Video: Gardening and cycling at Stratford’s View Tube
PUBLISHED: 12:00 05 February 2015
If you’ve been to the south side of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, chances are you’ll have spotted the bright yellow shipping containers close to the stadium.
They have been converted into the View Tube, a community space providing social activities since 2009.
“It was initially used to view what was being built there for the Olympics,” said Paul Shaw, the manager.
“Now obviously you can go in and walk around the park, so we’ve got a bit of a different purpose now.”
Although it was closed in the summer of 2012, the View Tube has remained popular.
Situated just a few minutes’ walk from Pudding Mill Lane station, it attracts attention from a lot of passing hikers.
Paul is optimistic that the opening of the Olympic Stadium will help boost its profile even more.
“It can only be a good thing,” he said.
“We were closed during the Olympics but we’ll have thousands of people coming right by us on their way to the stadium.”
With a lease until 2018 - but one Paul hopes can be extended - the View Tube is steadily growing.
A cycle hire scheme was introduced last year. Initially boasting just 10 bikes, it proved so successful that the money has been reinvested into more bikes, with 30 now on offer.
“In the summer we had a lot of families hire the bikes and go around the park,” Paul explained.
“A lot of children had their own bikes and it was just the parents that hired them, but we do have children’s bikes here, as well as seats on the back for toddlers.”
The cycle hire scheme, like the rest of the facilities on offer at View Tube, proves popular in the warmer months.
On a cold winter’s morning, though, there are still plenty of people at the site, enjoying a hot drink in the cafe or working on the community garden.
“We have three or four volunteers who come down every Friday morning, then there’s a group from the Bromley-by-Bow centre who come over and do some gardening as well,” Paul said.
“At the front it’s more plants and flowers, and round the back there’s vegetable plots where they grow a range of food and share it between themselves.”
Upstairs is a classroom designed for school trips and meetings, as well as for hosting events during the winter.
Paul said: “A lot of schools come in and have a talk in here before going out. In the summer we often have three schools in a week.”
If cycling, gardening or simply walking around the park is thirsty work, there’s food and drink on offer in the cafe.
“There was another cafe in here before we closed for the Olympics, but when we reopened Moka East moved in as a tenant instead,” said Paul.
“We get a lot of Crossrail workers coming in at the moment for their breakfast.”
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