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The Long Goodbye March to the 2012 Olympic Gates

.: Photo: Sam StricklandPhotos by: Sam Strickland

On Sunday 23rd September over 60 people gathered on a very warm afternoon outside Hackney Town Hall to express their anger at the London 2012 Olympic plans and protest at the wastage, dishonesty and delusion. It marked the day that Manor Garden Allotments disappeared for good behind the Blue Wall after 75 years of cultivation.

Participants were filmed by BBC London Local News, ITV London Tonight, Associated Press and many photographers as they prepared to march through the streets of Hackney to tie flowers and mementoes to the gates of the Olympic site. These gates that have come to represent not only our physical exclusion from the places we value that are now being destroyed, but exclusion from the decision processes which seem immune to any influence by those who are most affected.

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We marched through Hackney getting car horns blaring in support, led by the Grim Reaper of 2012, his scythe adorned with the London Olympic Logo and topped by a JCB excavator. We handed out over five hundred leaflets and cards to inform interested passers-by.

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After an hour we arrived at the Olympic Park security gates in Waterden Road. Extra security guards had been deployed to bar our way to the allotments. Bizarrely, a fully functioning bus garage still operates from within the Olympic demolition site and a constant flow of London buses had to pass through the throng.

Grieving plot holders and supporters tied bouquets of allotment flowers to the steel palings to mark the tragic loss of this special place. Happy memories, bewildered wildlife, hundreds of trees and the scattered ashes of relatives and pets will be lost forever as the bulldozers advance on Tuesday for the final demolition.

.: Independent member of the GLA Peter Hulme-Cross.Independent member of the GLA Peter Hulme-Cross

The atmosphere was enlivened by the enthusiasm of kids from the Traveller camp which is also being split up and forced to move - or in the London Development Agency’s PR euphemism, ‘helped to relocate’.

Len and Margaret Loft looking at one of the wrecked plots in August..: Len and Margaret Loft looking at one of the wrecked plots in August. Photo: Martin Slavin

Later we assembled at the Wick Community Centre to look at plot holders own photographs and to share our experiences. There were tears as images appeared of the ongoing destruction of Manor Gardens. Terry from Hackney Wick Community Association, Julian Cheyne from Clays Lane, Julie Sumner from Manor Gardens and London Assembly member Peter Hulme-Cross all addressed the attentive audience, and there was a lively discussion of many issues. Seeds were sown about future actions.

Julie Sumner, Martin Slavin, Charlie Charman


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