Bus tours of Olympic Park offer unique look at transformation

The temporary Basketball Arena, which is being dismantled. Picture: Imogen Blake The temporary Basketball Arena, which is being dismantled. Picture: Imogen Blake

Wednesday, January 16, 2013
9:30 AM

Imogen Blake takes a tour of the Olympic Park to see how it’s changed since the 2012 Games.

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The stadium and Orbit structure behind an orange and white barrier. Picture: Imogen BlakeThe stadium and Orbit structure behind an orange and white barrier. Picture: Imogen Blake

I’m not usually a fan of watching competitive sports but I don’t know anyone who wasn’t mesmerised by Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony or the successes of Team GB last summer.

So as I walked onto a bus at Stratford station about to take me and 29 others around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, I became slightly nervous.

I didn’t get tickets for the Games and the closest I had been to the site previously was looking at the Stadium and AcelorMittal Orbit structure through a train window on the way past Stratford.

But the grounds have since become a building site as part of the transformation into a local park for sporting activities, housing, and entertainment, the north part of which will open in July this year.

The Aquatics Centre, which is having its wings removed. Picture: Imogen BlakeThe Aquatics Centre, which is having its wings removed. Picture: Imogen Blake

Before we set off, chirpy tour guide Sarah Salem, 62, prepared us for a different Park to the one we had all seen on TV. I couldn’t shake the feeling we were about to see a graveyard of Olympic memories.

But as soon as the Stadium’s white, jagged shell came into view, I knew I needn’t have worried. The venues still look as magnificent as they did in July and August except now they are surrounded by mounds of soil, orange and white barriers, and fluorescent-vested construction workers.

The hockey arena has gone, leaving a stretch of dirt behind, and only the striking white shell of the Basketball Arena remains of that temporary structure.

We weren’t allowed off the bus because the Park is a restricted access building site but the tour still offers unique views of the transformation.

As Sarah said to us before we set off: “Just because the Olympics has come and gone, it doesn’t mean it has to be done with.”

Tours run three times a day on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and are open to the public on some weekends.

To book a trip contact parktours@springboard-marketing.co.uk or call 0800 023 2030.

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