City Guide: Stratford

image: London 2012

It is rare for the Royal Mail to approve a new postcode, but after gaining royal approval the Olympic Park area has been designated the E20 postcode. After the Olympics, the postcode will gradually become a home to thousands with a high street, residential property and a secondary school – under the further postcodes of E20 1, 2 and 3.

Stratford City is a hive of activity centred on the new Olympic Park. With London set to host the Olympic games from 27 July to 12 August 2012, regeneration has been a key word when describing the London Borough of Newham and neighbouring areas. Much of the redevelopment and regeneration was aimed at sustainability, and many events will be hosted in pre-existing venues such as the Wembley arena, Excel centre, Weymouth and Portland sailing academy and Lord’s cricket ground.

An estimated 10,500 athletes will participate in 302 events, and during the Summer Games London will be full of visitors. Selected on 6th July 2005, London defeated opponents such as Moscow, Paris, Madrid and new York becoming the first ever city to host the games three times (London hosted both the 1908 and 1948 Olympic Games).

The Westfield Stratford City, inclusive of the surrounding shopping area, is the largest ‘urban’ shopping centre in the UK. Opened on the 13th September 2011, the shopping centre, adjacent to the Olympic park, is home to high street and designer shops alike. The centre is part of a large multi purpose project aimed at improving the amenities of the Olympic area. Providing an estimated 10,000 jobs, this centre is very much geared toward helping to improve the local economy and community.

The facilities of the centre are second to none. With local, national and international visitors set to ascend upon Stratford for both the Olympics and shopping, Westfield Stratford city has designed a multi-faith room entitled InSpiration. This worship and prayer room provides a peaceful atmosphere for some quiet time. There are volunteer chaplains who are available to speak with visitors, alongside private rooms for personal reflection. The area is available for people of all faiths.

Westfield Stratford city is one of the first public places to implement innovative technology using Pavegen floor tiles. These tiles harness the kinetic energy produced by the foot steps of pedestrians and convert it into electricity to power the mall. To ensure further efficiency, I suggest downloading the Westfield Stratford City mobile app to your smart phone. It has all the usual app features – with the additional benefit of a route finder which tells you how to get to the store you want from where you are standing!

Stratford isn’t just about the Olympics and shopping though. The Theatre Royal is situated approximately 7 minutes away from the newly renovated Stratford bus, tube and train station. This stunning Victorian theatre was originally built in 1884 and has been fully restored to seat 460 audience members. The theatre concerns itself with catering to the community and with over 160 languages spoken in the vicinity, Theatre Royal aims to house each one.

Picture House Stratford houses an eclectic mix of entertainment. Currently showing at the cinema are the ‘big names’ such as The Iron Lady and The Girl with Dragon Tattoo. The cinema also celebrates the India Film festival with shorts from a variety of films.

Stratford Circus is a fabulous performing arts centre managed by Newham Sixth form college. The arts centre prides itself on ‘filling a niche within the London-wide arts scene’. Stratford Cirus aims to ‘challenge definitions of excellence and creativity while driving opportunities for regeneration and development in East London’.

Things to do this weekend 

  • Stop for Sausages and Mash at King Eddie’s, a 19th Century Grade II listed pub in Stratford. Visit on a Sunday evening for the weekly quiz.
  • ‘The Artist’ has been billed as the film to see this year. Watch it at the Stratford Picture House this weekend, and prepare to be mesmerised!
  • If you don’t fancy leaving the house, take a tour of the Olympic Park with Jonathan Edwards as your video guide.
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