For local residents, living just outside gate 14 of the Olympic Park development, contact with the Olympic Development is regular and pretty proactive. Ordinarily, updates come from the colourful quarterly fact-and-stat magazine "Engage" diligently delivered by LOCOG through the letterbox. They also run weekend residents' bus tours of the park which we went on for a closer look at what's going on behind the 24 hour security and seventeen kilometres of fencing.Picked up on a blustery Saturday morning from Stratford station, and with photo-ID scrutinised, we climbed aboard our tour bus, and with half-ironic cries of "Where's the drinks trolley?" we were off. It was a quarter to ten. Or 1030 days, 5 hours until the 2012 opening ceremony. Or 16 hours since Rio was named as host city for the 2016 games.Over the course of an hour, driving North to South, we took in most of the main stadia and building projects. Almost all the preparatory and underground work has been completed, so as the architectural ideas start to manifest themselves, the site has really started to take on the shape and character of a park, rather than an unfathomable mess of manfrastructure. The Main Stadium, Velodrome, Aquatics Centre and enormous Media Centre all now have at least recognisable structural outlines, all of which are admittedly pretty inspiring sights, particularly up close.The overwhelming sensation - other than that of falling into a giant Meccano set- was of a project growing right under our feet. Indeed, such is the constant, rumbling swing and shift of the site that even Des, our tour guide, lost his bearings on one occasion, mildly cursing the new road layout put in place in the 7 short days since his last tour.The commentary was quite soft and, as to be expected, focused on the local impact of the site. At times a little whimsically indulgent - the tale of the thousands of frogs relocated from the Lee Navigation for a "holiday in Wanstead" while the canal is dredged was a little hard to swallow, and prompted one fellow passengers to sensibly enquire "how will they know the same ones are coming back?" - but on the whole we weren't treated to too much grand spin, and our guide was happy to admit when he didn't know the answer to questions. The topic of ticket distribution for locals was a hot topic among our group, but not one that is ready to be addressed it seems.This selection of photos of the tour make an interesting contrast to the ones taken on the last Londonist trip five months ago.Words and images by Sam Hawkins.
Inside The 2012 Olympic Park - Local Residents' Bus Tour
Last Updated 05 October 2009