacy.

The circuit formed by the Old River Lee, City Mill River and St Thomas’ Creek was part of a network of old tidal channels and mill streams known as the Bow Back Rivers, but had become almost derelict from silting up in the 1980s. Dredging and work to exclude tidal water improved the state of the waterways in the 1990s, but what really transformed them was the work to prepare the area for the 2012 Games – which included restoration of City Mill Lock, construction of Three Mills Lock, and a new non-tidal length of Waterworks River created. However since then the system has remained shut to boating to allow Olympic Legacy work and Crossrail construction to take place.

This summer that will change, with the navigable circuit planned to reopen to general navigation, access to Waterworks River by booking, and for the future the creation of another navigable circuit by the restoration of Carpenters Road Lock.