The ancient parish of Barking: Introduction

A History of the County of Essex: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1966.

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'The ancient parish of Barking: Introduction', in A History of the County of Essex: Volume 5, (London, 1966) pp. 184-190. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]


The ancient parish of Barking, about 9 miles east of London, included the whole area now (1964) in the municipal boroughs of Barking and Ilford. (fn. 1) It extended from the Thames north for nearly 7 miles, and was about 4 miles wide. It was the largest parish in Essex, comprising 12,307 a. (fn. 2) Until the 19th century the main settlement area was in the southwest of the parish, at the point where the river Roding joins Barking Creek, an inlet of the Thames. Here the small town of Barking had grown up in the Middle Ages, beside Barking Abbey, and had later become a flourishing fishing port. Two miles farther north, along the main London-Colchester road, was the village of Great Ilford, originally so called to distinguish it from Little Ilford, an adjoining parish. In 1830 Great Ilford became a separate ecclesiastical parish, and in 1888 a separate civil parish. It grew rapidly after 1888, mainly as a residential town for London office workers. A local board (later urban district council) was formed in 1890, and the town became the borough of Ilford in 1926. At Barking, where the fishing industry declined in the mid-19th century, modern growth was slower until the 1930's, when the London County Council completed its great Becontree housing estate, a third of which is in Barking. A local board was formed for Barking town ward in 1882, and in 1885 its district was extended to Ripple ward. Barking became a borough in 1931. In 1907 small adjustments were made in the boundaries between Barking and East Ham and Ilford and East Ham, (fn. 3) and in 1934 the boundary between Barking and Ilford was altered to bring the whole of Barking Park within the borough of Barking. (fn. 4) In 1956 there was a small adjustment of the Ilford-Wanstead boundary north of Redbridge. (fn. 5) In 1961 the area of Ilford borough was 8,404 a. and that of Barking 3,877 a. (fn. 6)

The following article has been divided into three main parts. In the first of these (pp. 184–235) each section relates to the whole of the ancient parish, but the period covered varies: the introduction, and the sections on agrarian history, manors, the abbey buildings, and charities, are taken to the present time; local government is taken (in two consecutive sections) up to 1888; the remaining sections are taken to 1830. The second main part (pp. 235–48) relates only to the area within the present borough of Barking, and the third (pp. 249–67) to that within the borough of Ilford. In the second and third parts the sections treating the various religious denominations are taken from 1830 onwards, and those on local government from 1888; each of the other sections is complete, without limits of date.

The land rises from the Thames to a height of about 230 ft. near Claybury Hospital in the north. From south to north the soil is mainly alluvial, then valley gravel, and finally London Clay. The gravel is overlaid in a number of places by pockets of brickearth. The Thames provides more than half the southern boundary — the part east of Creekmouth. The south-western corner of the parish, formerly known as West Marsh, lay west of Creekmouth. In that area old inundations and the shifting of watercourses led to difficulties in defining the boundary, especially with North Woolwich (a detached part of Woolwich (Kent)) to the south. (fn. 7) The river Roding provides most of the western boundary, though in two stretches, abutting on East Ham, the boundary follows Back River and the Aldersbrook, a little to the west of the present main channel of the Roding. The Roding (or Roden) was known before the 16th century as the Hile (recorded in A.D. 958) a British name from which that of Ilford was derived. (fn. 8) It is a small but mature river: even the 50-ft. contour does not cross it until well outside the parish, and ordinary tides flow as far up as Ilford Golf Course. Its meanders swing almost the full width of a flood plain, usually ¼ mile across, which has been flooded even in recent times. The transverse valley profile is steeper on the east and this is particularly noticeable just above Redbridge, where the river is eroding the foot of a 100-ft. spur running down from Claybury. There are other signs that the Roding has tended to shift eastwards. The fact that the parish boundary follows the Back River and the Aldersbrook suggests that these may originally have been part of the main stream. The Back River was probably the 'old Hile' (ealdan hilœ) mentioned in A.D. 958. (fn. 9) It is even possible that the great loop of the boundary around West Marsh may follow an abandoned meander. The western portion of West Marsh was once known by the strangely inappropriate name of 'Highland Hills', or 'Island Hills', (fn. 10) which sounds like a corruption of ealdan hilœ. In the early 18th century the river was slightly diverted during the construction of the ornamental 'Great Lake' in Wanstead Park. (fn. 11) An Act of 1737 provided for the improvement of the river, to permit barge navigation between Ilford Bridge and Barking Quay. (fn. 12) The improvements seem to have taken the form of cleansing and widening rather than altering the course of the river. From Ilford Bridge to the branching out of Back River the Roding runs fairly straight, forming the parish boundary throughout: this suggests that the control of the river here, for example by the wall that protects Little Ilford Levels to the west, is of ancient origin. The wall against East Ham Marsh was certainly there in the 14th century. (fn. 13) During the present century some of the westward meanders of the Roding have been occluded — notably the Aldersbrook near Ilford Bridge and the Back River near Barking Bridge.

About ¼ mile north of Ilford Bridge the Roding is joined by the Cranbrook (crane or heron brook), (fn. 14) which rises at Barkingside, north Ilford. The first documentary reference to the stream, then called Cranbrook rill, comes from 1650, (fn. 15) but its name was much older than that, since the manor of Cranbrook, named after it, occurs in the 13th century. (fn. 16) In 1456 the northern part of the stream was called Buntons Brook, (fn. 17) a name associated with a local family, and later used for Bunters or Bunting Bridge, near Aldborough Hatch. (fn. 18) In the 17th century extensive mill ponds were constructed above Bunting Bridge, on the Aldborough Hatch estate, (fn. 19) possibly to serve a tannery. (fn. 20)

A mile south of Ilford Bridge the Roding is joined by Loxford Water, a stream rising near Hog Hill, in Dagenham, and known in its upper reaches as Seven Kings Water. In 1456 the lower part of the stream was called Halywellbrooke. (fn. 21) The present name, first recorded in 1609, (fn. 22) is probably a back-formation from that of the manor of Loxford. The name Seven Kings Water, which occurs in 1609, (fn. 23) was probably applied at first to the point where the stream crossed the main Romford road. (fn. 24)

The Mayes Brook, which rises north of Chadwell Heath, flows south-west, to Barking Creek. The name, recorded from the 16th century, and probably derived from a local family occurring about 1300, (fn. 25) seems to have been first applied to the lower reaches of the stream, south of Longbridge. The stretch through Goodmayes was known in 1456 and later as Heavywaters, a name still in use within living memory. (fn. 26) Below Longbridge the Mayes Brook fed the moat and fishponds of Jenkins, (fn. 27) south of which it divided into two branches, passing east and west of Upney, the name of which means an 'island' in the marshes. (fn. 28) The western branch is now mostly in culverts; the eastern feeds the boating lake in Mayesbrook Park.

Bronze Age finds, in Barking Creek and the neighbouring marshes, have been sufficiently numerous to suggest habitation then. (fn. 29) Uphall Camp, in Ilford, was an Iron Age earthwork of the 1st or 2nd century B.C. (fn. 30) There was a Roman settlement on or near the site of Barking town, and another near Carswell, at Barkingside. (fn. 31) Roman finds have also been made at Uphall Camp. (fn. 32)

Barking ('Berica's people') (fn. 33) was probably a heathen Saxon settlement. (fn. 34) In or about A.D. 666 St. Erkenwald, Bishop of London, there founded an abbey, which became one of the greatest English houses of Benedictine nuns. (fn. 35) It was situated at the head of Barking Creek, and the town grew up to the south and east of it. In 1086 the manor of Barking was one of the most populous in Essex, with a recorded population of some 250. (fn. 36) Then, as later, it included Dagenham as well as Barking and Ilford, so that the population density was not exceptionally high but, since there was much forest in the north and marshland in the south, there must have been substantial settlements in the centre of the manor. (fn. 37)

In 1670 there were 461 houses in the parish. (fn. 38) In 1796 the number was 752, an increase of threefifths; the total population was then 4,123. (fn. 39) Lysons, who gives these 1796 figures, states that the population had increased by nearly two-thirds in the last hundred years, and that most of the increase had been in Ilford. His estimate appears to have been based partly on the numbers of baptisms and burials recorded in the parish register, of which he prints decennial averages for 1580–9, 1630–9, and 1730–9, and quinquennial averages for the period 1780–94. His figures agree fairly closely with recent calculations based on an analysis of the registers from 1558–1812. (fn. 40) Baptisms averaged 63.7 a year in 1570–9, 80.2 in 1670–9, 128.5 in 1770–9, and 154.9 in 1800–10. The 1801 census (probably less accurate than Lysons's survey of 1796) records a total population of 3,906. During the 19th century the population grew steadily. In 1891, just after the division of the parish, Barking (i.e. Barking town ward and Ripple ward) had 14,301 inhabitants, and Ilford (i.e. Ilford and Chadwell wards) 10,913. During the 1890's Ilford began to expand rapidly and by 1901 was almost twice the size of Barking. Subsequent growth in both boroughs raised the total population in the ancient parish to over 250,000 in 1961, of whom 178,000 were in Ilford. (fn. 41)

A map of 1777 (fn. 42) shows the parish before modern changes. In the extreme south was undeveloped marshland. Hainault Forest, in the north, (fn. 43) then comprised about 4,000 a., about half of which was in Barking. The main centres of population were Barking town and Ilford village. Two miles east of Ilford was the hamlet of Chadwell Street, straddling the main London-Colchester road. There were other hamlets at Little Heath and Padnall, on the south-east edge of the forest, and Barkingside on its south-western edge. Manor houses, farms, and cottages were more numerous to the north of the London road than to the south.

In the 18th century the most important road was that from London to Colchester, which ran through Ilford. This road (now called High Road) was probably of Roman origin (fn. 44) and is shown on early maps of Essex. (fn. 45) From 1721 it was controlled by the Middlesex and Essex Turnpike Trust, (fn. 46) and it continued to be the main road until 1925, when Eastern Avenue was opened about a mile farther north.

Another old main road through the parish was that linking London with Tilbury Fort. This branched from the Colchester road at Ilford village, and ran south to Barking town, as Barking (now Ilford) Lane. At Barking it swung east, along the edge of the marshes to Dagenham: this stretch, known in the 15th century and later as Ripple Street, (fn. 47) is now Ripple Road. About 1810 the Tilbury Fort Turnpike Trust shortened and improved the whole Tilbury road, providing a more direct route from London to Barking. The main purpose of this undertaking was to improve communications between Tilbury and the newly-built docks in east London, but its sponsors also expected that it would benefit Barking, where the fishing industry was approaching its zenith. (fn. 48) To avoid the detour through Stratford and Ilford, New Road (as it continued to be called at least until the 1870's) (fn. 49) ran through Plaistow and East Ham, along Wallend, and over Back River and the Roding into North Street, Barking. Before the construction of New Road (now Barking Road and London Road) the only approaches to Barking town from the west had been by foot- and bridle-paths. (fn. 50) In 1937 a short eastward extension was built to London Road, linking it directly with Ripple Road. (fn. 51)

A third road running east-west through the parish, which from early times was of more than local importance, was Green Lane or Green Street, which is recorded from 1339, and may have been much older even than this. (fn. 52) It ran from Hornchurch through Becontree Heath (in Dagenham) to Ilford village, and originally joined Barking Lane just south of the main Colchester Road. The western end of Green Lane was diverted to its present course at the beginning of the 19th century. In 1814 John Thompson, then consolidating his Clements estate, (fn. 53) was authorized by the manor court to inclose the section of the lane lying between his mansion and his farmhouse, and in the following year he obtained a Quarter Sessions order diverting the lane north into High Road across another piece of his own land. (fn. 54) The new length of road is the part of Green Lane north of Sunnyside Road. In 1826 this diversion was challenged by a group of local inhabitants who are said to have tried to throw open the inclosed lane by force: they were opposed by Thompson's brickfield workers, and the proclamation embodied in the Riot Act had to be read. The issue was taken to the Essex Assizes and later to the King's Bench, where both the inclosure and the diversion were found to have been illegal, the latter on a technicality. (fn. 55) In 1827 Thompson was forced to obtain two fresh diversion orders — unsuccessfully opposed by the parish vestry and others — to legalize his position. (fn. 56) This dispute over Green Lane, 12 years after its original diversion, was perhaps a product of the wider struggle then raging over the separation of Ilford from Barking. (fn. 57) Most of Thompson's opponents were from the Barking area of the parish, and his supporters from Ilford.

From medieval records, and especially the 1456 rental of Barking manor, (fn. 58) it is clear that by the 15th century there was a well-developed network of local roads in the parish. One important road of ancient origin ran from Barking town north-east to Becontree Heath, crossing the Mayes Brook at Longbridge. Its western portion (now Longbridge Road) occurs in 1609 as Smallwell Lane. The eastern portion is Wood Lane (1563). (fn. 59) The road running north from Longbridge, now Goodmayes Lane, occurs in 1456 as Goodmaistrete. (fn. 60) Its continuation, north of High Road, to Little Heath (1369), is Barley Lane (1609), which may be a corruption of Berdelovestrete (1456). (fn. 61) Gale Street (1433) (fn. 62) ran from Ripple Street north to Wood Lane.

In the 18th century the principal road running north from Ilford village was Ley Street (1456), (fn. 63) continued as Horns Road, a name probably derived from Richard Horne (1547), leading to Barkingside and Aldborough Hatch. Cranbrook Lane (fn. 64) now Cranbrook Road, ran from the village north, past Valentines to Wanstead and Woodford.

After the disafforestation of Hainault in the 1850's new roads were made in the former forest area, of which the most important were Forest Road and Hainault Road. (fn. 65) The next major highway development took place in the 1920's under the government scheme described on another page. (fn. 66) The East Ham and Barking By-pass, to the south of Barking town, was part of an improved road from London to Purfleet. Eastern Avenue, north Ilford, was part of a new road from London to Southend. Woodford Avenue, which joins Eastern Avenue at Gants Hill, provided an additional link with the North Circular Road round London.

Until the beginning of the present century the main road from London entered Ilford by two bridges, a small (western) one over the Aldersbrook and a larger (eastern) one over the main stream of the Roding. These were usually called 'Ilford Bridges', but 'Ilford Bridge', which normally means the larger bridge, sometimes refers to both bridges, including the short causeway between them. 'The bridge at Ilford' is mentioned in 1321. (fn. 67) A drawing of the larger bridge, made before it was rebuilt in the 18th century, shows three pointed arches, probably of the 13th century. (fn. 68) Before the Dissolution the bridges were maintained by a hermit living in Back (now Roden) Street, who collected alms for the purpose. (fn. 69) By the 1580's the bad condition of the 'two stone bridges' was causing such concern that the Privy Council intervened, urging Quarter Sessions to repair them, and the City of London to contribute towards the cost. (fn. 70) From the early 17th century, if not before, Quarter Sessions accepted permanent responsibility for the bridges and the causeway, and there are many records of repair. (fn. 71) In 1759–64 the larger bridge was rebuilt in brick. (fn. 72) This 18th-century bridge was replaced in 1904 by the present one, of steel, brick, and concrete. (fn. 73) The smaller (western) bridge was described in 1858 as 'an ancient iron structure'. (fn. 74) After the rebuilding of the large bridge in 1904, the Aldersbrook was diverted to join the Roding 100 yds. north of this new bridge, thus making it possible to remove the smaller bridge and to occlude the stream bed, the former course of which is shown by the borough boundary. (fn. 75)

Until the construction of the New Road about 1810 there were only foot- or horse-bridges over the Roding and its branches at Barking town. Hamthrough Bridge, spanning Back River at Wallend, had existed as a footbridge before 1447, when it was said to have been destroyed by James Hacche of Barking and others to make a way (presumably by a ford) for horses and carts. (fn. 76) It was subsequently rebuilt, and in 1606 the Barking end of it, then needing repair, was said to be the responsibility of Thomas Carter, as owner of the land adjoining the bridge. (fn. 77) As 'Handtroft' Bridge it appears on the map of 1777. (fn. 78) When the New Road was built three new brick bridges were constructed to carry it into Barking: West Bridge, or Back River Bridge; Middle Bridge, or Roding Bridge; and East Bridge or Hawkins River Bridge. Hamthrough Bridge was demolished. (fn. 79) The three Barking bridges were built by the highway trustees, who maintained them until the dissolution of the trust in 1871; (fn. 80) they were then taken over by the county, which in 1904 rebuilt Roding Bridge. (fn. 81) The occlusion of Back River and Hawkins River has rendered the other two bridges superfluous, and only the parapets of Back River Bridge can now (1964) be seen.

Loxford Bridge, by which Ilford Lane crosses Loxford Water, existed in 1456. (fn. 82) In the late 16th and early 17th centuries responsibility for its repair was disputed between the parish vestry and the Pownsetts of Loxford Hall. (fn. 83) From about 1630 the vestry seems to have maintained the bridge, with occasional subsidies between 1699 and 1724 paid by Quarter Sessions. The bridge was rebuilt in 1736–7, when Crisp Gascoyne, then one of the parish surveyors, paid half the cost. Major repairs were carried out in 1824. In 1875–9 the vestry unsuccessfully attempted to force Quarter Sessions to take over the bridge.

Red Bridge, which spans the Roding between Ilford and Wanstead, was formerly known as Hockley's Bridge (1650), a name derived from a medieval tenement and family. (fn. 84) Until the end of the 19th century it seems to have been maintained by the owners of the adjoining lands, though in 1754–6 an attempt was made to force Barking vestry to accept partial responsibility. (fn. 85) It was rebuilt in 1925 to carry Eastern Avenue; the previous structure had been built about 1840. (fn. 86)

The town wharf or quay, which lies at the head of Barking Creek, was held during the Middle Ages by the abbey and at the Dissolution passed to the Crown. It was reported in 1601 that it had been much used by boats carrying provisions to the abbey, and corn and meal to and from the adjoining watermills. The abbess had maintained the wharf and had had two flights of stairs there, for use when she travelled by the Thames. The wharf had also been used by fishermen, for taking hay and reeds from the marshes, for landing cattle to feed there, and for the shipment of provisions to the queen's manor of Greenwich and to the City of London. At the time the report was made the wharf was in need of repair: the ground there was eroded for 220 ft., and the watermills were in danger of being undermined; ruined piles had caused damage to fishing boats and many deaths by drowning; it was estimated that repairs would cost £100. (fn. 87)

In 1609 the wharf, probably by this time repaired, was on lease to the Corporation of London. (fn. 88) It subsequently passed with the manor of Barking, presumably in 1628, (fn. 89) to Sir Thomas Fanshawe, who was presented at Quarter Sessions in 1656 and 1658 for failing to repair it. (fn. 90) In 1666 the court leet drew up a list of tolls and wharfage rates, which seems to indicate that the wharf was still a manorial appurtenance. (fn. 91) By 1684, however, Quarter Sessions were directing the parish to set a rate for the maintenance of the wharf, so that by that time the vestry seems to have been in effective control. (fn. 92) It was they who granted a lease of the wharf in 1697, (fn. 93) and they continued to farm it for about 15 years. (fn. 94) The responsibility for management was transferred to the directors of the poor by the Act of 1786 creating that body (fn. 95) and they were in effective charge by 1790. (fn. 96) The directors changed their title to that of directors of the wharf in 1853 (fn. 97) but little is known of their activities after 1854. (fn. 98) In the 1870's and 1880's some of their functions seem to have been discharged by the parish overseers. (fn. 99) By the Act of 1888 separating Barking and Ilford the two parishes became jointly responsible for upkeep, each appointing three wharf conservators. (fn. 100) By a further Act of 1893 Ilford was relieved of its responsibility (fn. 101) which was thereby vested in the Barking local board, to which the urban district council and borough council have succeeded.

With the growth of market gardening (fn. 102) during the 19th century the wharf was increasingly used by manure barges. In 1851 there was an outcry against this traffic and especially against the carriage of muck through the streets by day. The directors, after receiving a public petition, issued new regulations forbidding the landing of nightsoil and restricting the hours during which other kinds of manure might be landed. (fn. 103) A magistrates' order was also obtained to strengthen these regulations, and the directors employed a man to inspect manure cargoes. (fn. 104) The removal of the Barking fishing industry in the later 19th century, and the growth of motor transport, have caused a great decline in traffic at the wharf. (fn. 105)

From the earlier 18th century the parish had relatively good communications with the outside world. In 1740 there was a daily coach service from London to Ilford and Barking, (fn. 106) and in 1768 there were two daily coaches to Ilford, and two others to Barking, which must also have called at Ilford. (fn. 107) Ilford, because of its main road position, also benefited from long-distance services: by 1832 there were coaches passing through the village every half hour. (fn. 108) Carriers' wagons, to and from London, are mentioned in directories from 1770. (fn. 109) Water transport was probably used mainly for commercial purposes. In 1798 vessels for Barking left Dyce and Smart's quay, near Billingsgate, (fn. 110) and in 1823 the Customs House and Wool quays; (fn. 111) those for Ilford left St. Catharine's.

The first railway through the parish was the Eastern Counties main line from London to Romford, opened in 1839, with a station at Ilford, extended to Brentwood in 1840 and to Colchester in 1843. (fn. 112) In 1894–8 Ilford station was rebuilt under guarantees given to the Great Eastern Railway Co. by A. Cameron Corbett, later Lord Rowallan, who was then developing the Grange housing estate. (fn. 113) Corbett gave similar guarantees to promote the building of two new stations farther east, at Seven Kings (opened 1899) and Goodmayes (1901), to serve his housing estates there. (fn. 114)

The growth of Ilford in the 1890's also caused the G.E.R. to build the 'Fairlop loop', linking its main line, at Seven Kings, with its Ongar branch, at Woodford. The loop, opened in 1903, provided an alternative route between Ilford and London. There were six intermediate stations, of which four were in Ilford: Hainault, Fairlop, Barkingside, and Newbury Park. (fn. 115) It was hoped — prematurely, as it proved — that the loop would stimulate further development in the area. When north Ilford did at last expand rapidly, in the 1930's, it was decided that the loop should become part of an extended Central London (underground) line. This scheme, delayed by the war, was completed in 1947–8. The Central Line was extended from Liverpool Street through Stratford and Leytonstone to Newbury Park, with new stations, in Ilford, at Redbridge and Gants Hill. North of Newbury Park the loop was electrified. The section between Newbury Park and Seven Kings was closed. (fn. 116) The electrification of the main line through Ilford to Shenfield, also put in hand shortly before the Second World War, was completed in 1949. (fn. 117)

In the south of the ancient parish the earliest railway was the London, Tilbury, and Southend line, opened as far as Tilbury, with a station at Barking, in 1854, and extended to Southend in 1856. (fn. 118) Trains ran from Bishopsgate (Eastern Counties Railway) or Fenchurch Street (London and Blackwall Railway) over existing lines as far as Forest Gate, where the new line started, running through Barking town, and east across the marshes. In 1858 a cut-off was opened between Bow and Barking; from this time L.T.S. trains ceased using the Eastern Counties main line, the E.C.R. itself maintaining a service to Barking via Forest Gate. In 1885–8 the L.T.S. built a new line from Barking to Pitsea, providing a shorter route to Southend. Barking station was rebuilt in 1889. In 1894 the L.T.S. lines and those of the Midland Railway were connected by the Tottenham and Forest Gate Railway, making it possible to run through trains from St. Pancras to Southend. From this time the Midland began to take a strong interest in the L.T.S. and in 1911 took over that company. In 1902 the District (underground) line was extended from Whitechapel to join the L.T.S. line, and District trains then began to run to Barking and Upminster. The electrification of the District line in 1905 caused the temporary withdrawal of this service, (fn. 119) but in 1908, after the further reconstruction of Barking station, it was resumed as far as Barking. (fn. 120) When a through service from Ealing to Southend was opened in 1910, Barking was the station where the trains changed from electric to steam traction. Barking station was again reconstructed in the late 1950's, and a new combined booking hall in Longbridge Road was opened in 1961. (fn. 121)

The building of the Becontree estate in the 1920's placed a great strain on local transport. (fn. 122) The train services to Barking were the best in the area, and for a short time it was one of the busiest passenger stations in England. In 1932 the District line's electric services were extended to Upminster, with new stations in Barking at Upney and at Becontree. The second of these had been opened in 1926 as Gale Street halt.

Ilford U.D.C. opened a tramway system in 1903, (fn. 123) with services from the Broadway to Barking, Barkingside, and Seven Kings. (fn. 124) In the same year Barking U.D.C. opened a tramway to Beckton, and in 1904–5 others from Ripple Road to the East Ham boundary, and from Longbridge Road to Loxford Bridge. In 1929 Barking ceased to operate its own tramways, having leased them to the councils of Ilford and East Ham. Both the Ilford and Barking systems were taken over in 1933 by the London Passenger Transport Board. Trolley buses, which replaced trams on the Ilford and Barking local routes in 1938, (fn. 125) were themselves replaced in the late 1950's by motor buses. Some earlier bus services have been described above. (fn. 126)

There were postal receiving offices at Ilford and Barking in the 1790's: Ilford was by 1798 or earlier serving a local penny post district. (fn. 127) By 1848 there was also a receiving office at Chadwell Street. (fn. 128) In 1863 the Ilford office was in the High Road and the Barking office in the Broadway. (fn. 129) Under a reorganization scheme of 1867 Ilford and Barking became head post offices. (fn. 130) A telegraph service was opened at Barking in 1870 and at Ilford in 1871. (fn. 131) A receiving office was opened at Barkingside by 1863, (fn. 132) and others at Horns (Newbury Park) in 1883, (fn. 133) East Street, Barking, in 1890, (fn. 134) and Tanner Street, Barking, in 1891. (fn. 135) By 1906 there were 17 sub-postoffices in Ilford and 3 in Barking. (fn. 136)

Most of the notable persons in Barking before the 16th century were connected with the abbey. Among the abbesses were three saints, three queens, two princesses, and women of several prominent families. (fn. 137) William the Conqueror stayed at Barking while the Tower of London was being built, and there received the submission of many English nobles. After the Dissolution many of the landowners in the parish were London merchants, and several of these became lord mayors of the City. (fn. 138) One of the most important merchants associated with Barking was William Pownsett (d. 1554), of Loxford, a grazier. (fn. 139) Barking's proximity to London also made it a convenient place of residence for politicians and government officials, like the Fanshawes of Jenkins. (fn. 140) The vicarage of Barking, since the 16th century, has been an important living, in the gift of All Souls College, Oxford, and for a number of vicars, especially during the past century, it has been a stepping-stone to high office in the church. (fn. 141) Among religious leaders, however, few can have had a greater local influence, at any period, than Charles H. Vine (1865–1930), minister of the High Road Congregational Church, Ilford, from 1896 to 1930. (fn. 142) The parish officers, from 1694 onwards, have been listed in print. (fn. 143) Prominent among them have been members of the Glenny family. (fn. 144)

Smart Lethieullier (1701–60), a distinguished antiquary who was also lord of the manor of Barking, compiled a manuscript history of the parish which was used by Lysons in his Environs of London and has recently come to light again. (fn. 145) In the later 19th century Edward Sage and his son, Edward J. Sage, successively deputy stewards of the manor, made a large collection of materials for the history of Barking. (fn. 146) Another local historian was Edward Tuck (1819–1907), master of the schools at Barkingside (1842–9) and at Ilford (1849–97). (fn. 147)

The development of modern Ilford was influenced by the vigorous leadership of several persons. The movement leading to the creation of the ecclesiastical parish of Ilford was headed by R. W. Hall Dare of Cranbrook. (fn. 148) The great expansion of the town between 1880 and 1910 was brought about largely by Archibald Cameron Corbett (1856–1933), later first Lord Rowallan, who built several large housing estates. (fn. 149) Another prominent builder of that period was (Sir) Peter Griggs (1853–1920). Unlike Corbett he was a local man, who served on the urban district council and the county council, as a magistrate, and as M.P. for Ilford. (fn. 150) Henry Weeden, chairman of the U.D.C. in 1900–1, and Benjamin Bailey, chairman 1901–2, were responsible for important decisions on the future of the town's public services. (fn. 151)

Among others connected with the parish were Dr. Thomas Barnardo (1845–1905), who founded one of his largest homes for children at Barkingside, (fn. 152) Daniel Day (1683–1767), founder of Fairlop Fair, (fn. 153) Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832), who lived at Barking as a boy, (fn. 154) and Captain James Cook, the explorer (1728–79), who was married at Barking. (fn. 155)

Several friendly societies at Barking and Ilford were registered between 1795 and 1801, (fn. 156) but nothing further is known about them. Societies of Foresters and Shepherds existed at both Ilford and Barking in the late 19th century, and at Barking during the same period there were also Oddfellows and Loyal United Friends. (fn. 157)

At Barking a Savings Bank, formed in 1818, survived until about 1886. (fn. 158) A Mutual Improvement Society, which existed there in 1864, provided entertainments and a library. (fn. 159) An Amicable Association, mentioned in 1866, consisted of leading tradesmen, who discussed grievances and the general improvement of the town. (fn. 160) In 1959 there were over 150 voluntary organizations in Barking, catering for interests as diverse as cage-birds, weight-lifting, amateur dramatics, and underwater swimming. (fn. 161)

At Ilford a society of archers, called the Hainault Foresters, founded about 1770, held their meetings on Fairlop Plain. The posts used for roping in their ground were still standing early in the 19th century. (fn. 162) In 1858 Eleanor Thompson of Clements built a reading room behind the infants school in High Road. (fn. 163) This was for many years run by Edward Tuck, master of the National school, who organized evening classes, entertainments, and a drum and fife band there. (fn. 164) The reading room was also, for a short time, about 1863, the headquarters of a mechanics' institute. (fn. 165) In 1954 it was sold by Barking and Ilford United Charities to become the Little Theatre. (fn. 166) A drill hall, built behind the reading room in 1872, also the gift of Eleanor Thompson, was for some years the headquarters of the 1st Volunteer Battalion, Essex Regiment. The drill ground and club house were given by H. W. Bertie, Vicar of Ilford. (fn. 167) It is now (1964) a young people's club and roller-skating rink. The Ilford Conservative (or Constitutional) Club, Ilford Hill, was formed about 1881, and in 1901 was using the building formerly the parsonage house attached to the hospital. (fn. 168) Ilford Savings Bank existed for some years in the later 19th century, probably in connexion with that of Barking, since it had the same actuary, Charles Mumford. (fn. 169)

The expansion of Ilford at the end of the 19th century is reflected in the increasing number of voluntary organizations. By 1896 there were clubs for cricket, football, swimming, cycling, bowling, a Choral Society, a Philanthropic Society, a Vocal and Orchestral Union, and a branch of the Y.M.C.A. (fn. 170) In 1960 there were over 500 societies in the borough, including those connected with churches but excluding churches as such. (fn. 171)


  • 1. O.S. Map 2½", sheets TQ 48 and 49.
  • 2. O.S. Map 6", Essex LXXIII, LXXIV (surv. 1862–7).
  • 3. East Ham, Barking Town, and Ilford Order, 1907.
  • 4. Barking Corporation Act, 23 & 24 Geo. V, c. 68 (local act).
  • 5. Census, 1961.
  • 6. Census, 1961. Under the London Government Act, 1963, c. 33, most of Barking becomes part of the London Borough of Barking, while a small portion is merged in that of Newham. Ilford becomes part of the London Borough of Redbridge.
  • 7. Oxley, Barking Vestry, 87–89; cf. Barking Par. Ch., Vicar's tithe map, c. 1750; ibid. 'Evidence re disputed boundary at Longwall' [1795–6].
  • 8. P.N. Essex (E.P.N.S.), 10–11, 97.
  • 9. Ibid. 94.
  • 10. S.C. 6/964 [item 205 in D.P.L. transcript]; Barking Par. Ch., Vicar's tithe map and bk. c. 1750, parcels 1375, 1376.
  • 11. Wanstead is reserved for treatment in a later volume.
  • 12. See p. 239.
  • 13. D.P.L., MS. Bk. 'Hospitale de Ilford', f. 42 (rental of 1401).
  • 14. P.N. Essex (E.P.N.S.), 6.
  • 15. H. Smith, Eccl. Hist. Essex, 251.
  • 16. P.N. Essex, 98.
  • 17. Trans. Barking Arch. Soc. 1936, p. 25.
  • 18. P.N. Essex, 100.
  • 19. Barking Par. Ch., Vicar's tithe map, c. 1750; E.R.O., Map of Wm. Lockey's Aldborough Hatch estate, c. 1725.
  • 20. For tanning see p. 254.
  • 21. Trans. Barking Arch. Soc. 1936, p. 13; cf. 19, 20.
  • 22. P.N. Essex, 8, 99.
  • 23. Ibid. 99.
  • 24. Barking Par. Ch., Vicar's tithe map, c. 1750; John Ogilby, Map of the road from London to Harwich, 1675.
  • 25. O'Leary, Dagenham P.N. 67–68.
  • 26. Trans. Barking Arch. Soc. 1936, p. 34; L.R. 2/214 [items 254, 522 in D.P.L. transcript]; inf. from Mr. H. H. Lockwood.
  • 27. For Jenkins or Dagenhams see p. 199.
  • 28. P.N. Essex, 90; cf. Barking Par. Ch., Vicar's tithe map, c. 1750: 'East May Brooks' and 'West Maybrooks'.
  • 29. Colchester Museum, 2201.11; 3124.14; 3393.16; 3409.16; 2200.19; 4880.24.
  • 30. See below, p. 251.
  • 31. V.C.H. Essex, iii. 46–47, 149.
  • 32. Ibid. 149.
  • 33. E. Ekwall, Oxford Dict. P.N. (4th edn., 1960), 26: 'The early forms rule out derivation from OE beorc "birch", but the name was later associated with the word'.
  • 34. Cf. P.N. Essex, p. xx.
  • 35. V.C.H. Essex, ii. 115–25; E. A. Loftus and H. F. Chettle, Hist. Barking Abbey (1954); C. Hart, Early Charters of Barking Abbey (1953).
  • 36. V.C.H. Essex, i. 448.
  • 37. For early settlement see also p. 215.
  • 38. E.R.O., Q/RTh 5.
  • 39. Lysons, London, iv. 100.
  • 40. Made by the author of the art., who is indebted to Mr. R. Galley for help in counting the baptisms. See also Oxley, Barking Vestry, 6–7.
  • 41. For population figures see above pp. 5, 64. For further details of urban development see below pp. 235, 249.
  • 42. See pl. f.p. 186.
  • 43. See p. 289.
  • 44. V.C.H. Essex, iii. 24–25.
  • 45. E.g. J. Norden, Map of Essex, 1594.
  • 46. Middlesex and Essex Highways Act, 8 Geo. I, c. 30; J. Mynde, Map of Middx. and Essex Turnpike Rds. 1728.
  • 47. Trans. Barking Arch. Soc. 1937, pp. 19, 21, 22; P.N. Essex, 89.
  • 48. Lysons, London (Suppl.) (1811), 339–40; E.R.O., Q/RUm 1/11; E.R.O., D/DL 035.
  • 49. Inf. from the late F. J. Brand.
  • 50. A. Stokes, East Ham, 124–5.
  • 51. Inf. from Town Clerk of Barking.
  • 52. O'Leary, Dagenham P.N. 43.
  • 53. See p. 197.
  • 54. E.R.O., D/DB 322; E.R.O., D/DSa 59; E.R.O., Q/RHi 3/79; K.B. 1/50/110 East.
  • 55. E. Tuck, Barking and Ilford, 62–63; Assizes 31/25 and 32/8; K.B. 1/50/110 East; K.B. 28/499; E.R.O., D/DB 322.
  • 56. E.R.O., Q/RHi 4/62 and 63; Oxley, Barking Vestry, 165–8.
  • 57. See p. 257.
  • 58. Trans. Barking Arch. Soc. 1936 and 1937; P.N. Essex, 88–91, 97–101.
  • 59. O'Leary, Dagenham P.N. 99.
  • 60. Trans. Barking Arch. Soc. 1936, pp. 35–36; P.N. Essex, 99.
  • 61. Trans. Barking Arch. Soc. 1936, p. 31.
  • 62. O'Leary, Dagenham P.N. 40.
  • 63. Trans. Barking Arch. Soc. 1936, pp. 16, 25.
  • 64. Lysons, London, iv. 100 n.
  • 65. See p. 290.
  • 66. See p. 74
  • 67. S.C. 6/849/11.
  • 68. See pl. f.p. 234.
  • 69. E.R.O., Q/SR 91/16; ibid. Sage Coll. no. 277; ibid. T/P 93/4, unpag. section near end (Hospital Rental, 1560).
  • 70. E.R.O., Q/SR 91/16; Cal. S.P. Dom. 1581–90, 310.
  • 71. E.R.O., Q/CP 3 (index).
  • 72. E.R.O., Q/SO 10, ff. 9, 233, 253, 381; ibid. 11, ff. 17, 34.
  • 73. E.R. xiii. 249; inscription on bridge. For a photograph of the 18th-century bridge see E.R. vii. 108.
  • 74. E.R.O., Q/ABz 3.
  • 75. Inf. from Mr. Faulkner, 1039 Romford Rd., Manor Park; O.S. Map 6", Essex, TQ 48 NW (1951 edn.).
  • 76. Cal. Pat. 1446–52, 136.
  • 77. E.R.O., Q/CP 2.
  • 78. See pl. f.p. 186.
  • 79. E.R.O., Q/ABz 3; Tilbury Fort Turnpike Act, 49 Geo. III, c. 172 (local and personal act).
  • 80. E.R.O., Q/ABz 3.
  • 81. E.R. xiv. 48.
  • 82. Trans. Barking Arch. Soc. 1936, p. 15.
  • 83. For this bridge see: E.R.O., Q/CP 2 and 3; E.R.O., Q ABp 57; Oxley, Barking Vestry, 159–60.
  • 84. P.N. Essex, 99.
  • 85. G. E. Tasker, Ilford, 53, 114; Oxley, Barking Vestry, 160.
  • 86. Ilford Official Handbk. 1958, p. 22; Tasker, Ilford, 53; E.R. viii. 114 (illus.).
  • 87. Trans. Barking Arch. Soc. i (1), 11–14; E.R. lix. 123.
  • 88. E.R. lix. 130.
  • 89. See p. 192.
  • 90. E.R.O., Q/CP 3, ff. 181, 189.
  • 91. Oxley, Barking Vestry, 135–6.
  • 92. E.R.O., Q/CP 3, f. 366.
  • 93. Oxley, Barking Vestry, 135.
  • 94. There is no reference to farming after 1713 when the vestry were unsuccessfully looking for a tenant: ibid. 136.
  • 95. See p. 219.
  • 96. Oxley, Vestry, 228–9.
  • 97. Ibid. 215.
  • 98. Ibid. 206.
  • 99. Ibid.
  • 100. Ibid. 139.
  • 101. Ibid. 140; 56 & 57 Vict. c. 63 (local act).
  • 102. See p. 216.
  • 103. Oxley, Vestry, 266.
  • 104. Ibid. 267–8.
  • 105. For the wharf in 1832 see pl. f.p. 234.
  • 106. Complete Guide to … London, 1740, pp. 70, 80.
  • 107. Baldwin's New Complete Guide, 1768, pp. 196, 215.
  • 108. Pigot's Lond. and Prov. Dir. 1832.
  • 109. Baldwin's New Complete Guide, 1770, p. 216.
  • 110. Kent's Dir. 1798.
  • 111. Pigot's Lond. and Prov. Dir. 1823.
  • 112. E. Carter, Hist. Geog. Brit. Rlys. 63.
  • 113. E.R.O., D/DB 330; Tasker, Ilford, 40; for the Grange estate see below p. 210.
  • 114. E.R.O., D/DB 337; Tasker, Ilford, 41.
  • 115. E.R. xii. 165; Rly. Mag. xii. 479.
  • 116. Rly. Gaz. 19 Dec. 1947, p. 699; ibid. 31 May 1948, 627; Rly. Mag. xciv. 61; E. Carter, Hist. Geog. Brit. Rlys. 531.
  • 117. Rly. Gaz. 30 Sept. 1949, p. 389; Rly. Mag. xcv. 268.
  • 118. H. D. Welch, London, Tilbury and Southend Rly. 2 f., on which the following account of the L.T. and S. is based.
  • 119. Inf. from Pub. Relations Officer, London Transport.
  • 120. For the reconstruction see Rly. Mag. xxii. 353.
  • 121. Tablet in booking hall.
  • 122. Cf. T. Young, Becontree and Dagenham, 44, 60, 76, 134–41.
  • 123. Ilford Intelligencer, 1939, p. 80.
  • 124. See pl. f.p. 249.
  • 125. V. Sommerfield, London Transport, 60–68.
  • 126. See pp. 28, 73.
  • 127. G.P.O., P.M.G. Reps. viii (1794), 165; xx (1798), 65; xl (1825), 272.
  • 128. White's Dir. Essex, 1848.
  • 129. Ibid. 1863.
  • 130. G.P.O., P.M.G. Mins. vol. 61, no. 4448.
  • 131. Ibid. vol. 89, no. 5807; vol. 98, no. 6345.
  • 132. White's Dir. Essex, 1863.
  • 133. G.P.O., P.M.G. Mins. vol. 242, no. 977.
  • 134. Ibid. vol. 401, no. 433.
  • 135. Ibid. vol. 446, no. 13777.
  • 136. Kelly's Dir. Essex, 1906.
  • 137. For the list of abbesses see V.C.H. Essex, ii. 120–1.
  • 138. For a list, not entirely correct, of lord mayors with seats in Barking, 1485–1760, see E.R.O., Sage Coll., Hist. Barking &c. vol. i, f. 44.
  • 139. See pp. 206, 216.
  • 140. See p. 200; cf. H. C. Fanshawe, Hist. Fanshawe fam. 232 f.
  • 141. See p. 225–6.
  • 142. See p. 261.
  • 143. Oxley, Barking Vestry, 317 f.
  • 144. Ibid. 42.
  • 145. E.R.O., T/P 93 [microfilm].
  • 146. E.R.O., Sage Collection.
  • 147. G. Caunt, Ilford's Yesterdays, 87.
  • 148. See p. 257.
  • 149. See p. 250–51.
  • 150. E.R. xxix. 211; Tasker, Ilford, 51; G. Caunt, Ilford's Yesterdays, 85.
  • 151. G. E. Tasker, Ilford, 49–50, 44–45; G. Caunt, Ilford's Yesterdays, 82.
  • 152. See p. 252.
  • 153. See p. 218.
  • 154. D.N.B.
  • 155. Ibid. For other Barking 'worthies' see V.C.H. Essex, Bibliography, 149, 235.
  • 156. E.R.O., Q/RSf 2.
  • 157. Essex Almanac, 1863 and later edns. to 1896.
  • 158. Barking Borough Recs., Min. Bk. of Savings Bank, 1818–43; White's Dir. Essex, 1848, p. 216; Kelly's Dir. Essex, 1886; cf. 1890.
  • 159. Essex Almanac, 1864, p. 83.
  • 160. Ibid. 1866. p. 92.
  • 161. Borough of Barking Dir. 1959 pp. 45–47. The list includes some trade union branches, political clubs, and local branches of national organizations; with three or four exceptions it omits religious organizations.
  • 162. E.R.O., Sage Coll., Hist. Barking &c. i, ff. 15–16.
  • 163. Tasker, Ilford, 25; Char. Com. File 65829; see pl. f.p. 228.
  • 164. Tuck, Barking and Ilford, vii; Tasker, Ilford, 25–26.
  • 165. V.C.H. Essex, Bibliography, 320.
  • 166. Inf. from Mr. K. Glenny, Clerk of the Charity Trustees.
  • 167. Tasker, Ilford, 26; Kelly's Dir. Essex, 1882–94 edns.
  • 168. Tasker, Ilford, 26.
  • 169. Essex Almanac, 1864, p. 90; Kelly's Dir. Essex, 1886.
  • 170. Essex Almanac, 1896, pp. 196–7.
  • 171. Ilford Official Handbk. 1958–9, pp. 129–61.