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The heart of the Olympics regeneration project, with additional Stratford City and transport developments

Background information

In the 19th century, industry in Stratford took off as the area became a hub for the toxic and noxious industries that were banned from London in the 1844 Metropolitan Building Act. Polluting activities such as carcass rendering, chemical plants and printers relocated over the border to Stratford, which was then in Essex.

The town also had extensive railway works at this time, a 78 acre site which employed 6,000 people to build locomotives and carriages. From the 1920s onwards, this area was used as a repair and maintenance depot.

Conditions for Stratford residents in the 19th century were poor, with overcrowding, poverty and poor health.

The deprivation continued into the twentieth century, and unemployment reached record levels in the interwar years causing demonstrations and rioting. Many people were evacuated during the Second World War and the area was severely bombed.

In spite of massive rebuilding after the was, the economic decline continued with the closure of the docks.

The history of regeneration in Stratford started in the 1960s, bringing the shopping centre and London Frieght Terminal and some employment for local people. In the 1990s, a new station and bus station were built along with a library, cinema and theatre. The town centre became a brighter, more attractive place.

The regeneration story in Stratford is ongoing, and the area will change dramatically over the next four years.

On 6 July 2005, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that London would host the 2012 Olympics. London won its bid on the back of three factors:

  • Its status as a global city with one of the world's most culturally and ethnically diverse populations

  • Its focus upon regenerating one of the poorest areas of the city, which is on-going, where the Olympics have a specific role to play in providing a legacy of amenities for local people

  • A focus upon children as the benefactors of the Olympics, and the inspiration that could link nations through sport

London's bid was focused upon a complete rebrand and reconstruction of a brownfield site along the Lea Valley in Stratford, East London. This area was chosen because of the potential for excellent surface and underground transport connections, and due to the need for regeneration in the area. Stratford International Station, opening in 2009, will link the area to the continent and to St Pancras in seven minutes. A parallel regeneration project is the Stratford City development, a one and a half million meters squared area of proposed retail, commerce, leisure and residential development. Stratford City has already attracted five major international banks and several new apartment blocks have already been built.

The central hub of the 2012 project will be the Olympic Park, parallel to the Lea River, which will contain several Olympic venues located within walking distance of each other. Although the building area is now closed off, excellent views of the entire Olympic site can be had from the top of the Stratford Centre multi-storey car park, opposite the station. Most of the fieldwork tasks for this site are best undertaken at this location. It is advisable to seek the permission of the centre's management staff before you visit.

Fieldwork tasks

The list below shows the range of fieldwork tasks that can be completed at Stratford.

  • I-Spy and spot the difference tasks to identify different features of the proposed Olympic Park

  • Questionnaires to assess local residents' opinions on the 2012 Olympics

  • Views on the Olympics task using opinions expressed on the BBC Sport website at the time the bid was won

  • Photo task

  • Environmental quality survey

The London 2012 website has educational resources, information and regularly updated aerial photos of the site.

Downloadable resources for Stratford

There are five tasks that can be carried out in Stratford. The majority of these are best undertaken from the top floor of the Stratford Centre multi-storey car park, which offers good views of the entire Olympic Park site. If conducting the questionnaires, however, it would be best to move to the shopping centre or station areas. The aim of the tasks at this site is to assess the progress of the Olympic regeneration programme, and to determine the views of local people about this project.

I-Spy and Spot-the-difference activities

These two activities encourage students to observe the Olympic Park, thinking about how the development is progressing and visualising how the area will look for the 2012 Olympics. Plans of the Olympic Park are available on the London 2012 website, and in the I-Spy activity students use these to work out where the different elements of the Park will be and for any clues that the work has started.

In the Spot-the-difference activity, students compare photos taken in February 2007 and February 2008 with the current status of the Park to see if they can spot how the development has progressed.

Questionnaires to assess local opinion

In this survey, respondents are asked to state whether they agree or disagree with a range of statements about the 2012 Olympics, and to rate the strength of this feeling. This gives students a sense of whether local residents feel that the regeneration project will benefit them economically, environmentally and socially.

Views on the Olympics task

Alongside - or instead of - surveys with local people, students can get an idea of the range of opinions about the 2012 Olympics by looking at postings on the BBC Sport website around the time that the bid was secured. In this task they use these postings, along with their own views, to think about how people living in Stratford, Canning Town and the north of England might feel about the games and why.

Photo task

The photo task provides a focus for students' digital photography of the area. They are asked to think carefully about the photos they take, taking three photos to sum up the area socially, economically and environmentally. Completing this task at each site visited enables a useful visual comparison to be made.​

Environmental quality survey

As at the other sites visited, students carry out an environmental quality survey of Stratford. This can either focus on the Stratford area itself, or the current status of the Olympic Park - or both. Completing these surveys at each site enables them to make a comparison of the different locations and to consider the potential benefits of regeneration to this area.

Historical site maps

The maps north and south show the Stratford area in the 1950s. They can be used by students to consider how the area has changed over the past 50 years, and how it will change still further in the future. The map extracts are from the Ordnance Survey 1951 and 1952 editions, © Crown copyright.

File nameFiles

File type



Statford I-Spy Activity


60 KB

Statford I-Spy Activity (1)


27 KB

Statford Local Opinion Questionnaire


57 KB

Statford Local Opinion Questionnaire (1)


84 KB

Statford Local Views on the Olympics Task


34 KB

Statford Local Views on the Olympics Task (1)


69 KB

Statford Local Selection of Views on the Olympics


34 KB

Statford Local Selection of Views on the Olympics (1)


89 KB

Statford Photo Task


61 KB

Statford Photo Task (1)


27 KB

Statford Environmental Quality Survey


54 KB

Statford Environmental Quality Survey (1)


196 KB

Statford Historical Map North


2 MB

Statford Historical Map South


2 MB

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