Barking is an interchange railway station. It is served by London Underground, London Overground and National Rail Services (C2C). I am visiting it as it is the 9th station on the District Line (green coloured line on tube map) but it is also the Eastern Terminus for the Hammersmith and City Line (pink coloured line on tube map).The station opened in 1854 and was rebuilt in 1889.
a 50ft wide bridge spanning nine lines was opened in 1908. The District Line extended Eastwards to Barking in 1932 shortly followed by the Hammersmith and City Line in 1936.
The station building is a Grade II listed building because of its inclined concrete roof. I was surprised that there was no underground roundel visible on the platforms or on the outside of the building.
Instead it was visible on this signage by the roadside.
As I stepped outside the station it was obvious that this was the largest town I had visited on the District Line so far. There were numerous shops up and down the High Street. In 1965 Barking and Dagenham became one of the 32 London Boroughs, before that they were part of the county of Essex
I was here on a Friday so it was market day. This made it difficult to photograph some of the buildings as they were obscured by market stalls.
Built in 1894, the Magistrates' Court was originally the Town Hall. It has been used as a court until recently and is now used for retail and accommodation.
From the market I walked through into a tree lined, square. It had residential blocks on one side and the Town Hall on the other side. This recent development consists of 500 flats, a library and a learning centre with a number of classes to improve adult literacy in the Barking area.
Impressive walkway by the side of the library.
The open plan, bright library felt very welcoming and was a hive of activity. The librarian I spoke to was well informed and a huge help. Not only did she enlighten me on the history of the wall but she located many helpful books on Barking and its history and places of interest.
The wall is a modern folly built in 2007 from architectural salvage including 9000 reclaimed bricks. It was created by the Muf, a collaborative practice of architects and artists. It was built by bricklaying apprentices from Barking and Dagenham College. I found the folly fascinating. A mixture of old sculptures, reliefs and bricks which will challenge the onlooker and the curious. Although I wonder how many people walk past and just assume it has always been there.
After looking around the Square I went in search of the Barking Abbey ruins and the Curfew Tower.
In front of the Theatre is this statue. Job Drain fought during WW1 and was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military award for bravery, at the age of 18. He joined a group of soldiers who volunteered to save two artillery guns from the advancing enemy lines. He survived the war and returned to civilian life back in Barking and had a variety of jobs during his lifetime. He died in 1975 at the age of 79
The abbey was surrendered to the Crown in 1539 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries period. Demolition began the following year.
The Fishermen's window has numerous nautical motifs. In the background is the tower of St Margaret's above the warehouses on the quay. The middle section depicts a short blue fishing vessel at sea with a hive of activity around the catch at the Town's quay. The window was designed by George Jack (1855-1931), a well known figure in the arts and craft movement.
The ornate baptismal font dates from the Spanish Armada(1588) and is said to have been given to St Margaret's by grateful sailors asa gift to God for ensuring their safe passage through the battle.
Sadly I forgot to ask the organist's name but we had a very pleasant chat before I left. He also directed me to the town quay which was just across the green.
The street lamps on the quay are decorated with fishing themes.
Now Barking is in the middle of one of the biggest regeneration schemes in London. The council has a target of building 50,000 homes and creating 20,000 new jobs in the next 20 years. This is all part of the Thames Gateway project which aims to boost the economy of the whole Thames estuary region through the development of marshland, farmland and brownfield ( land previously used for industrial or commercial purposes). It is the largest regeneration scheme in North West Europe.
However. there has been much criticism of these ambitious plans building homes so close to the Thames Estuary with the projected rise in sea levels. There is also worries about the strain on the environment and other scarce resources.
Quakers disapproved of headstones in their burial grounds as they made a distinction between the rich, who could afford a memorial and the poor who could not. Only in 1850 did they officially allow headstones to be erected as long as there was no distinction in size between the stones.
At the other end of the high street in the middle of the roundabout is this steel sculpture called 'The Catch'.
Looking closer I could see that it was a pair of fishing nets, a nod to the town's heritage.
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