An interesting visit to the end of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) at Stratford International station. It sits on the edge of the Olympic Park and it was built in time for the 2012 London Olympics and serves only the DLR. However it sits alongside the mainline Stratford International station and the mammoth Westfield shopping centre through which you can walk the short distance to Stratford’s main station serving the Central, Jubilee, Overground, DLR and National Rail services.
Having travelled through Stratford main station as a commuter for almost every day from the 6th July 2005 when London was announced as the successful bidder for the 2012 Olympics, I had an almost personal seat to view the Olympic Park’s creation and development. Everyday brought something new to the eye’s attention, and unsurprisingly, the site and the surrounds has continued to develop at an unrelenting pace since then. Predominantly office blocks and luxury apartments with unspoilt views.
The immediate surrounds of the station show signs of continued development with brave attempts to inspire new businesses, office workers and students to the area. Outside the station, the regeneration of the E20 area proudly highlights what’s on offer through sign posted flower pots attractively displayed. I almost wanted Bill, or Ben or Weed to pop up and share a ‘flobalobalob’ story with me. It’s here I met and chatted with Jamile, one of two wardens on patrol and employed to roam the E20 area offering advice, guidance and a friendly face for visitors to approach.
Just staying with the building theme for a moment, work continues across the area with a clear emphasis, quite rightly, on health and safety and hazard warnings. Some with a humorous twist aiming at capturing the building workers’ attention.
Try as I might to ignore Westfield Stratford City shopping centre, I can’t, so here’s a quick homage to its vibrancy, brightness and constant evolution as retail units change hands. On the day I visited, an area had been decked out with faux grass and deck chairs with a live tv broadcast of the tennis at Wimbledon acting as a casual distraction for those weary from shopping or those who had reluctantly accompanied others there :-). What was surprising however, but then again maybe not, and more a reflection of the times, without exception everyone seated was distracted looking at their mobile phones instead of watching the tennis.
On route from the inners of Westfield to the International Station, I pass the outside of a well known department store, whose design is somewhat iconic and renders naming it unnecessary (or does it?). And almost at the station, I encounter Bruno and his handler. Bruno is a two year old guard dog and is part of Westfield’s security patrol. His handler explained he’s a cross between a malinmor and a dutch hunter; I’m afraid I can’t find any reference to the breed malinmor so I may have misheard the handler’s description; but if any reader out there’s knows this breed then please drop me a line and I’ll update this blog
Almost at journey’s end, I head to Stratford International station and explore its surrounds. The station is run by South Eastern and is part of the only high speed commuter service in Britain. A fairly clinical station with some interesting ‘living wall’ displays outside, and inside there’s a plaque to remind travellers the site was the location of the largest train crew depot in Europe, and in the glory days of steam, the depot achieved a record of building a steam engine in 9 hours and 47 minutes; even by today’s developments that sounds pretty impressive.
Not wanting to pass up the opportunity to travel on a high speed train, I spent the grand sum of £3.90 to travel to London St Pancras station. The service runs every 15 minutes and takes a matter of minutes to get there. Today’s travels ended with a smile as the train conductor clearly loved his job and in a matter of minutes, as we approached St Pancras, I captured three of his announcements:
- One to a passenger who was unsure of their onward travel arrangements; he provided a personal destination planner
- “…to the ladies who party, and you know who you are: rose wine and raspberries sound enjoyable…”, and finally
- ‘Thank you for your company, you’ve made it one of my most memorable of my career’
For more info, look up Stratford International on Wikipedia
See all Stratford International pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment