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'Barking Reach: Its History, Proposed Development & Ecology'

The following is an extract from




by Denis J. Vickers.


Shown here is Chapter 3, which delineates the history of Barking Marshes or today known as Barking Reach. It traces this from 1066 to 1991. 

A copy of this can be found in Barking & Dagenham Public Libraries for those wishing to read more, details below:-



  • Author:Vickers Denis J.

  • Title:Barking Reach: its history, proposed development and ecology

  • Publication details: [unpublished], 1992

  • Physical description: 156p., col. illus, maps, diagrs, tables, bibliog.

  • LC subject heading: Barking Reach -- Ecology

  • Barking Reach: Development






The area covered in this chapter is bounded by the Thames in the south, the Roding in the west, Ripple Road in the north and the old path of the Goresbrook to the east (a more or less vertical line drawn northwards from the eastern edge of Horseshoe Corner). It has an approximate area of 790 ha (1960 acres) and is depicted in figure 3.2(a).


The whole area is seated on a bed of river alluvium (see figure 1(a)) thus demonsrating that once the entire site was prone to flooding. Now the River Thames is confined (at least for the moment) to a relatively narrow course at Barking where its width is just under 1 km.


This is an account of how the Thames was 'tamed' and the subsequent developments on the marshland reclaimed as a result. The first section (3.1) breifly covers the early history from just before the time of the Roman conquest to 1066 AD. Information from this period is scant. The next section 'The Marshland: Its Uses and Upkeep' (3.2) concentrates on laws, practices and land reclamation; and the following (3.3) 'Communication and Settlement' looks at developments on the marshland. Both 3.2 and 3.3 are divided up in arbitrary time 'periods' (geared to keep each at similar manageable lengths). Both sections cover the period from 1066 to 1979. The final part (3.4) looks at 'Recent History' from 1980 to 1990.


Generally, throughout the report as a whole, the hectare (ha) is the preferred unit to quote land areas. However, for this historical account the acre has been used in preference and its equivalent in hectares quoted in brackets. This way it is hoped that deviation from source material will be minimized and the 'historical feel' of the document will be maintained.




Little is known of the early marshland history, particularly before the Norman Conquest (1066 AD) and Domesday (1086). There is evidence that the Thames at Barking was not tidal in pre-Roman times [Fitter 1945]. It seems a forest of Yew trees existed near the time of the Roman arrival showing high-tide was around 4 metres lower than it is today. The Yew does not grow well in waterlogged conditions and is susceptible to brackish water encountered in an estuary. Even at Purfleet, around 10 km down stream, a forest of Birch, Elm, Oak, Hazel and Yew occurred. The Thames too, may have been forded in the London area during Roman times. These points lead to the conclusion the river was less prone to flooding and still more or less freshwater at Barking. Gradually, as the land sank (see 2.1) the tide would have reached upstream thus inundating the low lying land to either side. It seems likely that the early freshwater marsh near the river would have graded into reed beds, then alder/willow type woodland and finally merged with the 'wildwood' on higher ground in a fashion described by Corke [1984]. As conditions became more estuarine, salt marsh would have been formed between the usual tidal limits of the River Thames, gradually encroaching upon and replacing flanking freshwater marsh.


Some speculate that it was the Romans who first started to reclaim the marshes from the sea in the light of their considerable civil and martial engineering abilities but there is no firm evidence that this was the case. However there were signs of both Roman and earlier activity in the area. Stone Age axes have been recovered from Barking Creek and Ripple Road; a rare Bronze Age/early Iron Age, carved wooden figure was found near the Thames, south of Ripple Road; and  pre-Roman pottery and a coin found on the Abbey site to the north-west of the marsh [Howson c.1982]. Additionally, when erecting no.496 Ripple Road (TQ 4579 8399) in 1932 a stone coffin was excavated. It contained parts of several skeletons and pottery dating around the 3rd. century [VCH III, Pugh 1963].


Barking Abbey (north-west of the marsh) was founded in AD 666. This 'first Abbey' it was said, was sacked by Danes in the late 9th. century. All that remains is a broken Saxon stone cross [Howson c.1982]. For a time, the first record of a later Abbey was when property was bequeathed to it in 951, but more recent historical research has reduced the time during which the Abbey site is thought to have been abandonded. Lockwood [1986] states "It is known the last cartulary of the Abbey contained a charter of King Athelstan dated 936 AD and three of King Eadred dated 946-947 AD." William the Conqueror moved his headquarters to the Abbey, after his coronation, while the Tower of London was being built [Howson c.1982].




a) 1066 to 1499 AD:   Although land reclamation may have started in pre-Norman times the first real evidence of river wall embankments comes from the 13th. century, indeed parts of Essex were already embanked by 1201 [Sturman 1961]. The 'salting' ie. land prior to reclamation, must be surrounded by a number of walls when it is to be reclaimed. If not so enclosed the danger of flooding would be increased as the land drops as it dries and contracts. Conversely, the deposition of new alluvium at the riverside saltings means they are gradually raised. Thus without riverside embankments the whole area would become no more than a wild expanse of salting marsh, flooded periodically by the spring tides [Sturman 1961]. Each area of reclaimed land was known as an 'inning' [Walford 1884]. Additionally the marshes at Barking were protected by a number of walls: The Highams Wall separated the marshes of the two parishes, it was built at right angles to the Thames (similarly the marsh at Dagenham was divided into east and west areas by the Albrow Wall). Along the entire length of the northern margin of the marsh was the Stock Wall. The walls were made of wood and topped with a thatch of reeds for protection against the elements, this may have been reinforced with clay. Behind the riverside embankments lay dykes with cross ditches these had flood gates and communicating sluices [Sturman 1961].


In 1086 the Manor of Barking, it was said, included 100 acres of meadow with the greater part of this area lying along the Thames [Pugh 1966]. This, it seems supported the 114 sheep mentioned in Domesday. Open fields and common marsh certainly exsisted in the south of the parish but the scarcity of direct evidence suggests that the majority were inclosed at an early date [ibid]. This process was certainly underway by the begining of the 14th. century when attempts were made to bring parts of the marshes under cultivation. Even though, a marshland common survived into the 18th. century [ibid].


Bringing the marshes under cultivation was not always sucsessful. The crops sown were sometimes lost to flooding. For example, in 1409 the losses were said to be 'extensive and costly'. In 1489 local farmers had their pigs fed on small fish washed up. This led to a collision of the areas two main industries, farming and fishing [Pugh 1966]. In fact flooding was common and sometimes prolonged in the 13th. and 14th. century, for instance, in 1334 many animals drowned and fruitful land was converted to salt marsh. Other floods occurred in 1291, 1375 and 1376-77 [Sturman 1961]. In the 15th. century land reclamation was a pressing task. An increase in the rent revenue indicated that on the whole it was successful [ibid].


Because of the severity and frequency of flooding, laws had to be introduced to put duties and responsibilities upon certain people to maintain and repair sea defences. The laws were modelled on those of Romsey Marsh (Kent) ie. 'The Law and Custom' of the marsh. Commissioner of Justices was appointed ad hoc to survey walls, dykes, gutters and sewers. One of the first was appointed by Edward I in 1287 [Sturman 1961]. Tenants who leased parcels of marsh and the owners were responsible for the maintenance of defences. This particularly applied to the Abbess of Barking as she was the lady of the manor and owner of the demesne farms of Eastbury and Westbury [Pugh 1966]. Even though she was very wealthy sometimes the maintenance burdon was too great: In 1291 she was licenced to sell timber from her wood at Hainault (then Inholte) and Alfrefenn (near Tollesbury, Essex) within the bounds of the Forest of Essex to aid her land in the marshes near the sea coast [t.Calender of Patent Rolls 1281-1292]. In 1377 she was excused 'muster duty' [Pugh 1966]. Similar concessions were made in 1380, 1392 and on several occasions during the 15th. century [Pugh 1966].


From the mid-13th. century the Crown, via the Sheriff, had began to get involved in tenants marshland obligations and levied upon those who failed to meet their committments to pay for seawall repairs [Pugh 1966]. By the 14th. and 15th. centuries such duties were enforced by means of commissions of walls and ditches (de wallis et fossatis). One reference from 1367 shows the Commission had an area of the Thames under its jurisdiction stretching, at least, from St. Katherine by the Tower of London, county Middlesex to Berkyngeflete (ie. Creekmouth) county Essex [t. Calender of Patent Rolls 1364-1367]. In 1375 the Commission (of Sewers) was authorised to employ workmen and labourers for repairing the walls of the marsh in Barking. The area concerned was the Becontree Hundred and other lordships of the Abbess of Barking, they would be employed at her wages to repair walls broken down by the force of the sea and stay as long as necessary [t. Calender of Patent Rolls 1374-1377]. The Victoria County History of Essex (vol.v) relates a similar incident in 1380. In 1384 not only were the Commissioners enpowered to take on labour at wages of the Abbess to repair sea defences, additionally they could arrest and imprison the disobedient (with the exception of labourers elsewhere retained in the King's service or those engaged in harvesting). It was said at the time, 'the marshes were more usually inundated and in past years they had yeilded great profit to the Abbess and convent, but now they were at the point of becoming a total loss' [t. Calender of Patent Rolls 1381-1385]. After 1427 commissioners such as these started to take on a statutory basis (eventually evolving into the Commissioners of Sewers of the 16th. century onwards) [Pugh 1966].


In 1440-1 land drainage had been supervised through a special session of the manor court called 'Le Watergang' which imposed fines for failing to dredge ditches [Pugh 1966], a process that, according to Corke [1984], should be repeated every 7 to 10 years. The actual marsh walls were not the concern of Le Watergang, but it seems probable, the tenants themselves were expected to share the burden of maintenance with the Abbey. The walls, it seems, were private property and accessories to the marshland tenaments, the ownership of which carried with it the obligation to maintain the walls. Serious flooding caused despair for small tenants by destroying their assets and increasing their liabilities at the same time [ibid].


Many of the (east of Roding) Barking, marsh names originated before 1499: The name 'Ripple' originated in 1291; 'Ripple Mersh' in 1452. One possible derivation on Ripple is 'Strip' (Old English) no doubt referring to the higher land along Ripple Road, north of the marshes and Ripple Level. 'Ripple' was one of four divisions of the ancient parish of Barking. The name 'Gallions' (Cottages and Reach) - 'Galyonshope' in 1456, were probably associated with Richard Galyan's family 'Galyon' in 1330. Eastbury Level is 'Estberi' in 1321  and 'Eastmerssh' in 1343. Westbury Level is 'Westbury' in 1348. 'burh' and its derivations= manorial. In 1323 Creekmouth is 'Fletesmouthe de Berkinge'. The name 'Mayes(brook) probably originated from the family of Richard May 1314, 1321.  Finally, 'Gores' (bridge) was probably associated with the family of Henry Coory in 1327 [Reaney 1969].



b) 1500 to 1699:  Even taking into account the improving sea defences, and evolving maintenance laws and duties of the preceding centuries, breaches of the river embankments continued in the 16th. century. One example in the reign of Queen Mary (1553-58) refers to a 'warrant to deliver' the Surveyor of the County of Essex towards repairing breaches in the embankments in Barking Marsh [t. Calender of State Papers, Edward VI, Mary, Elizabeth].


The marshes of the 16th. century were very extensive. In 1563 the east of Barking Levels contained: Ripple Marsh, 853½ acres (344 ha); and Pools Marsh, 42 acres (16.9 ha); in the west were: Eastbury Marsh, 192½ acres (77.6 ha); Westbury Marsh, 84¼ acres (34.0 ha); and Little West Marsh, 106 acres (42.7 ha). The total area was 1,276 acres (515 ha). The 1563 survey of the region also shows that before the dissolution (1539) the Abbey had owned 706 acres (285 ha) of marshland in the manor and that 306 acres (123 ha) had been sold by the Crown [Pugh 1966].


In the 17th. century the marshes of Barking and Dagenham stretched for 1070 acres (431 ha) and was grazed by sheep and cattle. It was the milk of the sheep that was important (for cheese making) not the wool [Sturman 1961]. By the 1650's the (reconstructed) Vicar's Tithe Map of the parish shows marshland behind the seawall was divided into 'parcels' each usually surrounded by a drainage ditch, the shape and area of which (in Ripple Level) was largely to survive into the mid-20th. century [Vickers I. 1990]. It seems reasonable to assume that many of the land parcels, not recently subjected to serious flooding, would have been in their 1650's form for a considerable number of years.


It has been mentioned that the marshland laws and duties were continuing to evolve in the 16th. century. The Commissions of the 15th. century were eventually to develop into the Commissions of Sewers established under the Statute of Sewers 1532. Towards the end of the 16th. century the 'Levels' (ie. the areas covered by the Commissions) became apparent. A court of sewers who's area stretched from Mucking to West Ham had Barking under its jurisdiction in 1563 [Pugh 1966]. The Minister's Accounts of 1540 [t. of document] shows that owners and tenants had specific responsibilities to maintain and repair sea defences etc. For example, some duties were written into the conditions of the tenancy such as repairing 'marsh and troughs', 'Ditches' and 'Estuary of the Flooditches'. Other obligations were clearly statutory eg. 'to repair shore or marsh'. Each owner had a responsibility to repair specific lengths of the seawall [Pugh 1966]. Between 1651-74 the accounts for Ripple Marsh show that the Commissioners of Sewers were raising money via taxes, additionally they were in receipt of loans from the Government. The levels were later to come under the jurisdiction of the Commissioners of Sewers for the Havering Levels [ibid].


The dissolution of the Abbey saw much of the lands subjected to the Manor and worked by unfree tenants (to supply and maintain the Abbey community) sold. These 'demesne' lands as they were termed were purchased by wealthy merchants and used for fattening stock for the London meat market, creating something of a local boom. Cheif among these was William Pownsett of Loxford and Eastcheap who become Steward of the Manor of Barking some time before its surrender. When he died in 1554 he had 520 sheep variously pastured in Ripple Marsh and other sites. The demolition of the abbey began in June 1540 and went on for 18 months [Howson c.1982].


Although the demesne estates were sold after the surrender of the abbey, the Crown retained manorial rights until 1628 when they were sold to Sir Thomas Fanshawe (Steward of the Manor) to whom they were mortgaged. His grandson's defective will caused the Manor  to be passed to Sir Thomas's grand daughter Susanna (wife of Baptist Noel). Her daughter was to sell the Manor to Sir William Humphreys in the early 18th. century (refer to section c, 1700 to 1849) [Howson c.1982].


More marshland names were to originate in the 16th. and 17th. some of these persist in the 1990's. 'Ripple Street' originated in 1545 and 'Ripple Side' in 1609; the Roding is 'Rodon' in 1586; Barking Creek is 'Barking Le Ffleet Creekes' in 1609; King'sbridge is 'Kingsbridge'; In the reign of Elizebeth (1558-1603) Barking Level is 'Barking Levell' [Reaney 1969].



c) 1700 to 1849:  In 1740 the Commissioners of Sewers Survey showed Ripple Level stretched into the parish of Dagenham and had an area of 1,034½ acres (417 ha). Together Eastbury and Westbury Levels were 352½ acres (142 ha). Little West Marsh, North Grange Levels and South Grange Levels had a combined area of 93 acres (38 ha). Together these last three were the equivalent of Little West Marsh in 1563. Eastbury, Westbury and Ripple Levels in 1740, contained 182 parcels of marsh divided up between 48 owners.


Marshland commons, that may have once been the norm in the south of the parish (see section 3.2(a)) survived into the 18th. century. A common marsh of 3¾ acres (1.5ha) is shown in the survey map of 1740 [Commissioners of Sewers]. Close to  the common on both sides were a number of narrow parcels of marsh, lying parallel, the shape of which suggests intercommoning at an earlier date. A simplified form of the Commissioners  map is reproduced in figure 3.2(a). Barking's closeness to the evergrowing London meant that grazing land was in great demand during the 18th. century. Butchers were paying up to £10 per acre for land. Grazing was to continue to be important well into the 19th. century [Pugh 1966].


During 1707 there was a serious breach of the Thames seawall just east of Ripple Level. Because of neglect this took around 13 years to repair. The 'Breach' as it became known, was finally stopped by Captain Perry in 1720. During the work a 'moorlog' was discovered at the Thames-side around 1.3 metres down. There were the remains of yew trees with diameters of 35 to 40 cm, willows of greater than 60 cm girth, mingled with small brushwood and hazelnuts. Several stags' horns (as they were referred to) were also found [Walford 1st. pub. 1883]. The moorlog was taken as some remains of an ancient forest that once flanked the Thames (see section 3.1). Floods that had breached the Thames sea defences had been common for several hundred years (admittedly not all in the Barking area). Examples occurred in 1324, 1326, 1448, 1527 and 1690, the 1707 breach at Dagenham was not to be the last such occasion.


The Commissioners of Havering Levels enforced marshland owners responsibilities to repair and maintain flood defences during the 18th. and 19th. centuries. Their jurisdiction extended from Bromley (then County of Middlesex) to Hornchurch (Co. Essex). The marshland under their control was 1480 acres (597 ha) in 1740 [Pugh 1966]. Around the same time the marshes were often used for unlawful purposes like smuggling [Frogley 1912]. This type of practice was with little doubt due to the relative remoteness of the marshes and the small population found there at the time, no doubt too such practices had been common place for many years. Although detailed in later sections, perhaps it is important to mention here that the first industrial unit appeared in the Creekmouth area during the first half of the 17th. century (a powder magazine) and the Ship and Shovel public house was founded.


The Commissioners of Sewers Survey map of 1740 shows a large proportion of marshland under the ownership of Lady Humphreys (see figure 3.2(a)). She was a daughter of Sir William Humphreys, and owner of the Manor of Barking. Sir William had purchased the Manor and lands in 1717 (from Susanna the great grand daughter of Sir Thomas Fanshawe). Later the manorial rights were passed to Sir William's daughters. They and their husbands sold them to Smart Lethieullier FRS. He was succeded by his brother Charles' daughter Mary. She married Sir Edward Hulse. The Manor remained in the Hulse family from 1769 into the 20th. century [Howson c.1982].


One important name originated in this study period. Barking Reach (now the name adopted by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham for the present area) is 'Trip Cock Reach' in 1777 [Reaney 1969].



d) 1850 to 1899:  The Ordnance Survey map of 1897 (see figure 3.2(b)) shows the marshland parcels of the 1740 survey largely unaltered. Unfortunately there are few references to ownership of most of these. A number of farms are located at the northern margin of the marsh (just north of Ripple 'Road', in 1740 'Street'). The LTSR now cuts east-west across the north of Ripple levels [OS Essex Sheet LXXXIV, 6" : mile]. A description of the marsh from 1883 gives some idea what it was like: 'Beyond Barking Marsh (ie. Ripple Levels), immediately abutting the Thames is mostly dreary marsh, crossed and intersected with straight dykes and sluggish pools, but further in land are broad stretches of pasture land, serving as an admirable grazing ground for cattle' [Walford 1st. pub. 1883]. An engraving from the same publication shows nearby Dagenham Marsh as a flat landscape with isolated patches of trees and drainage ditches with reeds. A second engraving of the Thames embankment in Dagenham indicates the wall was of diminished stature in comparison to todays. No trees or shrubs grew directly behind the wall, but pools of water (rather like ruts caused by cartwheels)  ran in track-like stretches parallel to the wall. In 1893/4 the surrounding marshes were still important for animal grazing [Old OS maps repub. 1989].


The last new marsh commission was issued in 1860. It had jurisdiction from Havering to West ham. Eight 'Levels' were recognised (ie. Havering, Dagenham, Ripple, Barking, East Ham, West Ham, Leyton and Walthamstow) each was supervised by its own marsh jury [Pugh 1966].


Industrialisation, communications and settlement increased throughout this study period (ie. 1850 to 1899), particularly just east of Barking Creek, when a village of around 50 cottages was established at Creekmouth to serve the Lawes Chemical Works. Settlement is covered in detail in section 3.3.



e) 1900 to 1929:  This period was characterised by rapid industrialisation along the eastern bank of the Roding and at Creekmouth. Probable the most notable event was the opening of a power station (at Creekmouth). Its activities would come to dominate the latter history of the marshland. The Barking By-pass (in the north-west of the study area)  was opened towards the end of the period.


In 1916 there was still a little  marsh that apparently had not been inned, near Creekmouth, sandwiched between an area of development  and the Roding. The East Marsh Pond was still in evidence just south of the By-pass near River Road (the roots of its name could be traced back to the 14th. century) [OS Essex New Series N85.12 1916]. Five years later a map was issued that showed Horseshoe Corner was still undeveloped and marked 'prone to flooding' [OS sheets 1921 6": mile]. Both the 1916 and 1921 maps show much of the marshland area much as it had appeared in the 1740 survey with many marshland parcels unaltered (see figures 3.2(a) and (c)). This view is supported by an aerial photograph taken in 1925 when the power station was opened. Very little development is shown north of the station only a flat, treeless landscape, criss-crossed with drainage ditches. Also few roads are evident and there is no sign of landfill taking place [CLESCL 1925]. The fact the land was treeless suggests it was still used for grazing cattle as it had been towards the end of the 19th. century. Certainly, in 1929/30 there were 'complaints about straying cattle' on the new River Allotments recorded in the local council minutes [Barking Urban District]. Taking this a step further, it is very likely that grazing had continued, on the open marshland, uninterupted from the 1890's.


Flooding, and river wall repairs remained important issues in the early part of the 20th. century. In 1917/18 river wall repairs were undertaken by the Marsh Bailiff for the Essex Sewers Commissioners (ESC) [Barking UDC minutes]. In the 1927/28 Council minutes references were made to low lying land, near the Roding, that was still subjected to flooding. In the early 1920's the ESC were very concerned about development in and near their area. It was envisaged that a more rapid discharge of storm water, into ditches and channels would result, thus increasing their difficulties. An increase in area under their control was sought (no reference was found as to whether this was granted) [Barking UDC minutes 1920/21]. In the late 1920's the ESC were approached by Barking Council's Engineer to carry out the cleaning of ditches to prevent flooding, an act that was promptly conducted. The land concerned had been puchased from Sir H.J. Hulse by the Council to be used for allotments. However, much of it was low lying and prone to flooding [Barking UDC minutes 1927/28].


During the study period (ie. 1900 to 1929) it seems much of the land in and around the main areas where industrialisation was taking place, was in the hands of private companies or the local authority. Many instances, of the purchase and sale of land, are referred to in Barking UDC minutes. For example: In 1918/19 there was a request made for the local council to buy back 'a strip' of land by P.A. Bayman. The council had previously purchased it for the construction of River Road (c. 1895). Conversly, in 1923/24 there was an acquisition of a strip of land from J. John Masters, by the local council for widening River Road. During 1922/23 the council were asked to convey a strip of land to the Co. of London for the construction of a power station by the Electricity Commissioners. Sir H.J. Hulse (mentioned above) was the last of the lords of the Manor of Barking and still possessed considerable land in Barking Marshes. In 1924/25 the council sought permission to aquire 122 acres (49 ha) of land adjoining the East Ham and Barking By-pass, near River Road, for 'permanent' allotments. Purchase of the land was subject to Ministry of Health approval. This was later given and the council took possession by Christmas 1926. The tenant of the land was to receive £500 compensation plus £65 for buildings [1926/27]. The manor of Barking and its long history, was extinguished in 1926 [Howson c.1982].            

f) 1930 to 1949:  A map from 1938 shows clearly that industrialisation east of Barking Creek and around Creekmouth, had progressed from the above period and the area was becoming considerably built up. Development was centred around the north-south positioned River Road. During this period the Scrattons Farm Housing Estate, north-east of the LTSR was the most notable development. A later map from 1939 shows there were still marshland parcels between the A13 (East Ham and Barking By-pass) and the LTSR. These extended south of the railway to the Thames. Pylons were now transversing east-west over the north-east of the area [OS Essex Sheet LXXXVII.5, Rev. 1939]. In 1940 the marshland north of the Thames seawall (east of the power station) was much as it had been for centuries before, in parcels surrounded by ditches and dykes. Additionally, the Thameside mudflats were much as they are today, however, Horseshoe Corner was still undeveloped [OS Revision of 1940 Essex Sheet LXXXVII.9]. A revision of the last document in 1949 shows that very little development had occurred in 9 years (possibly as a result of the war). Figure 3.2(c) shows the path of Ripple Lane in 1921. By 1949 most of the marshland parcels between the lane and Thames had been lost through development of one sort or another [OS Revised 1949 (from 1940) Essex Sheet N LXXXVI.12]. An aerial photograph taken during the 2nd. world war (1941) by a German warplane confirms many of the observations, gathered from maps, described above: There were still extensive areas of marshland parcels evident. Horseshoe Corner itself and the land to the north of it, still appeared to be undeveloped. The tract of land between the power station and Ripple lane was mostly developed (or dumped upon). Additionally, bomb crators were clearly visible. The Ford Motor Company and Barking's Thameside power stations must have been priority targets for the German bombers.


The Land Drainage Act of 1930 brought Barking Levels under the control of the Essex Rivers Catchment Board which by an Act of 1948 was merged in the Essex Rivers Board. The Act of 1930 empowered the catchment boards to levy rates from upland areas, not themselves subject to flooding, as well as from the marshland tenants [Pugh 1966].


Throughout the period cattle were grazed on the marshland area by Mr. Rhodes the tenant farmer of the time. He took up the tenancy around 1930/31 [Billington 1990].



g) 1950 to 1964:  In 1950 the most of Ripple Level and its marshland parcels were intact, largely unchanged from (at least) the mid-18th. century. Encroachment by housing and industry remained mostly at the perimeter (see figure 3.2(d)):   The LTSR and high tension power lines transversed the north of the area. Scrattons Farm Housing Estate, situated in the north-east, was prominent. The River Road Industrial Estate and the power stations dominated the western margin. Additionally, council allotments covered a large area of the north-west marsh and most of the central area (west of Renwick Road). Horseshoe Corner remained undeveloped [OS Sheet TQ48 SE (1950) 6" : mile]. Thus, the scene was set for the rapid change that was to take place. Included in this period was the demise of Creekmouth Village, the building of a massive rail marshelling yard south-west of the Scrattons Farm Housing Estate, centred on the LTSR, and most significantly the dumping of industrial and household waste over specific (but large) areas of the marshland. The  construction of the massive Thames View Housing Estate (in the north-west of the area) and the diversion westward of the Goresbrook, also took place in this period. Although the exact time the Goresbrook was diverted cannot be pinpointed, a survey of 1961 shows that by this time the stream, was already running westward of its earlier course [OS TQ4883 SE 1962].


By 1964 all the marsh, west of Renwick Road, had disappeared as a result of power station activities such as coal storage and dumping of waste products. Also, no marshland parcels were now visible [OS Sheet TQ48 SW]. By now there were some signs of dumping immediately east of Renwick Road. An aerial photograph c.1958, looking eastwards from the marshelling yard towards Grays, clearly shows trees at the south of the centre of the eastern section. The local council had also began to use the area west of (the now diverted) Goresbrook, as a dump. It was evident that where the brook splits into two arms and rejoins (just north of the Thames) there was no dense covering of reeds, between the streams, as there is today. Thus a clue is given regarding the recent nature of this 'island'. It seems likely there were two main reasons why the Goresbrook was diverted: 1) to allow drainage and reclamation of Horseshoe Corner into which it once flowed; 2) to act as a drain for leachate from the newly sited, and expanding, council tip. From the photograph, cattle can be made out grazing the surviving marshland [Aerial Photograph c.1958]. The cattle were owned by Mr. G.C. Billington, a cattle and dairy farmer. He took over the tenancy of the land, for grazing, from Mr. Rhodes in 1954. He has been referred to as the 'Marsh Warden' but infact enjoys no special rights. While a specific area of marshland was being subjected to dumping, it was fenced off to prevent the herd (of typically 50 to 70 animals) straying onto it [Billington 1990].



h) 1965 to 1979:  This period was characterised by little further building within the old Ripple Marsh area compared with earlier in the century. Instead, great sections of the remaining marsh were subjected to the dumping of industrial, commercial and household waste. Some tips that were started a number of years before were already deserted. Recolonisation by plants had began. In 1965 all the marshland west of Renwick Road had been dumped upon. A narrow strip just east of the road, between it and the north-south track, was also being used as a dump. Just west of Horseshoe Corner the council tip was clearly evident. Throughout this period Mr. Billington continued to graze his cattle on suitable areas.


Prior to the first of April 1974 the Levels at Barking had been under the Essex River Board. On that date control passed to the Thames Water Authority [Howson c.1982].


A map from 1975 indicates there was dumping of various materials taking place, south of the main east-west dyke, down to the Thames seawall [OS Sheet TQ48 SE 1975]. By the close of this period (ie. 1979) only 11 acres (4.5 ha) of the original grazing marsh remained. This was located on two sites: 1) just south of the marshelling yard (2.2 acres (0.9 ha)); and 2) 0.25 km east of Renwick Road (9.2 acres (3.7 ha)). These areas were to persist into the 1990's virtually unaltered [Vickers D. 1990]. The development of Barking Levels can be followed in figures 3.2 (a) to (e).





a) 1066 to 1499:  There are only a few references to communications, concerning Barking Marshes, from this period. Obviously, there must have been lanes and tracks into the marsh, as sheep and cattle would have been transported from one place to another. There must too have been routes open to take materials to the seawalls to maintain and make the necessary repairs.


It is assumed below that most of the main routes shown on the Chapman and Andre´ map of 1777 (see figure 3.2(b)) had changed little from the 15th. century. This is given credence by the antiquity of some of the road and place names and the fact that by 1777 they appeared very well established.

It seems the main marshland thoroughfare was Ripple Street (later known as  Road) that ran east-west along the northern margin. From Ripple Street direct or indirect links to London and the rest of Essex existed. In 1433 it was said to have been connected to Wood Lane, in the north, via Gale Street [Pugh 1966]. Ripple Street itself ran from Barking in the west to the ancient manor of Cockermouth in the east (now the Chequers Lane region). From the Chapman and Andre´ map of 1777  it can be seen Barking was linked to Becontree Heath and Hainault. The route veered north-east from Barking village towards the Heath. In 1452 this part of the route was known as 'the lane leading from Smalwelcrouch', in 1609 the western section was called 'Smallwell Lane' (later Longbridge Road) and the eastern section 'Wood Lane' in 1563. At Becontree Heath the route went northwards towards Hainault Forest. In 1641 it was known as 'Beamsland Lane' (later Whalebone Lane) [Reaney 1969]. The 1777 map also shows an indirect connection between Barking and the main (Roman) London to Colchester Road via Ilford. Some of the names in the route date back to the 14th century eg. North Street (Barking) is 'Northstrete' in 1328 [Reaney 1969]. From the Cockermouth end of Ripple Street, Chapman and Andre´ shows, Dagenham could be reached by way of Broad Street (so called in 1777) and Church Elm Lane (1555) [names: Reaney 1969].



b) 1500 to 1699:  From the Exchequer Land Revenue [t. of 1609 document] mention is made of routes running from Ripple Street southwards into the marsh. From the descriptions it seems these may have been references to the lanes depicted in the 1740 Commissioners of Sewers map (see figure 3.2(a)) and later called Choats Manor Way and Ripple Lane (later still Renwick Road). In the 1650's the latter was known as 'Muggs Lane' [Vickers I. 1990]. Another north-south route ending at Creekmouth was made reference to during the demolition of the Abbey in 1540 [Pugh 1966]. It seems the road had to be repaired as so much stone, from the building, was carted southwards to Creekmouth and loaded in luggers. These shipped it down stream to Dartford where it was used to construct a new house for the king. One possible route taken by this road may have been: southwards from the Abbey, via Manbrigge Strete  to the edge of the marsh, over the Mayesbrook at its confluence with Barking Creek at Kingsbridge (named in 1609) and then along the seawall that ran more or less parallel with the Creek. Manbrigge was so named in 1321 (Strete 1456) [Reaney 1969] later this was called Fisher Street [Vickers I. 1991] and later still is the probable route of Abbey Road south. Fisher Street was once wrongly thought to be 'Fysshrowe' (of 1456) but new evidence suggests the latter was actually near the market in Barking.c) 1700 to 1849:  The main routes to and from Barking Level (ie. Marshes) are shown on the Chapman and Andre´ map of 1777 (figure 3.2(b)). As explained earlier, many of the routes shown on the map had probably been in those positions for at least  200 to 300 years. The 1777 map, however, fails to show the routes through the marshland. The Commissioners of Sewers Survey map [1740] clearly illustrates the marshland lanes. The section above (1500 to 1699) suggests that these routes were already in place prior to the start of this period. Maps from the 19th. century show the same routes in use then. From Ripple Street, the main east-west thoroughfare at the northern margin of the marsh, several roads headed south into the area. In the far east of Ripple Level was the road later known as 'Choats Manor Way'. It headed southwards to Horseshoe Corner (then called Stacobrack Reed Shore) then veered westward joining Ripple Lane. A little west of 'Choats Manor Way' was a second southbound lane branching from Ripple Street that apparently extended only half way down the marshland before coming to a halt, a third route headed southwards from Ripple Street (in the western half of Ripple Level). This was Ripple Lane. Just before it veered westwards it was joined by 'Choats Manor Way'. Similar southbound routes into Eastbury and Westbury Levels existed eg. via Vineyard Lane (later called King Edwards Road). Athough Fisher Street  extended from the Town Quay to the marshland edge, no marshland road to Creekmouth could be discerned on the 1740 maps. In 1810 the 'New Road' as it was called was constructed by the Tilbury Fort Turnpike Trust. It ran from Tilbury to London. In the area of the Barking Marshes  Ripple Road (formally Street) formed part of its route. The New Road greatly improved communications in the area [Howson c.1982].


Immediately south of Ripple Road, virtually along its entire length, there were a number of farms. These appear in both the 1740 and 1777 maps. Some of these farms had their origins in the area as early as the 14th. century (these are dealt with in greater detail in 'd' below). It seems likely that some of these produced vegetables for the ever growing London market of the time.


The Ship and Shovel inn situated on the corner of Ripple Road and Ripple Lane probably had its licence dating from 1740. Then it was a small house that was later destroyed by fire and another constructed on the site [Frogley 1912].


Industrialisation of the marshes began during this period. A gunpowder magazine was started in 1719. This was to survive until after the first world war [Old OS Survey Maps, repub. 1989].



d) 1850 to 1899:  One major road development was to take place during this period, an extension to Movers Lane. This was to connect Barking with the new village sited at Creekmouth. It headed southwards across the west of Barking Levels approximately parallel to Barking Creek. Until 1893/4 there had been no paved road in the village [Old OS Maps, repub. 1989]. In 1896 the Engineer of the Essex Sewers Commission, when referring to the new road, was reported to have said"...if its construction is completed by the end of the year they would be delighted" [B.E. & I.A., no. 383, 1896]. The new road was called River Road. In the north-west of the area, between Fisher Street and King Edwards Road, a housing estate was constructed between 1880 and 1900 [Pugh 1966] (in the late 1960's to early 1970's this was replaced with the Gascoigne housing estate).


The Lawes Chemical Manure Company was opened at Creekmouth in 1857. By 1893 it employed 400 men. In 1889 there were 55 houses in Creekmouth and a population of 210 (or 250 if the Frogley account of 1912 is taken). Many of the villagers were employed by Lawes. The Crooked Billet PH originated as a wooden cottage around 1860 on the western side of River Road. Later it was moved to larger premises on the other side of the road. A church mission room (St. Pauls) and a church school were opened in 1894 [Old OS Maps, repub. 1989]. Creekmouth had its own constable, who joined the Met. in 1865 and was transferred to the village in 1870 [Frogley 1912]. As well as Lawes and the village there were other units at Creekmouth east of the chemical company: the Barking Guano Works was opened in 1878, there was also a coastguard station, and the powder magazine [Walford, 1st. pub. 1884]. The latter example was 'privatised' in 1885. It was sold to the Creekmouth Gunpowder Company. Not suprisingly though, it was still guarded by soldiers. Barking Local Board, unsuccessfully, tried to close it down in 1888 [ibid].


On the 13th. of April 1854 the first completed section of the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway (LTSR) was opened. It ran from Forest Gate (in East London) through to Tilbury (in Essex) from Bishopsgate and Fenchurch Street. The railway branched off the Eastern Counties Railway (ECR) near Stratford and crossed the entire length of the marshes between Barking and Tilbury. It was regarded as a remarkable feat of engineering. The route itself was authorised jointly by the ECR and the London and Blackwell Railway (LBR). It was first known as the 'London, Tilbury and Southend Extension' a name very near its final form the LTSR [Searle 1984].


The OS map of 1897 (figure 3.2(b)) clearly shows the route taken by the LTSR over Barking Marshes. It also shows a number of farms and cottages north of the railway and immediately south of Ripple Road. Most of these appear to be present on the 1740 and 1777 maps (see previous period) but of course it is not possible to know if they are the same buildings. The names of some of the farms indicate antiquity eg. Osborne's Farm is probably associated with the family of Henry Osebarn (1327); Maybells is land called Maybill, Maybil, Mabill, Mabill Godland, Godland in 1452 (meaning Good land), farm or graunge called Maybells in 1578, and Maybells in 1586, the original name is associated with the family of William Fity Maybel; Moggs Farm is associated with the family of Emma Mog (1332); 'Merrielands' is a relatively modern name for an old farm, in 1452 it was known as 'Cockermouth' and was associated with the manorial name of John de Cokermuth (1321), in 1616 it is Cockermore. Regarding the last example, the story behind the name is quite interesting: in 1823 the farm was owned by Rowland Stephenson the 'Fugitive Banker' he went bankrupt and fled to America. The farm was resold and re-named America Farm, this was changed to Merrielands by W. Varco Williams around 1890-96 [Reaney 1969].



e) 1900 to 1929:  The pace of road building accelerated during this period. The OS map of 1916 shows part of Ripple Lane (that runs east-west parallel to the Thames) joined in the south by a track that was later to become an extension of River Road. Ripple Lane then veered to the north to join Ripple Road [OS Essex New Series Sheet NLXXXV.12]. This section of the lane was to become Renwick Road in the years to follow. By 1921 River Road was extending to the Guano Works east of Creekmouth with a well developed track continuing from its end to the site where the power station was to be built [OS Sheets 1921, 6": mile]. One possiblity is the track was used for the transportation of materials for the preparation of the site. In 1923-24 There was an acquisition of a strip of land by the local council (from J. John Masters) for the widening of River Road [Barking UDC minutes]. The Council minutes of 1928-29 record the County of London asking if the Council would give permission for them to construct a level crossing over a private road that ran parallel to the Thames, north of the newly constructed power station (covered below). The Council later agreed, this road was later to become another section of River Road (ie. the section immediately west of its joining with Renwick Road). On Friday the 25th. of May 1928 the Barking By-pass was opened. It was 2/3 rds. of a mile shorter than the old road and 50 feet wide. It ran for 3½ miles from Toll Gate, Prince Regent Lane to the Thatched House, Barking [D.P. and B.R.G., Vol. VIII, No. 327, 1/6/28]. The terraced houses and roads, east of King Edwards Road, were constructed from 1920 onwards [Pugh 1966].


Creekmouth village continued to develop. The church school (started in 1894) was replaced with a local board school. In 1901 it was situated north of the old site. Sir Henry Hadow [1932] tells of the opening of the Creekmouth school in 1895. Whether this referred to the church school or the new local board school is not made clear. Perhaps the two ran in competition for a short while. St. Pauls Church Mission (started in 1894) was closed around 1928.


The plans for a power station at Barking were formulated early on. The Council minutes of 1919-20 record "the Council continue their electrification program in conjuction with other localities. This will do until 1924-25 by which time it was probable there would be established a large generating station on the north side of the Thames." Between 1922-23 the Electricity Station, County of London, received the consent of the Electricity Commissioners to build the station at Barking. The Council was asked by them, to convey to them a strip of land forming the site of River Road from a point eastwards. A permanent road was shown on the plan with a footpath and proposed temporary road. Lawes Chemicals were given notice of the plans. A 75 yards (_69 metres) of river wall had to be diverted as a result (by Lawes). A new sewer system was later jointly laid by the Council and Lawes [Barking UDC minutes]. Barking Power Station was opened by H.M. King George V with a ceremony held on the 19th. of May 1925 [CLESCL 1925]. It occupied a site slightly east of the Guano works at Creekmouth. The power station was to become the largest in Europe. It had an initial output of 100,000 kW [B.E.& I. A 3/2/34].


A comparison of figures 3.2(b) and (c), the OS maps from 1897 and 1921, make clear the extent of marshland development during this period. New industries continued to appear on the marshes: From 1909 to 1912 Sir Frederic Handley Page was building aeroplanes in second hand hut near Creekmouth, they were the first premises fitted out in Britain exclusively for aeroplane manufacture [Howson c.1982]. The degree of expansion and growing importance of Creekmouth as an industrial centre is indicated in the next two examples: The London Butcher Hide and Skin Co. sent the local council a letter regarding the urgent need for sewering in the Creekmouth area [Barking UDC minutes 1917-18]; and in 1919-20 the Council received a request for lighting in River Road by Daniel de Pass Trust Co. Ltd. However, not all industry was successful eg. the gunpowder magazine finally closed after the first world war [Old OS Maps, repub. 1989]. The east of Ripple levels never completely escaped industrialisation during this period. OS maps from 1921 shows there was a sewage works operated by Romford RDC just south of the LTSR and immediately east of the Barking-Dagenham urban district boundary [OS Sheets, 1921, 6": mile].


Although dumps of Victorian and Edwardian bottles etc. occur near the allotments west of Renwick Road, the first reference to the dumping of waste on the marshland comes from the Council minutes of 1927-28. The Allotments Sub-committee (of the Council) recommended that low lying land, that was prone to flooding, should be 'made up' with house refuse and road sweepings then covered with one foot of earth. The land concerned was parts of that previously purchased from Sir H.J. Hulse for 'permanent' allotments (see section 3.2 e). The Council minutes of 1928-29 record that arrangements had been made for road sweepings to be distributed to allotment holders.


f) 1930 to 1949:  A site plan from 1934 depicts River Road running west-east, between the power station itself and Ripple lane. The plan makes it obvious that the road at this point and time cannot have been an established thoroughfare [The Engineer, 1934]. Four years later  an OS map shows River Road was now connected to, and almost as an extension of, the north-south section of Ripple Lane. The east-west part of the lane leading to Creekmouth was still clearly visible having so far escaped development. The two tracks (that now (1991) lead from the style opposite the switching station) were present. One track veered off to the north-west of this section of the site (ie. east of Renwick Road), the other track headed towards the central region [OS Sheets 1938, 6": mile]. By 1941 the west-east orientated section of Ripple Lane was becoming fragmented due to the overspill of development in the south (near the power station). There was, however, no such parallel development around Choats Manor Way west of Renwick Road [London-Dagenham Hauptwerk Der Ford Motor Co" 1941].


Scrattons Farm Housing Estate was erected in 1939. It was located between the A13 and the LTSR near the Barking-Dagenham border. 282 dwellings were built [Barking Council Permanent Dwellings List]. An OS map of 1939 shows the eastern part of the estate already constructed [OS Rev. 1939 Essex Sheet LXXXVIII 9]. The revised map of ten years later shows the estate had now extended westward. By 1938 industrialisation west and south of River Road had progressed and in parts the area was now considerably built up. Industry was now too, reaching along the east and north of the road to Creekmouth village [OS Sheets 1938. 6": mile]. In 1949 it was clear that most of the marshland parcels south of Ripple Lane had succomb to development. There was also, almost continuous buildings northward along River Road other than a gap of around 200 metres to the north of the Crooked Billet PH. In 1939 there had only been a few industrial units between the A13 and LTSR, by 1949 an increase was evident. However, there were still considerable areas of undeveloped marshland present [OS Revised 1949 Essex Sheet N. LXXXVI.12].


Barking power station continued to expand. Station 'B' east of the original unit, was opened in 1934. This increased the generating capacity to 390,000 kW. Over 3,000 square miles (7,770 square km) of the Country was now drawing its electricity from Barking [B.E. & I.A., 3/2/34]. By 1934 certain materials were being deposited on the marshland surface (by the power station). Between Ripple lane and the power station there was an ash dump. Immediately north of both there was a large coal reserve [The Engineer 1934]. An aerial photograph taken in 1941 seems to indicate that the ash dumps and coal reserves were now covering a more extensive area than they previously had in 1934. These were centred around River Road (to the north of the generating station) [London-Dagenham, Hauptwerk Der Ford Motor Co." 1941]. During this period there were two seemingly conflicting ways of disposing of pulverised fuel ash (PFA): 1) 'a further advantage of a river site is the ashes, which rarely have any commercial value and which, at Barking, amount to more than 1/7 th. of the coal burned, can be disposed of more easily usually by loading into barges for dumping at sea' [The Engineer 1934]; 2) Ash pits from each boiler will be large enough to contain 18 hours make of ashes, and as a market exists for the ashes, arrangements have been made so that the ash pits can be discharged direct into railway wagons [CLESCL 1931]. Whether these quotes are referring to the disposal of different grades of ash or if there is some other reason for the discrepancy has not been established. One theory (forwarded by the author) is large scale dumping did not occur in the area until station 'C' came on line (see below). For certain though, the assumptions made by Evironmental Resourses Ltd. (re: 5.9.2) in calculating the extent of PFA deposits at Barking Reach cannot be wholly correct. Towards the end of this period the third station 'C' was under construction, This would add to 'A' and 'B' to increase the generating capacity in the future. Station 'C' was sited east af 'A' and 'B' [OS Revised 1949 Essex Sheet N XXXVI.12].


g) 1950 to 1964:  A 1½ mile section of Ripple Road from Lodge Avenue, Barking to Chequers Lane, Dagenham was widened into a dual carriageway and two cycle tracks [D.P. & B.G. (No 1866) 25/2/59]. Without a doubt this was the most major development during this period (not  including the  laying  out  of new Thames  Veiw Estate).The OS map of 1950 (figure 3.2(d)) portrays the northern part of Renwick Road (from just south of the LTSR to the Ship and Shovel PH) in broken lines. Additionally, it was named the 'Grass Road' presumably, at the time the road was not hard surfaced and probably little more than a marshland lane. Thames Road was to become of great importance in the development of the marshland. On the map it can be seen extending eastwards from River Road into Barking Level. In later years this was to be the centre of an industrial estate (cf. River Road) but only one building was present in 1950 [OS 1950 Sheet TQ48 SE 6": mile].


A huge railway marshelling yard costing £190,000 was opened in 1958. It consisted of 53 sidings and could accommodate 162 wagons. It stretched from Renwick Road eastwards to Dagenham Dock [D. & B.P., No: 2199, 1/9/65]. At the time of writing (1991) this is still a prominent feature occupying a large area north-east of the Barking Reach. Since those early days it has been modified to handle containers.


Back in July 1949 Barking Council were discussing the possibility of using 160 acres (64 ha) of marshland, immediately south of the By-pass and east of River Road, for housing purposes. However it was not until September 1953 that they entered into negotiations with Charlton Contractors Limited, for the erection of the first 113 dwellings on the site. By the 12th. of June 1954, when the estate opened, there were 1,700 dwellings plus. Included were schools, a church, clinic, shopping area and open spaces [Charlton 1954]. In 1966 the VCH (Vol.V) records that building continued until 1960, and that now the estate comprised of over 2,000 homes. Of note too (other than its size) was its location. Marshland had previously been thought of as unsuitable for housing but it was reclaimed via piles and rafts [Pugh 1966]. Because of its proximity to the Thames it was named the 'Thames View Estate'.


Creekmouth Village declined during the 1950's. The Little Mission Church of St. Paul closed in 1957. It was used in the war as an ARP station but reinstated after [B.E. & I.A. (No. 3033) 9/2/57]. The Dagenham Post and Becontree Guardian also reported the demise of the village 'The last links with the fishing village of Creekmouth are being severed. Slowly the village is being reduced to a pile of rubble. The old missionary church has been flattened to the ground. The sunday school is now being demolished and its only shop 'Bones' Stores has now been given the death sentence for the march of industry, in its search for land, is now swallowing up the remaining cottages, leaving only the Crooked Billet. Many of the villagers have moved out of their cottages. Some were glad to go to Thames View Estate nearby, for a more modern house, and to escape the constant threat of flooding from the Roding that joins the Thames at Creekmouth'. The article wrongly refers to Creekmouth as a 'fishing village' whereas its prime function was to serve Lawes Chemicals. It does though adequately document its last days. Four years earlier than the above, in 1953, the village of Creekmouth, then standing at,some 63 cottages owned by the Lawes Chemical Company Limited, was flooded during the 'Great Essex Flood', [B.E. & I.A. (No. 2877) 7/2/53]. 50 people were made homeless [Howson c. 1982]. No doubt this hastened the demise of the village. The flood, as its name suggests, also inundated many other low lying parts of the Essex coast (particularly Canvey Island). It was too, the last in a long line of such floods to breach the marshland sea defences in the Barking area (see 3.2).


The power station and its activities continued to expand throughout this period. The OS map of 1950 [Sheet TQ 48 SE, 6": mile] clearly shows station 'C' constructed. The area west of Renwick Road and north of Ripple Lane was still largely in marshland parcels, except for a large coal store immediately north of the power station. By 1961-62 there were steep embankments at the roadside, with tracks and lagoons in evidence indicating that dumping (of mostly PFA) had now reached a relatively advanced stage. Just west of Renwick Road, west and south of today's orchid site, two ponds were present [OS Large Scale 1961-62]. These may have been used to deposit PFA in, to prevent it being carried by the wind, a practice commonly used at such sites. Alternatively, it has been suggested they were used as reservoirs to supply the power station with water. It is the author's opinion the former is most probable. The OS of 1964 suggests no marshland parcels were still present west of Renwick Road by this time. The two ponds were still present. The CEGB switching station that was to be constructed in 1964 as yet was not shown (this was to be located north-west of the meeting of Renwick and River Roads, opposite the 'stile'). Some older maps (eg. that of 1950) show a rectangular parcel of marshland immediately north of the coal store, west of Renwick Road. Maps from 1964 onwards show a PFA lagoon of similar size and shape, but it is not in quite the same location. It lies slightly south of its 'old' position and now has steep embankments. The 1964 map itself seemingly indicates that this area may have been prepared for future dumping (possibly the floor was deepened by pushing the earth to the sides to form the steep embankments) [OS 1964, TQ 48 SW, 6": mile]. An aerial photograph from around 1958 [Valence House Museum] illustrated that PFA dumping east of Renwick Road had only just spilled over the first north-south track (leading from the stile). Lagoon type formations were clearly visible.


The local council had begun to use the area just west of Horseshoe Corner as a tip in the early 1950's. The site was controlled by the council for waste disposal. The waste was probably mainly of domestic refuse but exact records of the type of materials deposited are lacking. The early history of the site is equally unclear. It seems though dumping of this type continued from the early 1950's through to 1965 [Environmental Resources Ltd. 1988]. The aerial photograph from around 1958 [Valence House Museum] makes it quite clear that early dumping only took place in the eastern section of the tip adjacent to the newly diverted Goresbrook. The western part still had a small number of trees growing on it. The northern half of the site was not used for dumping until the 1970's. The photograph also shows a curious trapezium shaped marking on the northern part of the site. Just what it was could not be made out. It may be the remains of the old sewage works once operated by Romford RDC (see period 3.3 e), and then closed after the second world war. It is known that the old works was covered over when the when the tip was extended in the northern section.



h) 1965 to 1979:  No new roads of any significance appeared in this period, however, some ancient routes all but disappeared. The east-west section of Ripple Lane, rendered virtually unrecognisable during the last period, ceased to exist. Similarly, Choats Manor Way was largely buried under landfill. The latter route was located in the 'eastern section' of the marsh area (ie. east of Renwick Road).


In 1965 there was some doubt as to whether the Ripple Lane marshelling yard would continue [D. & B.P. No: 2199 1/9/65]. No reason was given why its future should be in balance, but it did continue to operate and still does at the time of writing (1991).


Other than the Gascoigne Housing Estate (built mid-60's to mid-70's), that replaced an earlier housing scheme in the north-west of the area, there were no developments of note of this type during this period (particularly on 'virgin' marshland). It will be seen though that future housing projects on previously undeveloped land were postulated.


Industry came and went: There was development east of the council tip, tanks and works had now appeared on the site [Fairly Survey Ltd. 1966], yet in July 1966 Lawes Chemicals went into liquidation after 109 years of operation in the area [B. & D.A.No: 3674 19/7/69].


The  power station and its activities continued to expand. An aerial survey from 1966 shows the massive rectilinear form of the CEGB switching station just north of the power station itself. An OS map of 1975 [TQ 48 SE, 1: 10,000] shows there were three power lines transversing the north of the area and that another was under construction. By  1979  all four  were  complete [OS 1979, TQ 48/58, 1: 25,000]. Additionally, various deposits were continuing to be dumped over an ever larger area of the marshes. Ironically, in the light of the 'Barking Reach' proposals of the late 1980's and 1990's, further expansion of the power station and housing development were being looked at as options for vacant land: An iterim report issued jointly by the working parties of the GLC, LBA and CEGB 'The Future of Electricity supplies in Greater London said "the London Borough of Barking and the CEGB should endeavour to reach a solution which would allow the siting of additional generating capacity in Renwick Road area, together with housing development- the whole being acceptable as a harmonious planning concept." Interestingly, although joint working party envisaged a conventional power station they believed in the foreseeable future a nuclear powered plant in a highly populated area would be possible.


The dumping of PFA and coal over the remaining open area west of Renwick Road was virtually complete before the close of the last period (1950 to 1964). The 1966 aerial survey shows the larger (most southerly) of the two ponds (represented on the maps of 1961 to 1964) immediately west of the road had already disappeared and was partly covered by the switching station development. The smaller pond to the north-west was still present and flooded (this was to become the wet area east of the city farm). There were also a few small trees on the dividing embankment of the pond and what was to become the 'copse'. No trees were yet visible in the area of the copse itself. A land use survey was conducted between 1960 and 1968 [Isle of Thanet Geographical Ass'n]: The copse area was designated as 'grass moor'. Considering it takes around three years for PFA to be colonised by plants to this stage, it follows that the dumping of material in this area probably ceased no later than the early 1960's. The same land use survey described the land west of the copse, up to and including the city farm site, as a 'tip'. The allotments of the western Reach are depicted in their present site, although by this time those in the southern half were referred to as 'grass moor' presumably already having degraded to this condition. Allotments were also shown north of Thames Road. Other land, including the future site of the central lagoon was designated 'public utilities'. It seems then, that dumping had already been discontinued over certain parts of the site, whereas in other areas it was still actively practised. By the close of the period, however, it is unlikely that the deposition of PFA and other materials was continuing on any significant scale west of Renwick Road.


The aerial [Fairly] survey of 1966 portrayed the extent of waste deposition east of Renwick Road: There was a lagoon, near the road, to the north-west of the open area, this was flooded in low lying areas. There was no obvious dumping immediately north of the Thames seawall (west of Horseshoe Corner). The part of the council tip site, north of the old Choats Manor Way route, had not yet been dumped upon, there were some small trees south of the site to become the central PFA ponds. Finally, most of the undeveloped marshland (of earlier times) that lay between the A13 and the LTSR had disappeared, covered by encroaching industry. The land use survey of 1960 to 1968 [Isle of Thanet Geographical Ass'n] designated Horseshoe Corner and the land north of it as 'commercial and residential'. The whole of the area of the council tip was designated a 'tip'. A strip of land to the north-west of the Thames seawall was shown as 'grass moor'. The area of the PFA dump to the north-east of Renwick Road was termed as 'grassland'. The OS of 1975 [TQ 48 SE, 1: 10,000] indicates that there were 'active workings' on a strip of land just north-west of the Thames seawall. The OS of four years later depicted similar areas a little further north, lying between the PFA pits (adjacent to Renwick Road) and the council tip [OS TQ 48/58, 1: 25,000]. 'active workings' in this instance referred to areas where dumping was in progress. Large quantities of brick, concrete, steel cable and other rubble were dumped in these workings. A thin covering of soil is still evident today (ie. 1991) but it is not deep enough to properly cover the contents: the surface is  rough and uneven with protrusions of 'hardcore'. Only two small areas of land have been shown to have escaped dumping (see 3.4(c). These areas are flat, low lying and prone  to flooding. Here  the 'original' grazing  marshland  floor is exposed [Vickers D. 1990]. The Renwick Road tip, as it became known (ie. the council tip) was controlled by the GLC between 1965 and 1975. During this time the filling of the site with domestic refuse continued. From 1975 to 1982 the site was 'restored' using imported inert fills. A licence was issued in 1977 and ammended in 1978 to allow the disposal of domestic waste, contaminated soil, and mines and quarries waste [Environmental Resources Ltd. 1988]. Other records show that 2% asbestos contaminated waste from Whiting Avenue, Barking was deposited in the landfill post-1978, in the southern part of the site. Licences were also issued (between 1977 and 1983) to allow the dumping of nickel compounds, household refuse and commercial silt and dredgings on unspecified CEGB land. There was too a PFA transfer site in River Road, licences were granted and regularly revised between  1978 and 1986 [Aspinwall Data 1990].


Dumping then, generally started later east of Renwick Road, than it did in the west and continued to a later date. However, The CEGB land east of the road was first used as a PFA dump back in the 1950's. It was both one of the earliest, and amongst the first of such dumps to have been deserted and thus, one of the earliest of such areas to be recolonised by plants . Grazing by cattle was continued over the whole site east of Renwick Road throughout the period (with areas of active workings  temporarily fenced off), Thus the establishment and maintenance of a rough grassland flora resulted. Conversely, in the section west of the road, grazing probably had ceased over the whole site by the mid-1950's. This meant that on its desertion as a PFA dump the colonisation of plants was able to proceed, unhindered by cropping, leading to the growth of trees and shrubs.



3.4 RECENT HISTORY (1980 TO 1990)


a) General:  Barking Power Station that had dominated the old marshland area for more than 50 years closed in October 1981. In 1982 it was manned only by a skeleton staff and used as a switching or relay station [D.& B.A. No: 4377 24/3/82]. It was not until 1988 though that the demolition of the main power station buildings commenced. However, the switching station itself was to remain. The CEGB owned around 400 acres (161 ha) of the 'Barking Reach' site. Firstly, the bulk of the land  was passed on  to its newly created division National Power in April 1990, it was subsequently privatised to become National Power PLC. The switching station and its immediate surrounds were to come under the control of National Grid PLC.


The council tip remained unused between 1982 and 1988 [Environmental Resourses Ltd. 1988] and to the author's knowledge has not been used since. It seems probable too, that any remaining active PFA dumps were closed with the power station.


The LBB & D Council minutes of January to June 1986 mention the Renwick Road to Dagenham Dock access road scheme. The road would run south of the LTSR and parallel to it. 'Stage One' of the project, as it was called, extended from Renwick Road to the council tip and 'stage two' from the tip to Chequers Lane. The Council minutes of July to December suggest the first stage was to be constructed during 1987 (it seems this was the case) stage two, as yet, has not been built. The LBB & D Council minutes of July to December 1988 tell of the proposed construction of around 1,180' (360 m) extension of Thames Road to link with Renwick Road. The road was built during 1988, most likely, towards the end of the year.


b) City Farm and Thameside Park:  Around the same time as the power station was closed down negotiations were underway to secure (at least on a short term basis) part of the area west of Renwick Road as a nature reserve, city farm and ecology park. A communication from around the time reads "Thames-side Park is located on 33 acres (13 ha) of CEGB (open) land west of Renwick Road and north (and east) of River Road. The CEGB licenced the land rent free; It is proposed the Park will house a 5.5 acre (2.2 ha) 'city farm' and a 27.5 acre (11.1 ha) 'nature reserve', part of the latter (a fly-ash tip area) is to be reclaimed and turned into a ecology park... the history of Thameside Park began in August 1981 when a steering committee was set up with the advise of Mrs. Stevens (the organiser of Barking VSO) then it was termed the 'Curzon Project' this was a local community organisation based in Thames View; the steering committee was composed of various Barking and Dagenham residents and local branches of charity status organisations (eg. FoE, WWF, LWT, Riding for the Handicapped and S.E. Essex Rabbit Fanciers Society).  Regarding the city farm, links have been forged with various groups for the less abled bodied and the scheme affiliated to the National Federation of City Farmers" [Watson B. (Feb.) 1983]. Many ideas and proposals were envisaged for the future of Thameside Park, and the city farm in particular. Amongst these were: horse and pony rides (including for the handicapped), road building, portable buildings (animal housing and activity centre). The Manpower Services Commission were to employ around 25 persons. The site was also to be used by the Probation Service. Activities for children were to be given a prominant place [Watson B (Jan.) 1983]. Most of these proposals were to become a reality. A park manager was appointed by the Thameside Park Association: Wendy Bomberg (she was elected as a local councillor in 1990). A report issued by the London Ecology Unit in 1988 stated that the land west of Renwick Road (ie. Thameside Park) was being managed as a nature reserve (and city farm) under a Community Programme scheme [Britton I]. There was no grazing so vegetation was relatively tall and there was some tree growth and scrub invasion. Conversely, the land east of Renwick Road, it has been mentioned (see 3.3(h)), continued to be grazed and was otherwise little managed. Thus grassland developed over the area. On the 30th. August 1986 the city farm was officially opened. Throughout the 1980's and into the 90's the park, and the  rest of the Reach, has been subjected to a number of surveys both to assess potential for future development (see chapter 4) and to try to establish conservation value. Thameside Park continues to today under a short term licence from National Power. Initially, it was proposed that when this area is developed, the site would be 'transferred' to the old council tip east of Renwick Road but now, it seems, the park will remain in its present location.


c) The Last Grazing Marsh:  Two areas of 'original marshland' have been identified at Barking Reach, both lay east of Renwick Road. The largest is located between the first and second tracks (see Main Reference Map, back cover). It has an overall area of around 9 acres (_ 3.5 ha). It is composed of three parts of ancient parcels of marshland. The histories of which can be dated back to the 17th century, but there is little doubt they originated significantly earlier than this. All three of the complete parcels at one time were under the ownership of Barking Manor, although they were tithed to the demense manor of Eastbury. For example, the 1740 Commissioners of Sewers Survey attributed ownership of these to Lady Humphreys (then the lord of the manor of Barking). The parcels were assigned tithe numbers: 1521, 1522 and 1523. In time these fields were to change hands and become the properties of a number of other landowners. All the marsh fields were worked by tenant farmers during the 17th. and 18th. centuries (and it is reasonable to assume both before and after too). Tenancies appear to have changed regularly and not passed on in families: between 1671 and 1751 (80 years) each marshland parcel had at least three tenants. There was a slight change in boundaries between 1727 and 1740 when field number 1522 was expanded slightly at the expense of 1521. Fuller details appear in Appendices D and E. Parts of these three parcels still exist today (1991) their extent is indicated in the main reference map (page 156) and figure 1(a). These appear as shallow trenches that are clothed in grass. There are only sparse areas of brackish flora in the trench bottoms. The marshland floor itself is flat, low lying and prone to flooding in wet weather. Around its perimeter rise steep banks of dumped materials. Although the marshland is still grazed by cattle, there is no sign of recent maintenance of floor and ditches [Vickers D. 1990].


A second, much smaller, area that is likely to be ancient marsh is located just west of the council tip and immediately south of the LTSR. It has an area of around 2.2 acres (_ 0.9 ha) but is bisected by Barking Council's (stage one) Renwick Road to Dagenham Dock access road. The remnant is triangular in shape, to the east and south-west side rise banks of tipped materials. The one short drainage ditch within the area seems to have been recently managed and is full of stagnant water and aquatic flora. The site is covered in short, relatively lush grassland that is regularly grazed by cattle [Vickers D. 1990]. Historically the area is just part of the marshland parcel 1512. Like the above parcels it was owned by the  lord of the manor of Barking, but tithed to Eastbury. Over the same 80 year period, cited above, the tenancy changed on at least three occasions (see Appendix D for further information).  

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