The broad marshlands under the open skies of the Lower Lee Valley had provided relatively cheap sites close to central London for small to medium sized industries. These were engaged in transforming materials like chemicals, coal, steel, timber, food and waste into valuable products. The rivers Lee and Thames, local railheads and roads, provided ready access to the Docks, London’s wholesale markets and medium scale manufacturers.
Capital investment rapidly departed in the 1960’s towards highly mechanised container ports outside London from local industries most of which depended upon labour intensive cargo handling centred in the London Docks. This disinvestment left behind, in considerable numbers, many of the most vulnerable members of the subsequently underemployed working population in the country. They were then all but abandoned to live amongst vast areas of industrial and social dereliction.
Olympic boosterists emphasised negative aspects of the struggling local economy for which they promoted the Games as a cure-all. But a consortium of local businesses, threatened with eviction from the Games site, reminded government that displacement of over 200 firms, employing around 5000 workers, amounted to a land grab for developers of cheap industrial property at the expense of businesses which would lose their unique access to London markets.