Pickett's Lock is, as you might hope, a lock on the River Lee Navigation and so the name was used for the nearby area. However historically this area was marshy farmland, hence the name Marsh Side (or Marshside) for a small hamlet on Montagu Road in the area of the Cart Overthrown and too the south where the new estates are being built. In the 1970s Pickett's Lock Centre opened and the name became more popularly associated with the centre which actually occupies land running north all the way to the border with Ponders End.
I thought I'd start off with a picture of a sports facility that you wont be seeing after all. On the left is an artist's impression of how the proposed new National Athletics Stadium at Pickett's Lock would have been in the longer term. The project was aborted for less than obvious reasons. It was even reported it was going to cost about ten or twenty million pounds less than the original estimate which had already been approved. Probably just the government sticking its oar in where they needn't have as they did with Wembley.
There is now a new facility on the site. My understanding was that it was to be a "high performance centre" (Lee Valley Regional Athletics Centre is the working title) and I understood this to be a training centre for athletes rather than a public facility though it might become the new home for an athletics club. What actually got built was the Lee Valley Athletics Centre (LVAC) which officially opened on January 16th 2007 (apparently it was opened without the formalities at the end of 2006) and I believe this incorporates the High Performance Centre so maybe I had the wrong end of the stick all along.
The stadium would have been part of, and the LVAC is part of, the Lee Valley Leisure Complex which the Lee Valley Regional Park once described like this:
The Lee Valley Leisure Complex is one of the finest in south-east England, comprising a first class sports and leisure centre, 18 hole golf course, floodlit golf driving range, camping and caravan park, UCI 12 screen cinema, restaurant and bars.
Well the leisure centre has bitten the dust but the rest is correct :-) I refer you to the leisure page for more information as I am more into pretty pictures here ;-).
Anyway, lets look at things in reverse historical order...
The A1055 Meridian Way was still just a much discussed future "north-south road" when Pickett's Lock Centre (as was) opened and the main entrance was a private access road off of Pickett's Lock Lane. Now the emphasis is on the entrance on Meridian Way where the elaborate sign in the first photo is located. This introduces the interesting sailing ship like styling seen in the rooflines of the cinema and restaurants which were built many years after the original centre (1990s I think) at which point the name Lee Valley Leisure Complex seems to have materialised. The entrance to the old centre was also completely redone to match as can be seen in the right hand photo.
The original centre building with the wonderful candytwist design on the chimney can be seen above. This building was life expired and was demolished at some stage to make room the new facility. There was a suggestion of demolition sometime around mid-2004 though whether that ever happened I couldn't say.
The aborted stadium and the LVAC are featured on www.runtrackdir.com and this includes some pictures.
When talking about Pickett's Lock I can't overlook Deepham's sewage treatment works. This sits on the south side of Pickett's Lock Lane, and yes it has been known to pong a bit ;-) I just loved the thought of the eyes of the world being on a World Athletics Championships taken place next to a sewage farm. Pity that fell through.
If you follow Pickett's Lock Lane to the east past the housing estates thoughtfully placed next to the sewage treatment works you will come upon Pickett's Lock itself. This is a single lock as can be seen.
While taking photos I was interrupted by an "OI, TAKE A PHOTO OF ME" which proved to come from the resident of the lock keeper's cottage. I think we can assume his name is Alf Saggs f rom the name plate above his head and I understand he is indeed the retired lock keeper. Anyway there he is in all his glory :-)
The cottage is clearly a relatively modern building and I have come across a photo showing the old building.