Barking Town Heritage Project

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Jake has designed a modern take on John H King's Draper's - art display showing landmark buildings and trades from Barking's heritage - to celebrate the Barking Town Charter of 1931. This Street Art Mural is a 2021 take on Barking's heritage, much of it lost but still valued by residents past and present and the stories have relevance for the newest visitors to this ancient town...

With help from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we are putting local heritage at the heart of changes to Barking town centre, with a focus on East Street and the surrounding conservation area.

Our aim is to conserve and commemorate historic buildings in the East Street area and to research and inform residents and visitors, about the stories behind the high-street stores and local heritage.

Our team of volunteers will develop a historic legacy by contributing to the creation of town trails and tours, learning resources, exhibitions and a permanent mural in East Street.

We hope that you can join

With help from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we are putting local heritage at the heart of changes to Barking town centre, with a focus on East Street and the surrounding conservation area.

Our aim is to conserve and commemorate historic buildings in the East Street area and to research and inform residents and visitors, about the stories behind the high-street stores and local heritage.

Our team of volunteers will develop a historic legacy by contributing to the creation of town trails and tours, learning resources, exhibitions and a permanent mural in East Street.

We hope that you can join us in ensuring that our local heritage continues to be a positive and relevant part of Barking’s evolving cultural identity.

Leave your details below if you are interested in becoming a Heritage Volunteer or if you have any questions .

With special thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Archives and Local Studies Library, who have provided support, training and access to their archives and photograph collection, including all of the heritage photos on this webpage. Contact localstudies@lbbd.gov.uk for further information on local archives.


Tell your story

These Stories behind the stores aim to reveal the historical origins of the buildings and locations of East Street and Barking Town Centre, and remind us of the local heritage which has often been lost to Barking residents. 

With the help of the Council's Archives and Local Studies Library we aim to research the stores and residences in our project area.  Some of the buildings still exist but many have been moderated, demolished, rebuilt, or redeveloped, often more than once. We hope to rediscover past uses and the people who lived or worked there and re-tell their stories to new audiences.

If you have any personal or family memories or knowledge from other residents about any of the buildings or locations mentioned here you are welcome to share  them with us...

Thank you for sharing your memories and stories with us.

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    The Winds of Change by Simone Panayi

    12 days ago

    North Street is an ancient road which like East street, has played a remarkable role in the history of Barking and before the railway arrived it was the main street in the town. We have previously reviewed the history of the Workhouse and Northbury House (Fulke’s Manor), distinctive buildings once situated on the east side of North Street, close to London Road. There are several other significant stories to tell about this street which ran from the Broadway intersection with Church Path, passing the Abbey (and later its ruins) in the direction of Uphall and Ilford.

    At its northern end... Continue reading

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    Northbury House by Lesley Gould & Simone Panayi - Part Two of a trilogy on North Street

    about 2 months ago

    Eastbury Manor House is well known in Barking, but Westbury and Northbury manors have left only their names behind – both are more widely known as schools today – two of the earliest council (Education Board) schools built in the borough - Westbury, built in 1904, is now a site of Ripple Primary. Northbury, built as North Street School in 1895, was later renamed, after Northbury House which was sadly demolished in 1936, to make way for the London Road extension. It left behind an interesting history…

    Northbury School today as viewed from upper North Street...

    The site of Northbury... Continue reading

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    North Street Stories - The Workhouse by Sue Hamilton

    3 months ago

    A workhouse was opened in Barking in 1722 in four tenements in North Street.

    An inspection report of March 1725 gives an impression of daily life for the inmates in the workhouse:-

    “Their employment consists of picking Ockam (this was old rope and cable or Junk purchased from merchants and teased out into fibres to be resold to shipbuilders for mixing with tar to seal the lining of wooden craft. This could also be used to make matting or bandaging). The women knit and mend stockings for the whole family, make beds and keep the house clean, and sometimes pick... Continue reading

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    The impact of Britain's colonial past on Barking's heritage by Simone Panayi

    7 months ago


    Tucked away in the tiny print of Victorian newspapers is a local story that should be shared this Black History Month and beyond – an incredible and inspirational story of transcending the suffering of slavery, to fight for freedom and equality. In October 1888, Revered W B Brown, and his wife, were on a lecture tour entitled, ‘Scenes in Slave Land’. They had travelled from Baltimore, in America, to speak out against slavery and addressed Barking Baptists at a temporary Baptist Chapel on Ripple Road (not the earlier chapel on Queen’s Road, sketched by Frogley, or the beautiful Tabernacle was... Continue reading

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    When Barking's Public Offices became a Magistrate's Court by Sue Hamiliton (retired magistrate)

    8 months ago

    In 1893 Barking's Public Offices were built on land in East Street that was previously a market garden. When borough status was conferred on Barking in 1931 it was decided that a new Town Hall was needed, and plans were approved in 1936. Due to austerity, the building of the Town Hall was halted until after the war and it was not completed until 1957.

    Meanwhile Barking Council fought to have a much needed Magistrates court in the old Public Offices and eventually received Home Office approval. Alterations were made to the building to make it suitable for use as... Continue reading

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    Barking's Public Offices

    9 months ago

    Of the borough’s listed buildings, the grade II* Barking Public Offices, also known as ‘Barking Magistrate’s Court’, is the only one with Victorian origins and remains one of the most imposing buildings in Barking and Dagenham. The imminent borough architect, Charles James Dawson, submitted its plans in July 1891 and Thomas W Glenny laid the foundation stone in 1893, underneath which, were placed: copies of a national and local newspaper, The Essex Times periodical and three silver coins. It cost £15,085 to build and was opened in October 1894, by philanthropist Mr J. Passmore Edwards, who also donated a thousand... Continue reading

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    Crime and Punishment in Barking Part 1: House of Correction and the Tudor Leet House by Sue Hamilton

    11 months ago

    House of Correction

    There was a House of Correction established in East Street, Barking under control of the Justices of the Peace to serve Becontree Hundred between 1609 and 1791 for criminals and lunatics. It was repaired and extended in that period but abandoned when new premises were designed by John Johnson, Surveyor to the County of Essex.

    The new building was on half an acre in nearby North Street, according to James Howson, the borough archivist in the 1970s, it was, 'about 400 yards north of St. Margaret’s Church, Barking and on the west side of the street.' It... Continue reading

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    The impact of World War Two on Barking Town Centre by Simone Panayi

    11 months ago

    Volunteers for the NLHF Barking Town Heritage Project have been sharing their findings about key buildings on East Street: the art deco Burton building, engraved with elephants, Marks & Spencer’s cream coloured corner store, of 1935, and Woolworth’s pilasters... These stores disappeared due to changes in fashion and commerce, but the buildings remain – other buildings have vanished…

    At this inauspicious time, when only a few shops and services remain open, we are reminded of previous crises, such as World War Two, when there were over 1700 bombing incidents across the borough and thousands of casualties, including, sadly, 426 lives... Continue reading

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    Marks & Spencer's - the original penny bazaar by Simone Panayi with Lesley Gould

    about 1 year ago

    The Barking Heritage Project has been celebrating the stories behind the stores and old buildings of East Street and the surrounding area. Barking town centre has changed a great deal since commerce first developed around its Saxon Abbey. Various shops have come and gone, and we want to share the tales they left behind.

    Continuing the theme of penny stores, the first one in Barking was probably, ‘The London Penny Bazaar’ on The Broadway. It can be seen in an old post card from the borough’s archives - this sepia photograph was taken before World War I, as it was... Continue reading

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    Pawnbrokers and Penny Stores

    about 1 year ago

    After the festive period, gift giving and indulgence follows the contrastingly bleak winter months and a period of self-deprivation: alcohol free, less calories and reduced spending… It is time to look back to thriftiness in Barking’s past - shopping here a hundred years ago involved pawnbrokers and penny stores.

    During the nineteenth century Robert Willet, inherited a drapery business (selling cloth), from his father, John, who became a Pawnbroker on North Street, by 1881. Around this time, Philip Barton owned the Unredeemed Pledge Stores at 5, East Street. He sold items that had been pawned and not reclaimed.

    Moneylending... Continue reading

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