Cheering crowds wave Olympic torch through East London

Pic: Joanne Fagg

The Olympic torch made its way through Tower Hamlets and Hackney on Saturday, and EastLondonLines was live-blogging its progress every step of the way. Our updates have now ceased, but you can read them below, or see our summary:

  • The torch has wound its long path along Bow Road through WHitechapel, north along Shoreditch High Street and Kingsland Road, east through Homerton, past the Hackney marshes, and into Waltham Forest
  • Crowds lined the streets and celebrated throughout the two boroughs with parades and impromptu parties
  • Torchbearers have included triple jumper Phillips Iwu, Kiss FM host Melvin Odoom, young Hackney athlete Sean Glendinning, and Walthamstow youth worker Georgia Tuckfield
  • Tower Hamlets Young Mayor, Nahimul Islam, described bearing the torch as “one of the best moments of my life”


18:35 Well, what a day it has been. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading the live blog and watching the torch yourselves. We know our reporters have had a great day, because we’ve lost a couple of them: they’re off enjoying the festivities in Hackney as the torch leaves the borough bound for Waltham Forrest.

EastLondonLines will be back on Monday as the torch travels through Lewsham and Croydon. Make sure you let us know if you’re watching, tweet us @eastlondonlines and get involved again then.

Bye for now!

18:33 And off it goes! We’ll see it again on Monday.

18:26 With the day’s relay drawing to a close, it’s good to know some Londoners are keeping a sense of perspective.

From ‘independent Hackney news website’ Loving Dalston.  

18:23 The torch now nears the end of its journey through our precinct of east London. Barring a roadblock or surprise robbery it’ll be passing out the east end of Hackney into Walthamstow within a few minutes.

18:15 As the torch moves through Hackney, someone seems to have taken the opportunity for a prank:

 18:12 The current torchbearer, Amar Sharif, became disabled three years ago and has sought to promote disability sport and activty ever since. He volunteers in the area and and takes part in fundraising events. He has completed a wheelchair half marathon and has been awarded a Volunteering England Gold Award in the London Met University Student Awards.

18:08 Torchbearer Takeshi Bailey has handed the flame to Kiss FM breakfast host Melvin Odoom. Odoom tweeted a picture of himself a few minutes ago posing with the torch in readiness for his moment of glory.

18:02 The torch is coming past the Hackney Empire. Another Fun Fact: The Hackney Empire has nothing to do with Star Wars but it has links to other forms of showbiz. Charlie Chaplin used to perform there and in the 1950s Take Your Pick and Oh Boy! were filmed there. More recently Ralph Fiennes performed in Hamlet there and it has been host to a raft of stand up comedians incluuding Dawn French and Russell Brand.

17:55 The torch is being carried by Darwinn Bernard. Darwin set up the youth empowerment organisation Nutmeg Community in 2008 and has since worked with a variety of organisations to empower young people and provide positive guidance and opportunities for them. He sits on Barnett’s Executiive Childrens Board and he’s Chairman of Transport for London’s Youth Participation Panel. He actively encourages young people to volunteer in their community.

17:49 Now the relay is heading along the curve of Manor Road, through Stamford Hill, towards the end of the odd little loop it takes clockwise from west before it moves past Stoke Newington station and back down along Rectory Road. Along the way, of course, people are waiting to get their glance at it, apparently of all ages:

Pic: Ines O'Gorman

17:45 The torch has just been handed to Paul Cooke. Paul is a trampoline judge and has promoted the sport at a national level, as well as being a governor at two schools. He’ll be eagerly watching the bouncing at the Games.

Before him, it was carried by Errol Mckellar, who owns a garage in east London. His nominee says he always has an eye out for his neighbours, guides the local youngsters and coaches the youth team and the under 18’s at Leyton Orient FC.

Errol took the torch from Edmond Chan, who set up a Chinese youth football team in Liverpool who came runners up in an anti-racism tournament. Since the death of his brother Stephen in 2005, he has raised money through sport. His next challenge? Cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats on a fixed pedal bike. Rather him than us, but good going.

17:40 Here’s some pictures from the Hackney crowds, including a rather fetching gorrila.

Pic: Ines O'Gorman

Pic: Ines O'Gorman

17:31 Our reporter, Ines O’Gorman, has been chatting to tourists who’ve made their way to Hackney.

Peter lee, 45, of San Francisco, says: “I’m here on holidays but unfortunately I go home tomorrow so I’ll miss the Olympics.  I heard there was a lot going on in hackney so I came up here to see the local community and see the torch if course. The atmosphere is great, I’m excited to see the torch”

17:26 The torch is making its way up Green Lanes now. Fun fact: Green Lanes is the road farmers from Hertfordshire used to drive their cattle down on the way to Smithfields market. This afternoon though it’s full of locals cheering on a Hackney lad and the torch.

17:22 Hackney sportsman Sean Glendinning is now carrying the torch. We caught up with him recently for a chat. read the full article here, we think he’s pretty inspirational.. “At age 12, he swam the Channel in a relay, and at 14 and 15, his cycling team clinched gold at the London Youth Games. He has won best design for the Hackney Youth Award logo; and for the last two years he has been playing rugby for Saracens Under 16s and was recently awarded the ‘Spirit of Rugby’ by the club. (Oh, he was once in the scouts, too!).”

17:07 One for the celeb spotters out there: pics of Paloma Faith and Dizzee Rascal carrying the torch earlier today!


16:48 Ines has been talking to spectators along the route. Claire Tighe, 50, a Hackney laywer, says:

 “It’s just great to see the community come together in such a positive way to celebrate the achievements of our city.”

Malcom, 10, from Islington:

I’m here to see the torch and everything else. I’ve already seen the torch, it was at my school and I got my picture taken with it”.

Will Mead, 27, a trader from Clapham, is not so impressed:

“Was that it? That was a bit of an anti-climax.”

16:40 Our reporter Laurence Dodds has just talked to the Young Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Nahimul Islam, who carried the torch down Bow Road earlier today.

Islam said: “It was only three or four minutes, but that three minutes was one of the best moments of my life. The crowds were fantastic – they were cheering, they were very supportive. It was a memory that I’ll always remember.”

Islam said his family were “really proud” and had been behind him all the way. He said: “All my mates were there too – some friends I hadn’t even seen since secondary school”

“It was a real privilege to represent the UK as well as the Bengali community I am from. When it was over, just wanted to do it again. The Olympics is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I urge all young people to make the best of it.”

The tracksuit, he assured us, was a perfect fit.

16:35A reader, Kez, from Hackney, has just written in to say she watched the torch by The Haggesrton Pub and said: “It’s fun and electric. Perfect spot for swap of the flame!”. And here’s her picture of the swap:

The torch by The Haggeston in Hcakney. Pic: Kez

Meanwhile, the torch has passed to Anil Kavia. 16:31 Our reporter Ines O’Gorman has just phoned in with a quote for a young man who’s out watching the torch today:

Malcolm, 10, islington: “I’m here to see thetorch and everything else. I’ve already seen the torch, it was at my school (st Joan of arc, islington) I got my picture taken with it.”

16:29 The torch is now coming through Dalston, past the famous Turkish restaurants who became local hearings during the riots last year.

16:25 Now it’s Alpha Kamara with the torch. Despite severe learning disabilities, Alpha has a passion for health and fitness and sports, winning a gold medal in the 100m in the London youth Games last year.

16.24 Meanwhile, amidst all the excitement, some residents are taking the time to host an impromptu parting, according to our reporter Joanne Fagg:

Pic: Joanne Fagg

16.21 Hollie Clugston‘s story is an interesting one: a young woman with serious learning and language difficulties who had a rough start in life and was adopted just ten years ago. Since then she has developed a love of sport and has tried swimming, cycling, climbing, karate, triathalon, canoeing and, and, and….!!! She’s an assistant group leader for Scouts and Beavers and was recently awarded the Chief Scouts Gpld Award and the Jack Petchy award for endeavour.

She passed the torch to 44-year-old Shane Ransom, who swam 10,400 lengths of Fleming Swimming Pool in a Swimathon for Cancer Research and ran 10 miles for Diabetes UK in October. Off he goes towards Stoke Newington High Street.

16:13 From Marie McKee to Tomasz Szymanski to Hollie Clugston, the torch is racing up Kingsland Road past Dalston Junction!

16:05 It’s not just local charity workers and sports stars who get their day in the sun. The current torchbearer is Marie Sallois Debremville, head of corporate development at the International Olympics Committee. You’d think she’d have had enough of the whole thing by now.

16:01 The torch enters Hackney, carried down Shoreditch High Street by Zoe Brady!

15:57 Music star Dizzee Rascal takes the torch, grinning wildly and high-fiving spectators along the route.

15:45Eric Whitlock, who ran in May in Wales, shows off his torch. He’s raising money for St John’s ambulance (“Kids love holding the torch!”).

Pic: Joanne Fagg

15:43 The torch has now been passed to Tower Hamlets youth parliament member Raju Miah, 21.

15:38 After lunch the relay was taken up by Georgia Tuckfield from Walthamstow. At the age of 15, she already wants to run in the Olympics for Great Britain. Working at a youth centre on a council estate her nominee says is wracked by gun crime, but she spends her after-school hours organising sports for children, and this year she came first in the London mini marathon.

Next up was Rumi Begum, 21, from Whitechapel, runs a sports club with over 50 children, as well as caring for her mother and siblings at home.

She passed the torch to 60-year-old David Harris, a veteran of two decades with the Royal Variety Club, which organises charity golf events to raise money for disabled children. He said he was running to “represent the efforts of many in bringing a huge amount of happiness and mobility into the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves.”

15:33 Not everyone’s excited about the torch relay:

Well all right, grumpypants.

15:27 Everything’s fine. The torch is on the move again, heading for Whitechapel Road.

15:22 The torch is supposed to be on the move by now, but we’re hearing that nobody knows where it is. Surely they can’t have lost the Olympic Torch?

15:16 Anja reports:

Surprising absence of corporate sponsors at park. Instead we have the East End Women’s Institute selling hoemmade carrot cake out of a marquee

15:05 ELL reporter Joanne Fagg, has been in Bow and sent in these great photos of torchbearer Kristin Hallenga supporters (her twin sister is in the centre) and a family enjoying festivities with the Sikh community.

Pic: Joanne Fagg

Pic: Joanne Fagg

14:28 The torch has now arrived at Stepney Green park where it will take a break for the next hour and a half.

14:26 Aerobic instructor Susie Colvill just ran with the torch and was more than comfortable running on front of crowds as she often runs for charities on weekends. She teaches 27 fitness classes per week and runs 25 – 30 miles per week.

Now she’s passed it over to Tahmina Begum, who was originally going to be first. So much for the order!

14:20 Anja reports:

Sikh community serving everyone free langgar (traditional meal) from Bow Road methodist church in honour of 101 year old sikh torchbearer Fauja Singh

14:18 Everyone’s a journalist these days, as illustrated by this picture from Bow Road:

It wouldn’t be a historic moment if you couldn’t take a picture of it.

14:15 In the last few minutes the torch has been passed in quick succession from Kristin Hallenga, to Young Mayor for Tower Hamlets Nahimul Islam, through Polish polar explorer Jan Mela, who lost both his legs in an accident, to BBC correspondent Abul Kasam, who raised £1500 by hiking up the Sinai mountain range. Now it’s being passed to Paulia Krolak.

14:11 Anja says the torch has just passed Bow Church carried by CoppaFeel charity manager, Kristin Hallenga. Her masked supporters are out in force.

13:59 Readers are sending us news from along Bow Road. Here’s a picture of the crowds at Bow Church from Tower Hamlets parents’ group LDN East:

Pic: LDN East

Meanwhile, those of you feeling the first should head to the East London Tabernacle Baptist Church, where refreshments will be handed out throughout the afternoon!

13:55 Our reporter Anja McLoughlin is on Bow Road where excitement is building and the mood is jovial. Sponsor floats are warming the up the route including a bus carrying the torchbearers to their starting locations. She also reports this bizarre sight:

Big group of CoppaFeel supporters wearing Kristin Hallenga masks outside Bow Church.

13:43 There’s about 10 minutes to go until the torch hits Tower Hamlets, so here’s the schedule for today:

Tower Hamlets

  • 1.50pm: Olympic flame begins its route through Tower Hamlets
  • 2.20pm: Torch arrives at Stepney Green Park
  • 3.25pm: Torch handover to next torchbearer to leave park
  • 3.30pm: Mayor Lutfur Rahman speech on stage at Stepney Green Park
  • 3.55pm: Olympic flame reaches Hackney


  • 12.00pm: Shoreditch festival begins – Live music festival at Canal bridge on Union Canal
  • 2.30pm: Parade ends at Stoke Newington Church Street, Dance Nations Dalston at Gillett Square begins with street dancing classes.
  • 4.54pm: Torch enters Hackney at Shoreditch High Street
  • 4.06pm: Torch passes Shoreditch Festival at Canal Bridge and makes way up Kingsland Road
  • 4.20pm: Torch passes Gillette Square at the unveiling of the largest carnival art piece ever seen in the UK with Brazilian and British carnival performers
  • 4.47pm: Torch arrives at Clissold House for Hackney meets Rio
  • 5.54pm: Torch arrives at Hackney Town Hall where the ‘Village Fete’ is held
  • 6.20pm: Torch at Mabley Green Hackney Homes Family Fun day event
  • 6.28pm: Torch leaves Hackney via Eastway with view of Velodrome
  • Find out more about the Hackney events here.

13:33 Out in Stratford, Hackney-born triple jumper Phillips Idowu has just passed the torch near the Westfield Shopping Centre. Idowu’s roots in east London run deep; raised by his mother on a Hackney council estate, he spent part of his childhood in foster care and used to jump the fence to train at Mile End Stadium because he couldn’t afford the entry fee. He got his first triple jump lesson at Raines Foundation School in Bethnal Green when he was 12 years old.

Idowu won a silver medal in Beijing last time around and a gold in the 2009 World Athletics Championships, but has long faced criticism for inconsistent performance.  Now, so close to his old stomping ground, he hopes to come out on top. He told the crowd in Stratford that he feels “pretty emotional right now” and thanked them for their support.

13:14 The next torchbearer will be Kristin Hallenga, a breast cancer survivor who founded the charity CoppaFeel to raise awareness among young women. Hallenga told EastLondonLines: “I feel awesome about carrying the torch and playing a small part in the Olympics. I love the buzz of the games and I am proud to be picked because of what I do. I will be carrying [the torch] in honour of all the other young women who will be told they have breast cancer.”

13:03 More great pics of the carnival atmosphere in Hackney.

12:56 The torch is winding its way through Woolwich and Newham now, in view of the Olympic grounds, which will be its home for 16 days.

12:40 While we wait for the torch to get moving, we’ll be profiling the torchbearers (some of whom have already been featured on EastLondonLines). As of last night the order was still subject to change, but slated to start is basketball coach Tahmina Begum. Only 19 years old, she was the first qualified Bangladeshi female referee and has been officiating local football matches since 2010. She has won awards for community sports leadership and works at a local primary school as a PE assistant.

12:36 Look what’s going on in Dalston Junction, where celebrations have already begun.

12:17 With four hours to go until the torch enters Hackney, some locals are already staking out the corners.

1:55 On your marks… get set… And they’re off! The Olympic Games is just over a week away and today the Torch relay finally arrives in Tower Hamlets and Hackney, two of the five designated Olympic boroughs. The Torch will be returning to the borough where it began its life, after being designed by Hackney studio Barber Osgerby.

Come rain or shine, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the Torch and the streets of the East End are expected to be thronged with hundreds of people cheering on the Torchbearers. These are people who have been selected for making a real impression on other people’s lives, like Hackney youth gold medallist Sean Glendinning, profiled by EastLondonLines this week.

The fun starts in Tower Hamlets, where the torch begins its route at Bow Road at approximately 1.50pm. A party in the park at Stepney Green will host activities, events and performances, including a performance from the winners of the CBBC Sports Relief Does Glee Club 2012 – Faye Guy, Redcoat Girls Project Dance Group, Soytten Sen School of Performing Arts, Fabulous Lounge Swingers and Bowjangles.

Face painting workshops, wall climbing and a bouncy castle will also be on duty throughout the day.

Hackney will be kicking off the big day with its One Hackney Festival, A 2000-strong carnival procession, including 400 Brazilian carnival performers from Rio, started from Pitfield Street in Hoxon this morning. It follows a series of artistic exchanges between some of Brazil’s most famous award winning carnival groups and UK counterparts to build ties with Brazil’s Olympic Games in 2016.

For more information on all the events going on in Hackney on the day, click here.

You can check out the routes through your areas and read about all the Torchbearers taking part by clicking on EastLondonLine’s map below.

[ell-gmap-iframe mapurl=”,-0.028839&spn=0.115258,0.328903&z=12&output=embed”]


Reporting by Lauren Buljubasic, Laurence Dodds, Joanne Fagg, Emma Marvin, Anja McLoughlin, and Ines O’Gorman

Leave a Reply