Main Births etc
Coordinates: 51°32′N 0°05′E / 51.54, 0.08
Barking abbey curfew tower london.jpg
Barking Abbey curfew tower with St Margaret's Church in background

Barking is located in Greater London

 Barking shown within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ440840
    - Charing Cross 8.8 mi (14.2 km)  W
London borough Barking & Dagenham
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BARKING
Postcode district IG11
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament Barking
London Assembly City and East
List of places: UK • England • London

Barking is a suburban town in east London, England and the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. It is located 8.8 miles (14.2 km) east of Charing Cross and is one of 35 major centres identified in the London Plan.[1] It was historically a fishing and agrarian settlement in the county of Essex and formed an ancient parish. The economic history of Barking is characterised by a shift to market gardening, and industrial development to the south adjacent to the River Thames. The railway station opened in 1854 and was served by electric London Underground services from 1908. As part of the suburban growth of London in the 20th century, Barking significantly expanded and increased in population, primarily due to the development of the London County Council estate at Becontree in the 1920s, and became a municipal borough in 1931. It has formed part of Greater London since 1965. In addition to an extensive and fairly low density residential area, the town centre forms a large retail and commercial district, which is currently a focus for regeneration.[2] The former industrial lands to the south are also being redeveloped as Barking Riverside.[3]


Barking (parish) population
1881 16,848
1891 14,301
1901 21,547
1911 31,294
1921 35,523
1931 51,270
1941 war #
1951 78,170
1961 72,293
# no census was held due to war
source: UK census


Its name came from Anglo-Saxon Berecingas, meaning either "the settlement of the followers or descendants of a man called Bereca" or "the settlement by the birch trees".

"Barking", in English slang, is short for "barking mad". Barking is sometimes cited as the origin of the phrase. This is attributed to the alleged existence of a medieval insane asylum attached to Barking Abbey. However, the phrase is not medieval, and first appeared only in the 20th century.[4] A more likely derivation is from comparing an insane person to a mad dog.[5]

Local government[]

Barking was a large ancient parish of 12,307 acres (49.805 km2) in the Becontree hundred of Essex. It was divided into the wards of Chadwell, Ilford, Ripple and Town. A local board was formed for Town ward in 1882 and it was extended to cover Ripple ward in 1885. In 1888 Ilford and Chadwell were split off as a new parish of Ilford, leaving a residual parish of 3,814 acres (15.435 km2).[6] The parish became Barking Town Urban District in 1894 and the local board became an urban district council. The urban district was incorporated as the Municipal Borough of Barking in 1931. It was abolished in 1965 and split with the majority merged with the former area of the Municipal Borough of Dagenham to form the London Borough of Barking. Barking land that was west of the River Roding, which included part of Beckton, became part of the London Borough of Newham. In 1980 the London Borough of Barking was renamed Barking and Dagenham, which is part of East London.[7]

Urban development[]

The manor of Barking was the site of Barking Abbey, a nunnery founded in 666 by Eorcenwald, bishop of London, destroyed by the Danes and reconstructed about a hundred years later in 970 by King Edgar. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536, Barking Abbey was demolished; apart from the parish church of St Margaret, some walling and foundations are all that otherwise remain on the site. The church is an example of Norman architecture; Captain James Cook married Elizabeth Batts of Shadwell there in 1762, and it is the burial place of many members of the Fanshawe family of Parsloes Manor. A charter issued between 1175 and 1179 confirms the ancient market right. The market declined in the 18th century but has since been revived.[8]


Fishing was the most important industry in Barking from the 14th century, until the mid-19th. Salt water fishing from Barking began before 1320, when too fine nets were seized by City authorities, but expanded greatly from the 16th century. Fisher Street was named after the fishing community there. From about 1775 welled and dry smacks were used, mostly as cod boats, and rigged as gaff cutters. Fishermen sailed as far as Iceland in the summer. They served Billingsgate Fish Market in the City of London, and moored up at home in Barking Pool. Samuel Hewett, born on 7 December 1797, founded the Short Blue Fleet (England's biggest fishing fleet) based in Barking, and using smacks out of Barking and east coast ports. Around 1870 this fleet changed to gaff ketches which stayed out at sea for months, using ice for preservation of fish. This ice was produced by flooding local fields in winter. Fleeting involved fish being ferried from fishing smacks to steamer-carriers by little wooden ferry-boats. The rowers had to stand as the boats were piled high with fish-boxes. Rowers refused to wear their bulky cork lifejackets because it slowed down their rowing. At first the fast fifty-foot gaff cutters with great booms projecting beyond the sterns were employed to race the fish to port to get the best prices.[9][10]

Until about 1870 the trade was mostly in live fish, using the welled smacks in which the central section of the hull, between two watertight bulkheads, was pierced to create a 'well' in which seawater could circulate. Cod caught live were lowered into this well, with their swim bladders pierced, and remained alive until the vessel returned to port, when they were transferred to semi-submerged 'chests,' effectively cages, which kept them alive until they were ready for sale. At this point they were pulled out and killed with a blow on the head before being despatched to market, where because of their freshness they commanded a high price. People who practised this method of fishing were known as 'codbangers.'[9][10] By 1850, there some 220 smacks, employing some 1,370 men and boys. The Barking boats of this period were typically 75 feet (23 m) long carrying up to 50 tons. During the wars of the 17th and 18th century they were often used as fleet auxiliaries by the Royal Navy, based at nearby Chatham Dockyard. The opening of direct rail links between the North Sea ports and London meant it was quicker to transport fish by train from these ports straight to the capital rather than waiting for ships to take the longer route down the east coast and up the River Thames to Barking. In addition, by the 1850s the Thames was so severely polluted that fish kept in chests quickly died. Consequently, the Barking fishery slipped into decline in the second half of the nineteenth century. The decline was hastened by a storm in December 1863, off the Dutch coast, which caused the deaths of 60 men, and damage estimated at £6–7000. Many of its leading figures, including Hewett & Co, moved to Great Yarmouth and to Grimsby. By 1900, Barking had ceased to exist as a working fishing port, leaving only street and pub names and a large modern steel sculpture entitled "The Catch" as a reminder of its former importance to the town.[11] The sculpture is sited in the roundabout at the end of Fanshawe Avenue.[12] The local fishing heritage is recorded at Valence House Museum.

Economic development[]

Boat building has a long history at Barking, being used for the repair of some royal ships of Henry VIII. In 1848, 5 shipwrights, 4 rope- and line-makers, 6 sail-makers and 4 mast-, pump-, and block-makers are listed in a local trade directory. Hewett & Co continued in boat building and repair until 1899. Other industries replaced the nautical trades, including jute spinning, paint and chemicals manufacture. By 1878 Daniel de Pass had opened the Barking Guano Works (later de Pass Fertilisers Ltd, part of Fisons) at Creekmouth. Creekmouth was also the site of the major Barking Power Station from 1925 until the 1970s, burning coal shipped in by river; the current station known as Barking is further east near Dagenham Dock. In the 20th century new industrial estates were established, and many local residents came to be employed in the car plant at Dagenham.

Thames disaster[]

On 3 September 1878 the iron ship Bywell Castle ran into the pleasure steamer Princess Alice in Gallions Reach, downstream of Barking Creek. The paddle steamer was returning from the coast, via Sheerness and Gravesend with nearly 800 day trippers on board. She broke in two and sank immediately, with the loss of more than 600 lives, the highest ever single loss of civilian lives in UK territorial waters. At this time there was no official body responsible for marine safety in the Thames, the subsequent enquiry resolved that the Marine Police Force, based at Wapping be equipped with steam launches, to replace their rowing boats and be better able to perform rescues.[13]


Town centre[]

Work underway on the Barking Learning Centre in March 2007. The top three floors contain 166 apartment units.[14] Work was completed in November 2007.[15]

The Barking Town Centre area is being regenerated through a number of schemes. Currently, the town centre is one of the most deprived areas of Barking. The Abbey and Gascoigne wards, located in the town centre, are ranked 823rd and 554th respectively, which places them within the top 10% most deprived wards in the country.[16][17]

The regeneration intends to achieve a more sustainable economy for Barking town centre by investing in new quality retail outlets and by creating a business centre. The regeneration aims to enable people to widen their employment prospects, mainly through creating new "retail and business accommodation" which will provide employment and increase the income for both existing and new residents.[18] The regeneration also aims to improve people's skills. This is mainly achieved through the Barking Learning Centre; which aims to improve literacy, numeracy and other basic skills people may be lacking due to a previous lack of educational development. It currently acts as a borough-based learning facility. The Barking Learning Centre was officially opened on 10 June 2008 by John Denham, the then Secretary of State for Innovation, University and Skills.[19]

The Barking town centre development also intends to improve the quality and range of housing within the area. The regeneration will aim to create 4,000 new homes in the town centre. 25% of these homes will be classed as intermediate housing, and will therefore be affordable for local residents to buy. The will also be 4,000 socially rented homes, making it easier for first time buyers and people with low incomes to rent a property. To help make the development more sustainable, all private sector homes were to meet the Government’s decency standards by 2010.[14]

Plans for the new town square were unveiled in September 2007. The development is part of the Mayor of London's 100 Public Spaces. The redevelopment was completed in 2008, designed by muf architecture/art and Allford Hall Monaghan and Morris. It won the The European Prize for Urban Public Space.[20]

There are also two new places to eat within the Barking Town Centre development: Oishi [1], a Japanese restaurant, and Barking Apprentice [2], a social enterprise restaurant.


The Barking Riverside development is part of the larger London Riverside project, which aims to regenerate the riverside area of East London through providing new homes, jobs, and services. Barking Riverside is a 350 acres (1.42 km2)[21] brownfield land and therefore needs site clearance and the removal of overhead power lines before it can go ahead. Construction began in 2008, and the development is due to be completed around 2025. It will construct 10,000 new homes in the area, which will house around 25,000 people. New transport links will also be provided, including as the East London Transit and the extension to the Docklands Light Railway at Barking Riverside DLR station.[22] The development will also provide new public facilities, creating "a variety of living, working, leisure and cultural amenities". Two new primary schools and one secondary school will also be built.[23] Residents of Barking and Dagenham will also gain access to use of 2 kilometres Thames river front for the first time.[21] Barking Riverside are also developing two new primary schools and a secondary school.


The Lighted Lady of Barking, public art at junction of Abbey Road and London Road[24]

The town is situated north of the A13 road and east of the River Roding near its confluence with the River Thames in east London. The South Woodford to Barking Relief Road (part of the A406 North Circular Road) runs through the Roding Valley, and access to the town centre is by its junction with the A124, which until the late 1920s was the main route to and from London. Barking station is a local transport hub and is served by the London Underground, London Overground, National Rail operator c2c and many London Bus routes. The east of Barking is served by Upney tube station.


"A Man Needs a Maid" and "There's a World" were recorded by Neil Young with the London Symphony Orchestra at Barking Assembly Hall for Young's classic album Harvest, which was released in 1972.


Barking F.C. are a non-league side, and records indicate they were founded as early as 1865. The team merged with East Ham F.C. to form Barking & East Ham United in 2001. Barking has also produced numerous successful football players, including Bobby Moore and John Terry. This club later struggled and went out of business, but Barking F.C. was later reformed once again. Cricket, basketball and hockey are also popular sports in the area.

See also[]

  • List of people from Barking and Dagenham
  • List of schools in Barking and Dagenham


  1. ^ Mayor of London (February 2008). "London Plan (Consolidated with Alterations since 2004)". Greater London Authority. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Barking mad". The Phrase Finder. Archived from the original on 14 June 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-19. 
  5. ^ "Barking mad". World Wide Words. Archived from the original on 9 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-19. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "The Mayor – Past Mayors". The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. Retrieved 2007-05-16. 
  8. ^ "The ancient parish of Barking: Agrarian history, markets and fairs, A History of the County of Essex: Volume 5". 
  9. ^ a b March, Edgar J. (1950). Sailing Trawlers. 
  10. ^ a b "London Borough of Barking and Dagenham". Valence House Museum: Heritage and History: Maritime and Fishing Heritage. 2010. Retrieved 7 February 2010. 
  11. ^ "Arts Programme and Cultural Development: The Catch". Barking and Dagenham London Borough Council. Retrieved 27 February 2010. 
  12. ^ "The borough of Barking". British History Online. Retrieved 2007-01-26. 
  13. ^ Metropolitan Police official history accessed 26 Jan 2007
  14. ^ a b "Barking Town Centre Action Plan – 2003/04". The London Borough of Barking & Dagenham. April 2003. Archived from the original on 14 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-16. 
  15. ^ "Barking Central 1, London". Housing Design Awards 2008. Archived from the original on 1 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  16. ^ "Indices of Deprivation 2000 for Wards – Area: Abbey (Ward)". Neighbourhood Statistics. January 2000. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  17. ^ "Indices of Deprivation 2000 for Wards – Area: Gascoigne (Ward)". Neighbourhood Statistics. January 2000. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  18. ^ "Barking Riverside PDF" (PDF). The London Borough of Barking & Dagenham. Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-05-16. 
  19. ^ "Extra Opportunites with Barking Learning Cente Launch". 
  20. ^ Barking Town Square: First Prize 2008, Retrieved 2012-02-08.
  21. ^ a b "Project Description". Barking Riverside. Archived from the original on 2006-12-11. Retrieved 2007-05-16. 
  22. ^ (2006-03-17) "DLR extension for Barking Riverside". Building Design (1713). 
  23. ^ "London Riverside – Barking Riverside". The London Borough of Barking & Dagenham. Archived from the original on 14 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-16. 
  24. ^ "Public Art in Barking and Dagenham: Barking Town Centre Artscape". Barking and Dagenham London Borough Council. Retrieved 27 February 2010. 

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