infobox UK place
official_name= Barking
london_borough= Barking & Dagenham
region= London
country= England
constituency_westminster= Barking
post_town= BARKING
postcode_area= IG
postcode_district= IG11
dial_code= 020
os_grid_reference= TQ440840
longitude= 0.077226
latitude= 51.536469
map_type= Greater London

Barking is a suburban town in east London, England and the main district of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. It is a retail and commercial centre situated in the west of the borough and convert|9.1|mi|km|1|lk=on east of Charing Cross.


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: the parish church, St Margaret's stands upon its site, where some walling and foundations are all that otherwise remain. The Norman church of St Margaret was where Captain James Cook married Elizabeth Batts of Shadwell in 1762. St Margaret in Barking is also the burial place of many members of the Fanshawe family of Parsloes, including the memoirist Ann Fanshawe. [ [,M1 Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica, Vol. II, Joseph Jackson Howard, Hamilton, Adams & Co., London, 1876] ]

Barking was an urban district from 1894 and became a municipal borough in 1931. The Municipal Borough of Barking was abolished in 1965 along with the Municipal Borough of Dagenham and the area became part of the London Borough of Barking (renamed Barking and Dagenham in 1980). [cite web | title=The Mayor - Past Mayors | publisher=The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham | url= | accessdate=2007-05-16]

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 is sometimes cited as the origin of the phrase "barking mad", meaning "insane" or "intensely mad". 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. [cite web|title=Barking mad|publisher=The Phrase Finder|url= |accessdate=2008-05-19] A more likely derivation is from comparing an insane person to a mad dog. [cite web|title=Barking mad|publisher=World Wide Words|url=|accessdate=2008-05-19]


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. 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. This fleet used 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.

There was also a trade 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.'

By 1850, there some 220 smacks, employing some 1,370 men and boys. The Barking boats of this period were typically 75 feet long carrying up to 50 tons. During the wars of the 17th and 18th century they were often used as fleet auxiliaries by the 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 a few street and pub names as a reminder of its former importance to the town. [cite web | title=The borough of Barking | publisher=British History Online | url= | accessdate=2007-01-26]

Other industries

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 September 3rd, 1878 the iron ship "Bywell Castle" ran into the pleasure steamer SS|Princess Alice|1865|2 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 over 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. [Metropolitan Police [ official history] accessed 26 Jan 2007]

London Riverside development

The London Riverside is a new development area in East London, and part of the larger Thames Gateway redevelopment zone.

Barking Riverside

The Barking Riverside development is part of the larger London Riverside development, which aims to regenerate the riverside area of East London through providing new homes, jobs, and services. Barking Riverside is a 350 acrecite web | title=Project Description | publisher=Barking Riverside | url= | accessdate=2007-05-16] brownfield land and therefore needs site clearance and the removal of overhead power lines before it can go ahead. Construction is due to begin 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.cite journal | title=DLR extension for Barking Riverside | journal=Building Design | date=2006-03-17 | issue=1713] 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. [cite web | title=London Riverside - Barking Riverside | publisher=The London Borough of Barking & Dagenham | url= | accessdate=2007-05-16] Residents of Barking and Dagenham will also gain access to use of 2 kilometres Thames river front for the first time.

Barking Town Centre

Barking's Town Centre is also due to be 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. [cite web | title=Indices of Deprivation 2000 for Wards - Area: Abbey (Ward) | publisher=Neighbourhood Statistics | url= | month=January | year=2000 | accessdate=2008-05-20] [cite web | title=Indices of Deprivation 2000 for Wards - Area: Gascoigne (Ward) | publisher=Neighbourhood Statistics | url= | month=January | year=2000 | accessdate=2008-05-20]

The current Barking Town Centre development has an overall strategy and several aims. 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. [cite web | title=Barking Riverside PDF | publisher=The London Borough of Barking & Dagenham | url= | accessdate=2007-05-16|format=PDF] 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 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 are to meet the Government’s decency standards by 2010.cite web | title=Barking Town Centre Action Plan - 2003/04 | publisher=The London Borough of Barking & Dagenham | url= | month=April | year=2003 | accessdate=2007-05-16]

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 includes an 80-metre long arcade of chequerboard terrazzo, lit by 13 oversize gold coloured "chandeliers" created by Tom Dixon, former Head of Design at Habitat. There is also a fake ancient wall built by bricklayers Supervised by Shane moss,steve johnson and paul moss of excel brickwork using old bricks, crumbling white marble columns and battered sculptures, reclaimed from architectural salvage yards. The wall or "folly", known as the "Secret Garden", was unveiled on 11th September 2007.cite web | title=Regeneration work gathers pace as new borough attraction unveiled | publisher=The London Borough of Barking & Dagenham | url= | month=September | year=2007 | accessdate=2007-09-14]


Barking F.C. are a non-league side, and records indicate they were founded as early as 1865.fact|date=November 2007 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.

Notable people associated with Barking

*The Edge, lead guitarist of the Irish rock band U2.
*John Terry, currently captain of both Chelsea F.C. and England national football team.
*Tim Gane, composer and co-founder of the British post-rock group Stereolab.
*Bobby Moore, captain of the England World Cup winning team of 1966, also of West Ham United and Fulham.
*Billy Bragg, left wing singer/songwriter, commonly nicknamed "The Bard of Barking".
*McCarthy, 1980s indie pop band.
*Jason Leonard, former rugby union prop.
*Sir Trevor Brooking, football player turned manager, pundit and administrator.
*Bobby Zamora, footballer currently of Fulham F.C., formerly of Bristol Rovers, Brighton and Hove Albion and Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United.
*Paul Konchesky, footballer currently of Fulham F.C. and formerly of West Ham United and Charlton Athletic.
*Ross Kemp, actor whose notable roles include Grant Mitchell in "EastEnders" (first appearance in 1990 and most recent in 2006).
*Leanne Dobinson, finalist of BBC One programme "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria" in 2006.
*Brian Poole, lead singer with 1960s band The Tremeloes.
*Giles Barnes, Footballer of Derby County.
*Gary Baker (musician), musician, McCarthy.
*Jamie Guy, footballer of Colchester United.
*Lancelot Andrewes, late 16th/ early 17th century English scholar and clergyman, serving Queen Elizabeth I and King James I.
*Saint Ethelburga of Barking, local saint, founder and first Abbess of the monastery.


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.

Nearest places

*East Ham

Nearest stations

*Barking station
*Upney tube station


:"Local education is listed on the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham article"



External links

* [ Barking and Dagenham London Borough Council website]
* [ Barking Riverside development website]
* [ Barking Community Website]
* [ History of Barking through Trade Directories]

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