Barking Abbey curfew tower with St Margaret's Church in background
Barking is located in Greater London
Location within Greater London
Population59,068 (2011 census)[1]
OS grid referenceTQ440840
• Charing Cross10 mi (16 km) W
London borough
Ceremonial countyGreater London
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townBARKING
Postcode districtIG11
Dialling code020
UK Parliament
London Assembly
List of places
51°32′N 0°05′E / 51.54°N 0.08°E / 51.54; 0.08

Barking is a riverside town in East London, England, within the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. It is 9.3 miles (15 km) east of Charing Cross. The total population of Barking was 59,068 at the 2011 census.[note 1][2] In addition to an extensive and fairly low-density residential area, the town centre forms a large retail and commercial district, currently a focus for regeneration.[3] The former industrial lands to the south are being redeveloped as Barking Riverside.[4]

Origins and administration


The name Barking 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". In AD 735 the area was Berecingum and was known to mean "dwellers among the birch trees".[5] By AD 1086, it had become Berchingae as evidenced by the manor's entry in the Domesday Book.[6]

Manor of Barking

Barking was a huge Manor (landholding), first mentioned in a charter in 735 AD (though the Abbey is believed to have been founded in 666 AD). The Manor covered the areas now known as Barking, Dagenham and Ilford. The Manor was held by the Nunnery of Barking.

The Fanshawes were a prominent local family who were lords of the manor of Barking from 1628 to 1857. They owned and lived in a number of manor houses in the borough, including Valence House, Jenkins, Parsloes and Faulks, and gifted the Leet House to the residents of Barking.[7]


The Parishes of England were, with a few exceptions, fixed for around 700 years from the late 12th century onwards.[8] The huge Manor of Barking was served by two Ancient Parishes, Barking and Dagenham. This reversed the usual situation (for smaller, and even quite large Manors) where a parish would serve one or more manors. As with other manors, the area held by the declined over time, but the parish boundaries based on its former extent remained constant.

A map showing the wards of Barking Parish in 1871. The Ancient Parish covered both Barking and Ilford.

The Parish of Barking covered the areas now known as Barking and Ilford. Barking was a large ancient parish of 12,307 acres (49.80 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 (15.43 km2).[9]

Modern local government

Barking Town Hall, the former town hall of the Municipal Borough of Barking

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. The part west of the River Roding, which included part of Beckton, became part of the London Borough of Newham. In 1980 the borough was renamed Barking and Dagenham.[10]


Historically, Barking was an ancient parish that straddled the River Roding in the Becontree Hundred and historic county of Essex. It underwent a shift from fishing and farming to market gardening and industrial development on the River Thames. Barking railway station opened in 1854 and has been served by the London Underground since 1908. As part of the suburban growth of London in the 20th century, The Urban District of 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, and part of Greater London in 1965.


Statue of St Erkenwald, founder of the Abbey

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 in 970 by King Edgar. The celebrated writer Marie de France may have been abbess of the nunnery in the late 12th century. At the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536, Barking Abbey was demolished; the parish church of St Margaret, some walling and foundations are all that remain. The parish 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.[11]

Architecture: historic buildings

St Margaret's Church.

St Margaret's Church is a grade I listed building in the Abbey Green area of the Town Centre, dating back to the 13th century. It is built within the grounds of Barking Abbey, a former royal monastery, whose ruins are recognisable for its partially restored Grade-II* Listed Curfew Tower, which features on the coat of arms of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.

Eastbury Manor House in Barking is a Grade I listed 16th century Elizabethan manor house and museum run by the National Trust.


Fishing was the most important industry from the 14th until the mid-19th centuries. Salt water fishing began before 1320, when too fine nets were seized by City authorities, but expanded greatly from the 16th century. Fisher Street (now the southern part of Abbey Road) 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 in Barking Pool. Scymgeour Hewett, born on 7 December 1797, founded the Short Blue Fleet (England's biggest fishing fleet) based in Barking, using smacks out of Barking and east coast ports. Around 1870 this fleet changed to gaff ketches that stayed out at sea for months; to preserve the fish they used ice produced by flooding local fields in winter. Fleeting involved fish being ferried from fishing smacks to gaff cutters 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 50-foot gaff cutters with great booms projecting beyond the sterns raced the fish to port to get the best prices.[12][13]

Until about 1870 the trade was mostly in live fish, using 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'.[12][13]

By 1850 there some 220 smacks, employing some 1,370 men and boys. The boats were typically 75 feet (23 m) long carrying up to 50 tons. During the wars of the 17th and 18th centuries they were often used as fleet auxiliaries by the Royal Navy, based at nearby Chatham Dockyard. The opening of rail links between the North Sea ports and London meant it was quicker to transport fish by train straight to the capital rather than waiting for ships to take the longer route down the east coast and up the River Thames. By the 1850s the Thames was so severely polluted that fish kept in chests quickly died. Consequently, the fishery slipped into decline in the second half of the 19th 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 £6000–7000. Many of its leading figures, including Hewett & Co, moved to Great Yarmouth and Grimsby. By 1900 Barking had ceased to be a fishing port, leaving only street and pub names as a reminder. A large modern steel sculpture entitled "The Catch" is another reminder.[14] The sculpture is on the roundabout at the end of Fanshawe Avenue.[15] The local fishing heritage is recorded at Valence House Museum.

Economic development

Boat building has a long history, 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. She broke in two and sank immediately, with the loss of more than 600 lives, the highest single loss of civilian lives in UK territorial waters. At that time there was no official body responsible for marine safety in the Thames; but the official enquiry resolved that the Marine Police Force based at Wapping be equipped with steam launches to replace their rowing boats to help them perform rescues.[16]

Historical pageant

To mark the incorporation of Barking as a municipal borough, a historical pageant featuring over 2000 performers took place in October 1931. Made of ten acts, the Elizabethan section was performed in part by the local Women's Citizens League.[17]


Vicarage Field Shopping Centre is located on Ripple Road in Barking town centre. It was opened in November 1990.[18]


Barking is located 9.3 miles (15 km) east of Charing Cross in Central London. It is bordered by Ilford to the north, Dagenham to the east and East Ham to the west.[19]

Town centre

Work underway on the Barking Learning Centre in March 2007. The top three floors contain 166 apartment units.[20] Work was completed in November 2007.[21]

Barking Town Centre is being regenerated through a number of schemes. It is one of the most deprived areas of Barking. The Abbey and Gascoigne wards in the town centre are ranked 823rd and 554th respectively - within the 10% most deprived wards in the country.[22][23]

The regeneration aims to achieve a more sustainable economy by investing in new quality retail outlets and creating a business centre; and to widen employment prospects, mainly by creating new "retail and business accommodation", to increase the income of both existing and new residents.[24] 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. It was officially opened on 10 June 2008 by John Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills.[25]

The town centre development intends to improve the quality and range of housing, aiming to create 4,000 new homes: 25% will be intermediate housing, affordable for local residents to buy. There will 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.[20]

Plans for the new town square were unveiled in September 2007. The development is part of the Mayor of London's 100 Public Spaces, and it was completed in 2008, designed by muf architecture/art and Allford Hall Monaghan and Morris. It won the European Prize for Urban Public Space.[26]

Roding Riverside

Roding Riverside[27] is a name given to an area of Barking comprising the stretch of Abbey Road south of St Pauls Road, which runs parallel to the River Roding / Barking Creek and the area between. The quarter is post-industrial. Many buildings are late 20th century or early 21st century residential and commercial buildings, but some are Victorian industrial buildings adapted for use in arts and leisure fields, including a contemporary art gallery (the Laura I Gallery), with a view to regenerating the area in part by drawing out the industrial heritage architecture.

One such Victorian building is a former Malthouse. Adjacent to this building stands a cluster of buildings together styled the Ice House Quarter,[28] which includes a former Ice House and a former Boat House[29]

A new building, Ice House Court[30] references the old Ice House and provides more artist studio space.

Barking Riverside

Main article: Barking Riverside

This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (September 2018)
Rivergate Centre, Barking, London

The Barking Riverside development is part of the London Riverside project, which aims to regenerate the Thames riverside area of East London through new homes, jobs, and services. Barking Riverside consists of 350 acres (1.4 km2)[31] of brownfield land and therefore needs site clearance and the removal of overhead power lines before it can go ahead. Construction began in 2008, with completion due around 2025. 10,000 homes are to be built, housing around 25,000 people. New transport links will be provided, including East London Transit and the extension of the Docklands Light Railway at Barking Riverside DLR station,[32] and the extension of the Gospel Oak to Barking line of the London Overground from Barking railway station to Barking Riverside, completed in 2022.

Barking and Dagenham Council has said that it does not believe the 10,800-home brownfield development to be viable without improved transport connections, and expects that the Treasury is likely to confirm funding in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Autumn 2013 statement.[33] 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 be built,[34] and the public will have access to two kilometres of Thames river front.[31] The Rivergate Centre, designed by van Heyningen and Haward Architects, provides the civic facilities for the initial phase of Barking Riverside, while a new square and 3FE primary school, which includes embedded community facilities, a nursery, church, flexible office suites for the PCT and Community Development Trust, as well as a MUGA and sports pitches are also planned. As yet unbuilt, the second phase provides 90 flats, local shops and a neighbourhood police post.[35]


In recent years, as a result of increased levels of immigration, Barking's population has become more multicultural and ethnically diverse, with growing South Asian and African communities forming a significant proportion of the local population. Between the 2001 and 2011 censuses, the White British population in the local borough fell by 38.75 per cent.[36] Local businesses and places of worship reflect Barking's diversity, with churches of various Christian denominations, mosques and gurdwaras serving as major community hubs.

In the 2011 census, the largest ethnic group in Abbey ward (which covers Barking town centre) was Pakistani at 17%, followed by 16% White British, 15% Black African, 13% Indian and 11% Other White.[37] Gascoigne ward (southern Barking) was 26% White British, 26% Black African and 13% Other White.[38] Longbridge ward (eastern Barking) was 35% White British, 18% Bangladeshi and 11% Pakistani.[39]

Barking's population grew steadily after urbanisation began in the late 19th century.[citation needed] Barking's population (if defined as approximating to the Abbey, Eastbury, Gascoigne and Longbridge wards) was 48,340 in 2011.[citation needed]

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


Primary schools include Northbury Primary School, Eastbury Primary School, St Margaret's Church of England and St Joseph's Roman Catholic.

Secondary schools include Barking Abbey School. Lady Aisha Academy is an independent Muslim Girls Secondary School which opened in September 2011 on Victoria Road.


The Lighted Lady of Barking, public art at junction of Abbey Road and London Road[40]

The town is situated mostly north of the A13 road and east of the River Roding near its confluence with the River Thames in east London. The Thames View Estate, Barking Reach (a small housing estate) and Barking Riverside are south of the A13. 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, c2c and London Bus and East London Transit routes. The east of Barking is served by Upney Underground station and the area south of the A13 is served by Barking Riverside railway station. The East London Transit bus rapid transit has a station beside the Vicarage Field Shopping Centre. The western end of the Yiwu-London railway line from China to the UK is located in Barking at the DB Eurohub.[41] It ran its first service in January 2017.



Neil Young recorded two tracks for his classic album Harvest, "A Man Needs a Maid" and "There's a World" with the London Symphony Orchestra at Barking Assembly Hall[42] (now the Broadway theatre), released in 1972.

Electronic band Underworld named their 2010 album Barking after the town. The band are associated with nearby Romford. The artist Ramz wrote a song called "Barking" in 2017.

Local media

Bedrock[43] is the local hospital radio service available online to the local area and broadcasting a range of health-related information focused on the local King George Hospital in Goodmayes and Queen's Hospital in Romford.

The Barking & Dagenham Post provides local news in print and online.


This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (September 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this message)

Barking F.C. are a non-league side. The team merged with East Ham F.C. to form Barking & East Ham United in 2001. This club later struggled and went out of business, but Barking F.C. was later reformed once again. Barking RFC are the town's rugby union team. Cricket, basketball and hockey are also popular sports in the area. A Parkrun takes place in Barking Park.

Public art works

Barking Town Centre has a number of recently[when?] commissioned sculptures and public art works.

In 2007, two small stones from remains of the medieval London Bridge were joined in a sculpture[44] in front of St Margaret's church facing the Barking Abbey ruins as part of several public artworks placed in Barking Town Centre by artist Joost Van Santen.

Notable people

Notable footballers from Barking include former England captains and defenders Bobby Moore and John Terry. The successful racing driver Scott Malvern who has won British and European Championships in Formula Ford and Formula Renault was born in Barking Hospital. Jason Leonard, who won 119 caps as a rugby union prop forward, was born in Barking and began his club career at Barking RFC.

The singer-songwriter and activist Billy Bragg was born in Barking,[45][46] as was U2 guitarist The Edge,[47] and singer Megan McKenna.[48]

See also


  1. ^ If defined as the Abbey, Eastbury, Gascoigne, Longbridge, and Thames electoral wards of Barking & Dagenham Council


  1. ^ Barking is made up of 5 wards in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham: Abbey, Eastbury, Gascoigne, Longbridge, and Thames. "2011 Census Ward Population Estimates | London DataStore". Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  2. ^ "2011 Census Ward Population Estimates | London DataStore". Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  3. ^ "Regeneration and Renewal". Archived from the original on 2 February 2007.
  4. ^ "About Barking Riverside". Archived from the original on 7 October 2011.
  5. ^ Stokes, H.G. (1948). "A Land of Woods and Water". English Place-Names. Edinburgh: B. T. Batsford Ltd. p. 6.
  6. ^ "Place name: Barking, Essex Folio: 17v Little Domesday Book Domesday... | The National Archives". Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  7. ^ Brookes, Andrew (9 August 2021). "Fanshawe portraits assessed in preservation effort for future generations". Barking & Dagenham Post. Retrieved 9 August 2021.
  8. ^ History of the Countryside by Oliver Rackham, 1986 p19
  9. ^ "Barking AP/CP through time | Population Statistics | Area (acres)". Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  10. ^ "The Mayor – Past Mayors". The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 16 May 2007.
  11. ^ "The ancient parish of Barking: Agrarian history, markets and fairs, A History of the County of Essex: Volume 5".
  12. ^ a b March, Edgar J. (1950). Sailing Trawlers.
  13. ^ a b "London Borough of Barking and Dagenham". Valence House Museum: Heritage and History: Maritime and Fishing Heritage. 2010. Archived from the original on 26 May 2010. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  14. ^ "Arts Programme and Cultural Development: The Catch". Barking and Dagenham London Borough Council. Archived from the original on 22 September 2010. Retrieved 27 February 2010.
  15. ^ "The borough of Barking". British History Online. Retrieved 26 January 2007.
  16. ^ Metropolitan Police official history Archived 16 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine accessed 26 January 2007
  17. ^ "The Barking Historical Pageant | Historical Pageants". Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  18. ^ "Barking & Dagenham Local History".
  19. ^ Mayor of London (February 2008). "London Plan (Consolidated with Alterations since 2004)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 June 2010.
  20. ^ 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 16 May 2007.
  21. ^ "Barking Central 1, London". Housing Design Awards 2008. Archived from the original on 1 June 2009. Retrieved 6 May 2009.
  22. ^ "Indices of Deprivation 2000 for Wards – Area: Abbey (Ward)". Neighbourhood Statistics. January 2000. Retrieved 20 May 2008.
  23. ^ "Indices of Deprivation 2000 for Wards – Area: Gascoigne (Ward)". Neighbourhood Statistics. January 2000. Retrieved 20 May 2008.
  24. ^ "Barking Riverside PDF" (PDF). The London Borough of Barking & Dagenham. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 16 May 2007.
  25. ^ "Extra Opportunities with Barking Learning Cente Launch".
  26. ^ Barking Town Square: First Prize 2008, Retrieved 2012-02-08.
  27. ^ Tomas Klassnik (1 January 1980). "The Klassnik Corporation : Roding Riverside : Public Landmark : Barking". Archived from the original on 27 December 2015. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  28. ^ "The Ice House Quarter". The Ice House Quarter. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  29. ^ The Boathouse. "The Boathouse". The Ice House Quarter. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  30. ^ "IceHouse Court, Barking Studios Opening Soon!". Bow Arts. 4 February 2016. Archived from the original on 27 October 2017. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  31. ^ a b "Project Description". Barking Riverside. Archived from the original on 11 December 2006. Retrieved 16 May 2007.
  32. ^ "DLR extension for Barking Riverside". Building Design (1713). 17 March 2006.
  33. ^ "Barking scheme to get rail link". Inside Housing. 18 October 2013. Archived from the original on 24 October 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  34. ^ "London Riverside – Barking Riverside". The London Borough of Barking & Dagenham. Archived from the original on 14 June 2007. Retrieved 16 May 2007.
  35. ^ "AJ Specification 07.12 - Colour & texture". Architects Journal. 19 July 2012.
  36. ^ Judah, Ben (17 February 2015). "Ben Judah: Pricing London's poor out of its centre is a recipe for". Evening Standard. London. Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  37. ^ Good Stuff IT Services. "Abbey - UK Census Data 2011". UK Census Data. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  38. ^ Good Stuff ITServices. "Gascoigne - UK Census Data 2011". UK Census Data. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  39. ^ Good Stuff IT Services. "Longbridge - UK Census Data 2011". UK Census Data. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  40. ^ "Public Art in Barking and Dagenham: Barking Town Centre Artscape". Barking and Dagenham London Borough Council. Retrieved 27 February 2010.[permanent dead link]
  41. ^ "China-UK freight train arrives in London". BBC News. 2017. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  42. ^ Barker, David (12 September 2006). 33 1/3 Greatest Hits. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. p. 55. ISBN 978-1-4411-1234-7.
  43. ^ "Bedrock (Hospital Radio)". Bedrock (Hospital Radio).
  44. ^ "Searching for the granite blocks from old London Bridge | London My London | One-stop base to start exploring the most exciting city in the world". Retrieved 14 October 2017.
  45. ^ "32. Billy Bragg - London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Council". London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Council. Archived from the original on 8 April 2016. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  46. ^ (, Billy Bragg. "Billy Bragg - Battle for Barking". Archived from the original on 10 October 2017. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  47. ^ Dunphy, Eamon (1988). Unforgettable Fire: The Story of U2. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-010766-5.
  48. ^ Cooper, Lucy (10 May 2019). "EVERYTHING You Need To Know About Megan McKenna". Daily Feed. Retrieved 13 October 2019.

Further reading