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Overground TfL Other Services

#81: Barking Riverside – 10/03/2020

Regenerating a landscape on an industrial scale…This is my final of three bonus ‘end of the line’ stations that have yet to be built or commissioned, and brings to a close my first series of travel blogs around London….phew!

The Station

In 2014 the Chancellor announced, in his budget, that the Overground line would be extended to Barking Riverside. This was in preference to previous plans to extend the Docklands Light Railway; and works began in 2017 to construct this station which is currently scheduled for completion in December 2021.

But first, my thanks to another travel blog by Ian Visits, who wrote recently about the station’s progress, challenges, and included current pictures of the building site. So I don’t need to repeat things here, so please visit this site for the details.

The only picture I’ll add to the mix is this one, which is literally the end of the line! I know…it’s a concrete wall…but it is the end of the construction site that forms the raised station of what will be the Overground stop….that is if/or until the line is further extended across the Thames to Thamsemead as is currently planned – although there is no date set for when this will happen.

Barking Riverside London (BRL)

This scheme will bring together nearly 11,000 homes to a former marsh land and brownfield site once occupied by the Barking power stations. The land was sold off to developers in the late 20th Century and the site is currently being developed by the L&Q Group.

As with all developments, L&Q are building in phases and the first to be open for occupation is an area named Parklands (see Picture of the Day below). But the infrastructure for other parts are well evidenced even though not yet accessible.

But buyer beware, remember that the developer’s marketing material is full of impressive images of how the place will look; but go take a look yourselves, it’s still very much a building site and will be for years to come. Nevertheless the long term vision is impressive.

The development includes an exciting waste disposal system where waste will be deposited through surface mounted waste collection centres. These will chanel the waste underground via an automated Envac system: ingenious in its design.

Whilst roaming around by some of the properties being fitted out, I chatted with a couple of carpet fitters who were in the midst of carpeting an entire block that day. One explained the history of the area and remarked about how, during the Second World War, the area was heavily bombed, and jokingly remarked how he hoped that all the unexploded bombs had been identified and removed. I have no doubt that this has been done.

Walking past the BRL project office, which sits beside the Thames with a commanding view of the river, I come to Footpath 47. This is a short riverside footpath that runs along the river bank and connects with Choats Road along The Gores. In case you’re planning to walk the path, there are, thankfully, helpful warning signs on what to do in the event you spot anyone in distress in the river or in the mud.

The river, as ever, is busy with passing ships, but what attracts my attention is the derelict pier and mooring point which I suspect are a legacy of the days when coal was once delivered to the nearby power stations. 

There’s also one unexplained waterside marking which I’m struggling to identify. My early thought is that it’s a navigation aid, but not one I can readily identify. I wonder if it’s a high tide water mark, and if so it doesn’t bode well for the new development?

As part of the BRL’s project office site, there’s a ‘nod’ to wildlife conservation with the creation of a small water feature and bug house. Sadly, not well maintained and now looking a little tired and lost, with no sign of any water borne or land based insects in residence. 

River Road

This is a loop road, joining with Renwick Road, from the A13 and comprises mostly of heavy and light industrial business where the road is potted with parked lorries and an unforgiving footpath. The road now also feeds the area into what is becoming Barking Riverside, where in contrast the road is more manicured and serviced.

The road reflects its home for electricity production/distribution sites, container storage centres and car dismantlers & spares outlets, and one of its notable occupants is the Dagenham Sunday Market. The market occupies an expanse of unused waste industrial land, and attracts visitors from far and wide, and despite being closed, its colourful Helter Skelter and other fun fair rides can be seen quite clearly from a distance.

My days visit can’t go unfinished without a reference to the industrial heritage of the area: that of the power stations, or more precisely the generation and distribution of electricity as the original electricity producing power stations closed many decades ago.

However the National Grid has a significant presence in the area with several high security fenced buildings nearby, and of course the ever present pylons carrying the power to/from their distribution centres.

…and finally…

… whilst strolling around the pond near the Rivergate Centre, I had a chance conversation with Jill, from the Swan Sanctuary. She had come to check on the pond’s water quality after a concern had been raised a few years previously that the conditions were unhealthy and not conducive to attracting wild fowl. The pond has since had a fountain installed which now helps with water aeration and reducing stagnation, but alas there were no swans to be seen today.

However a pair of Canada geese, ducks and coots were happy to take advantage of the feed being thrown at them and Jill explained their behaviour: that the males were letting the females eat first in preparation for their nesting and brooding days as mating season approaches.

Picture of the Day

For this my final Picture of the Day from this first series of travels, choosing a picture to remember the day had been a struggle. Mainly because the sky was dull and grey which tended to flatten the pictures I’m taking, and because the landscape I’ve walked through has been predominantly industrial. 

But nevertheless, today’s picture merges the old and new industries. The setting is that of the fast developing Barking Riverside housing development:  once a marshland and a brownfield site occupied by the Barking Power Station.

This is a view of the ‘almost complete’ Parklands development at the eastern end of Fielders Crescent (a new road) which I’m looking at in a westerly direction. The symmetry of the design and the harshness of the brickwork, which has now almost become the standard brick used across London for such developments (well that’s my opinion), lends itself to being taken in Black and White.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/640; Focal Length – 170mm; Film Speed – ISO1000; Google Photo Filter – Vista

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Categories
Overground TfL Other Services

#24: Barking – 09/10/2018

Barking is the end of the Overground line shuttling between Barking and Gospel Oak (see my very first blog), and shares its platforms with the District line and the c2c main line services running from the Essex coast into Fenchurch Street station. So a busy station with rare moments of tranquillity, and as ever like most city stations, overlooked by high rise housing and opening onto the high street

Historic Barking and its landmarks

Without realising it I found myself walking the path once trodden by William the Conqueror soon after his 1066 conquest as he took over the Abbey to the west of Barking. Now a ruin adjacent to St Margaret’s Parish Church, I found it quite eerie thinking how so different life would have been then.

To the north east, there’s an elaborate sculpture in the middle of one of Barking’s ring road roundabouts, entitled The Catch by Lorraine Leeson, created in homage to Barking’s historic fishing tradition. And in the centre of town, there’s a Folly brick wall which was built, so I was advised by Roy a local resident, by the local college bricklaying apprentices from recycled bricks from the demolished swimming pool and The Lamb pub. The Lamb now sitting proudly atop the Folly.

The Town Centre

The ‘town centre’ is a remodelled piazza of faux old and new, The Town Hall having been redeveloped in recent years alongside modern high rise colourfully clad buildings. Within a few steps of the Town Hall there’s the Library, Arts Centre and Leisure Centre. And close by, the sunlit Travelodge wasn’t too difficult to miss either.

The Market and its People

Barking has two lively shopping areas adjacent to each other: the Vicarage Fields shopping centre and the open air market that runs the length of Station Parade through to North Street where there’s one particular restaurant that cleverly captures your attention – especially if you like pink friesian cows; well done to Cristina’s – The Casual Steakhouse!

The market has an array of colourful stalls and traders offering fruit ‘n veg; the latest ‘fashion’, household items and fresh hot food.

I begin this journey by going into the Vicarage Fields centre from the station and within minutes I thought my journey wouldn’t go any further as I spy through the window of ‘Caffe Italiano’ a couple of gents playing chess with a gathering of onlookers; so I decide to go in and introduce myself asking permission to take their photos. They are all very amenable and I’m invited to play chess against ‘the best chess player in Barking’. This was all in good fun, but he was accompanied by one of the onlookers, but little did it matter to the outcome as I explained it had been over 20 years since I last played. Thankfully though I didn’t embarrass myself completely and the sequence of shots I took set me up nicely for the rest of the day.

The colours around the market are vibrant, accentuated by the late autumnal sun which shows everything off in glorious technicolor. As I’m looking around, I’m drawn to an intriguing sight; on first glance it’s a body-less child with an eerie smile, almost ‘Carrie’esq’; but on second viewing it’s a child dummy’s head wearing a hat. Nevertheless it had an engaging quality I felt compelled to capture.

The vision of the dummies heads caught my imagination and carrying on through the market, I stopped to admire a smaller stall with dummies heads adorned with different head gear and weaves. I introduce myself to the stall holder, Lola, and we have a short yet flirtatious conversation. Lola has an infectious smile as she explains the headgear has African origins. I compliment her on the display and ask if she names the dummies? We laugh…Meet Lola below as my ‘Picture of the Day’.

It was nice to meet you Lola.

I left Barking with one rather poignant and somewhat reflective memory, and a reminder that despite the civic’s intention to remember local citizens by naming streets after them, they can eventually fade into obscurity if the initial intention isn’t sustained. This reminder of Bobby Moore was almost hidden under the tree canopy and I felt a sense of regret that such a famous footballing hero had been relegated to a car park – come on Barking you can do better than that surely?

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Barking Riverside

The next and final part of my journey around Barking is a bit of a stretch of the imagination, but dear reader I make the rules here and the first rule is that there are NO rules.

I head off to Barking Riverside (or Creekmouth). The area is and continues to undergo massive regeneration but it is overshadowed by a massive power distribution centre and its dominant pylons where Barking power station once stood , Dagenham Sunday Market and a ship container store. Nevertheless the ambition is evident with extensive new build surrounding the area. The only obvious issue is that the location is so isolated, but I guess the developers have looked beyond that, but for now, the new Riverside Bridge School stands in its own grounds with no surrounding infrastructure or amenities; and the only way for children to attend is by car or by bus (the EL1 or EL3).

The housing development at the Rivergate Centre is modern and all the houses appear to be fitted with solar panels. The surrounding reed filled creeks are well landscaped and attractive walkways between blocks make access easy, but it doesn’t mask the fact it is isolated and quiet. Speaking with some residents, they balanced the isolation factor with attractive and modern accommodation. One local trader, who lived in the tower block above their shop declared, with upturned hands aloft…’what can you do?’

Thank you Barking for another interesting experience full of unexpected gifts…

Picture of the Day

This is Lola, a street market trader selling African inspired headwear. Lola has a captivating smile and a broad grin and is so easy to talk with. She’s happy for me to take pictures of her small stall and of her, and she quite likes the attention too which made capturing her personality quite easy.

I remind myself of some advice I was given as a child: when taking pictures of people and in particular their faces, to focus on the eyes. And you can see why here, as Lola smiles through her eyes and the rest of her face lights up.

This is a simple headshot; one of a series I took as I chatted with Lola and walked around her. Passers by looked curiously on, but neither Lola or I gave them a passing thought.

Thank you Lola for brightening up my visit to Barking.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 50mm; Film Speed – ISO1600; Google Photo Filter – Auto

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For more info, look up Barking on Wikipedia