Legacy or Heritage? Reconsidering the Olympic inheritance

Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Considering the long-term history of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, I discuss how the creation of a future-facing ‘legacy’ is reliant on a selective remembering and forgetting of the past.
In the lead-up to the Games the immediate past of its site was written-off as an industrial ‘wasteland’ despite the persistence of thousands of jobs and hundreds of residents in the area until 2007. In contrast, the ancient past was lauded during the construction particulary in through press releases related to archaeological discoveries and held up as evidence of a wider public benefit of the project. Ten years later, these earlier temporal relationships are supplanted by those connected to the institutions of East Bank’ often drawing on the history of earlier mega events, particularly the Great Exhibition and ‘Albertopolis’, and the South Bank Exhibition and Southbank Centre.
I show how these different and sometimes competing temporal visions are both supported and challenged by the material remnants of the past that still linger here and suggest that the heritage of the Park continues to be an active and contested component of the Games’ legacy development.

This talk draws on research conducted at the UCL Institute of Archaeology between 2012-17 and from my experiences working on the Olympic project as an archaeologist during 2007-8 and is published in: A Contemporary Archaeology of London’s Mega Events: From the Great Exhibition to London 2012 (2022, UCL Press).
Period12 Nov 2022
Event titleState of the Legacy: Interrogating a Decade of 'Olympic Regeneration'
Event typeConference
LocationLondon, United KingdomShow on map


  • legacy
  • heritage
  • London 2012
  • olympic legacy