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Authors Thoughts

I grew up in Barking, and like most people, I felt it was never the greatest of towns but it was quaint, with many small local businesses, and you could get everything, you needed there. It once boasted 14 pubs, 2 markets, 2 working men’s clubs, snooker clubs and a cinema. Its shops included Marks & Spencer and believe it or not a Sainsbury. It was quite safe and you felt able to walk along the roads without fear or intimidation.

 

Along the River, Roding barges run through Barking to Ilford, and the Town Quay was still somewhat busy. They arrived to supply the local factories with building materials and chemicals. The smells emanating from the paint and varnish companies here were often very pungent, to say the least, especially when mixed with the odours from the Beckton sewage plant if the wind was in the right direction. I worked in nearby Younghusband Stephens & Company, which bordered the Roding and you could often smell what was being made before you arrived at work from the acrid smell in the town.

 

Today Barking is not the place it once was even 20 years ago. Every available piece of land is being turned over to housing. It is full of multi-storey buildings with thousands of people wandering around the town. The local authority and the planners have created a monster of a town with little for these residents to do. Abbey Road and, especially the Abbey ruins are not a place to venture and often gangs frequent here, many of them high on substances. I felt quite intimidated walking through here.

 

To the south of the borough, the marshes are gradually being swept away as each year passes, being chiefly replaced by residential dwellings. The Barking Riverside project is in full swing, and to be fair the area has been pretty well thought out, apart from the loss of the City Farm, which was traded in for a new school. The Thameside City Farm also holds memories with my children, but as kids ourselves, we often spent time playing on the marshes, then known as Barking Reach. The smoke from the power station, the cattle on the marshes and what we called ‘the old air raid shelters’ were in fact pillboxes, but nonetheless, along with the steep banks, was our playground for ‘run-outs’.

 

Most of the industry has gone here, but some derelict buildings and industrial wastelands still exist. There are still factories and a number of wharves along the western side of River Road and Barking Creek. The area has seen the new Barking Riverside line open in July 2022 and now also boasts services on the Thames Clipper riverboat service from Barking Wharf.

 

Dagenham has fared a little better. The area to the east of Merrielands Retail Park has also seen many alterations, with a Brewers Fayre restaurant and Premier Inn built; while to its south new residential dwellings have been constructed. Further east of this, the region has lost most of the giant Ford plant that was once here and employed many thousands of people, with this becoming Beam Park housing.

 

The Barking & Dagenham of yesterday-year has long gone and bears no similarity to that of today. The town once famous for footballers and singers is now famous for its African markets and shops which bring in commuters from afar. The town has seen a marked change in the population, with a growth of 17.7% in the 10 years from 2011 and only Tower Hamlets is higher with most of them at Barking Riverside and the Abbey Road area. How the town and these regions will fare in years to come I do not know, but I do not think these new buildings will survive the test of time. What will all this look like 50 or 100 years from now?

Barking & Dagenham and Brexit

Despite the December General Election result for the Borough, where the Labour Party won both the seats of Barking and that of Dagenham & Rainham, the UK has appeared to honour the People's referendum after all, and we will take the first steps to leave the European Union on the 31st January 2020. Labour in particular had cooked its goose, let alone the Christmas turkey! Voters, particularly in the north of the country had temporarily switched their allegiance to Boris Johnson's Tory party. Enough was enough they said! 

 

The reason both Barking & Dagenham did not vote Conservative is that they had both been Labour since time and immemorial. The voters here have changed drastically with a vast influx of people from overseas, but they will vote for the Labour Party. You can put a red rose on a cat here and many will vote for it. Many though feel Labour have wrecked the Borough.

 

The prelude to Brexit was that originally, the UK was supposed to have left the European Union on the 29th March 2019. However, it did not transpire. The opposition to Brexit said they needed more time, which was unbelievable after 2.75 years. Whether you supported Brexit or not, the whole thing was shambles. The issue here was clearly about upholding the democracy of the referendum, and not one of leave or remain.

 

Both Barking & Dagenham had voted to leave in the referendum of 2016. Barking was 162nd in the country with a leave vote of 60%: while Dagenham & Rainham was 19th in the country to leave with 70.3%.

 

An eight-option vote took place on Wednesday 27th March 2019: As for the MPs for the borough: Dame Margaret Hodge voted remarkably Against no deal, and For revoking article 50: while MP for Dagenham & Rainham, Jon Cruddas voted Against no deal, and Against revoking article 50,  Their full voting records on this 8 option vote were found here: -  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-47726787 

 

You had to ask yourself at the time, were they standing up for the interests of the people in their constituencies, who had voted to leave or their own?

 

Crime

Barking & Dagenham is not a place I venture often today. I do not like the area for what it has become. The Met Police data displays a grim picture with 2,185 crimes in the borough for June 2019 in a population of about 210,000 or roughly 1 for every 96 people. 

 

The region around Barking town centre, Abbey Ward, is the number one hot spot and the worst for lawbreaking. The May 2019 figures showed that there were 17 crimes per 1000 people. You have a 1 in every 58 chance of something happening.

 

Thames Ward comes in second, Becontree Ward third, Whalebone Ward fourth; while Heath Ward in Dagenham, which covers the Heathway and Beacontree Heath comes in fifth on the list, with 10 crimes per every 1000 [www.police.uk]. 

 

Anyway, let’s forget about Brexit and crime.... we can drift away safely by reading about the history of the Borough. Let’s remember when things were better here, and life was so much simpler. 

 

I hope these pages enable people to reminisce or learn more about a town, which was once where William the Conqueror stayed, and boasted the third wealthiest Abbey for nuns in the country. You'd never believe it!

 

General News

Newspaper articles for the year 2009 were the last additions to the site index, I shall not be adding any news cuttings and stories after this date. The Barking & Dagenham Post has an archive of their E-editions, dating back to this around this time. Website: https://www.barkinganddagenhampost.co.uk/home/e-edition

Transport History

A large part of my information comprises Transport information for Barking & Dagenham. This includes stagecoach, turnpike, tram, trolleybus, omnibus, bus and train timetables, maps, tickets, magazines and other ephemera. The latest addition was a selection of Transport Pictures from my ever-expanding collection.

The 'History of the 179 bus that I wrote was published in the London Bus Magazine, No., 152 “The Passing of the 179”. The editor seemed very enthusiastic about this piece, which was topical. The photographs here are now replaced in this article. 

 

The item on Route 87 has also been replaced, but the pictures here are not currently accessible. There is an updated version of this in the London Bus Magazine, No., 138, entitled, “Barking and Romford will never be the same again; a history of Route 87”, which includes the 287 & 387.

Chadwell Heath, High Road

The Chadwell Heath Power Point display was reinstated.  This required a lot of hard work to restore. For those interested this captured the High Road in Chadwell Heath, the section lying in Barking & Dagenham. I compiled this display between March and May 2009. The study proved very interesting, but to get many of the pictures without too many vehicles meant an early morning start before the traffic building up on the busy road.

 

Many of the buildings are from late Victorian times, being original and still surviving today. Although these are just over a hundred years old age-wise, they form the oldest series of buildings and structures within one roadway in the whole of the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham. Unfortunately, we have lost some more of these today, including the blacksmiths and the old pump near the boundary with Havering.

 

If you have any photographs that you wish to share in the district, I am always happy and grateful to do so. Please scan them over to me at my e-mail address. My email address is at the bottom of this page.

Many of these photographs are taken by myself from 1986-2023, and show Barking & Dagenham in a state of flux. These include Barking Town, Dagenham Village, and other main regions; in addition, most major buildings of the region over the last 30-plus years. Many of these photographs are now shown on the website to give readers a notion of what my collection entails.

 

Contact the site

If you have any items, stories, memories or indeed photographs of the Borough, please email them in for inclusion to mrivickers@aol.com   Please remember though, that as Editor I do have to edit sometimes, even if it is just to allow these to fit within the confines of the pages here!

Other Information

The site is not intended as a genealogical resource, and  DO NOT carry out research for this!

 

However, anyone with an interest in the 'Vickers' surname can contact me. Who knows we might be related, especially if you are from one of the following places:  Sudbury, Suffolk (1790-1850s): Halstead, Essex (1800s-1870s): West Ham, Essex (1860s-1960s): Rainham, Essex (1940s-1960s): Rainham, Havering (2000-2013): Barking & Dagenham, Essex & Greater London (1950s-2012). Contact me directly if you feel there is a connection. 

The site itself is intended to be of assistance to people interested in local history, throughout not only the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham but the whole country. The site is also accessed regularly by people all over the world, in particular the Australia, New Zealand & USA, where many old residents now live today! 

 

If any reader requires further information about these historical articles, you will now have to become a member of the site, and then leave a comment on the appropriate page. I will do my best to provide the answer or point them in the right direction.

All 'links' to other sites should soon be restored. If you notice a broken link not working please contact me.

Please still e-mail me directly if you feel the need to do so: - website  mrivickers@aol.com

Last updated 8th May 2024

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