The Bow Back Rivers historic network of waterways reopens as The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Boat owners visiting London now have a new stretch of the inland waterways to explore.

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, known as the Bow Back Rivers, is a historic network of waterways that was once a key transport network but fell into a state of disuse after World War Two.

It was transformed in the build up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games as part of a £20million investment programme that included new and refurbished locks and water control structures; dredging to create deeper channels; new river walls and towpaths; and improved wildlife habitats

The first public boats took to the reopened waters on 10 May, as part of a flotilla led by the St. Pancras Cruising Club and Inland Waterways Association (IWA).

A cruise of two parts

IWA spokesman Roger Squire Andrew Phasey, Commodore of St Pancras Cruising Club. organised the inaugural cruise.

‘Because of Crossrail Works, continuing until July 2015, blocking City Mill River and the fact that Carpenters Road Lock still awaits restoration, the cruise had to be run in two sections.

‘However, a seamless transfer of the two flotillas was organised to ensure all 36 craft completed both the inner and outer waterways in a continuous journey. Air draft was limited by Crooks Road Bridge, which offers a very low air draft of 2.2m, and the Northern Outfall Sewer bridge which also has a similar restricted air draft. None of the narrowboats taking part found this a problem.

‘The two flotillas mustered at the Three Mills moorings. Pairs of boats proceeded upstream to the junction , just north of Bow Flyover. Here the two groups parted, each going forward to complete their own designated circuit. All the boats subsequently returned to Three Mills mooring where the crews had a barbecue to celebrate their success.’

He added: ‘The IWA, London Legacy Development Corporation , and CRT, provided assistance in organising the event. Thanks also go to Lenny Marino, the City Mill Lock Keeper , for providing a seamless transfer between the two circuits.’

Boaters and members of cruising clubs wishing to register interest in future cruises should email