Lost in the bog
Redeveloping the spiritual home of amateur football
Hackney Marshes, the spiritual home of amateur football, are being redeveloped as part of the Olympics. Not everyone is happy about it.
It’s famous as a location for Sunday League Football. with around 100 amateur matches played each weekend as part of the local leagues.
For an idea of their scale, watch this old advert here.
It’s also a big deal for runners, walkers, boaters and birdwatchers. There’s not enough green space in London already and Hackney Marshes are highly valued.
The Olympic redevelopment
Part of the London Olympic Park will be built on the marshes, causing controversy with local residents groups. In fact, some of Marsh will be tarmaced and used as a coach park during the games - a temporary but still invasive measure.
In return, there will be considerable investment in the amateur sport facilities. For instance, a new Hackney Marshes centre has been winning awards for its architects, Stanton Williams. (See our banner image).
A sleeping giant
Is this fair? Realistically, Hackney Marshes has been lucky to get away untouched for so long.
In a city with so much pressure on its parks, many are regularly rented out for big events. Hyde Park swarms with a Winter Wonderland over Christmas and the Wireless Festival in Summer.
Victoria Park and Clapham Common have their own music festivals. And Regent’s Park is closed for much of the summer with food and music festivals.
So hosting a major event so near was bound to upset a few people and they have made major investments in the facilities around the park to make amends. They’ve tried hard but in the confusion of the Olympics, let’s hope the goodwill isn’t lost in the bog.
Banner image photography by David Grandorge
Hackney Marshes thanks to Sludgegulper on Flickr Creative Commons
Big Weekender thanks to Steve Bowbrick on Flickr Creative Commons