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Dagenham is a suburban town in northeast Londonmarker, England, forming the eastern part of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenhammarker and located east of Charing Crossmarker. It was historically an agrarian village in the county of Essex and remained mostly undeveloped until 1921 when the London County Council began construction of the large Becontreemarker estate. The population of the area significantly increased during the 20th century, with the parish of Dagenham becoming an urban district in 1926 and a municipal borough in 1938. It has formed part of Greater Londonmarker since 1965 and is a predominantly residential area, with some areas of declining industrial activity. The population is set to rise as the southern part of Dagenham, adjacent to the River Thames, forms part of the London Riverside section of the Thames Gatewaymarker redevelopment area.


Dagenham (parish) population
1881 3,411
1891 4,324
1901 6,091
1911 7,930
1921 9,127
1931 89,362
1941 war #
1951 114,568
1961 108,368
# no census was held due to war
source: UK census


Dagenham as Dæccanhaam is first recorded in a charter of Barking Abbeymarker dating from 687 AD. The first ever area of Dagenham was almost certainly just a small farmstead, the ham or farm of a man called Daecca, as Dæccan means home of a man called Dæcca.

Economic development

In 1931 the Ford Motor Company relocated from Trafford Parkmarker, Manchestermarker, to Dagenham, which was already the location of supplier Briggs Motor Bodies. A 500 acre (2 km²) riverside site was developed to become Europe's largest car plant, a vast vertically integrated site with its own blast furnaces and power station, importing iron ore and exporting finished vehicles. By the 1950s Ford had taken over Briggs at Dagenham and its other sites at Doncastermarker, Southamptonmarker, Croydonmarker and Romfordmarker. At its peak the Dagenham plant had 4 million square feet (371600 m²) of floor space and employed 40,000. On February 20, 2002, full production was discontinued due to overcapacity in Europe and the relative difficulty of upgrading the 60 year old site compared with other European sites such as Almussafesmarker, Valenciamarker, Spain and Cologne. Other factors leading to the closure of the Auto-assembly line were the need of the site for the new Diesel Centre of Excellence, which produces half Ford's Diesel Engines worldwide and the UK employment laws when compared to Spanish, German and Belgian laws. Ford offered a good redundancy package, billed as one of the best in UK manufacturing. It is the location of the Dagenham wind turbinesmarker.

Sterling Ltd who were famous for manufacturing British Army weapons and Jaguar car parts were also based in Dagenham until they went bankrupt in 1988. Other industrial names once known world wide were Ever Ready, whose batteries could be found in shops throughout the Commonwealth, Bergers Paint and the chemical firm of May and Baker who in 1935 revolutionized the production of antibiotics with their synthetic sulfa-drug known as M&B693. The May and Baker plant, now owned and run by Sanofi-Aventis, occupies a large site near to Dagenham East station, and its sports and social club has large grounds between Eastbrookend Country Park and the railway.

Local government

Dagenham was an ancient, and later civil, parish in the Becontree hundred of Essex. The Metropolitan Police District was extended to include Dagenham in 1840. The parish formed part of the Romford Rural Districtmarker from 1894. The expansion of the Greater London conurbation into the area caused the review of local government structures and it was suggested in 1920 that the Dagenham parish should be abolished and its area divided between Ilford Urban Districtmarker and Barking Town Urban Districtmarker. Separately, the London County Council proposed that its area of responsibility should be expanded beyond the County of London to cover the area. Instead, in 1926 the Dagenham parish was removed from the Romford Rural District and became an urban district. In 1938, in further recognition of its development, Dagenham became a municipal borough. In 1965 the Municipal Borough of Dagenham was abolished and its former area became part of the London Borough of Barkingmarker, which is now known as Barking and Dagenham.

Market gardens to suburban estate

Dagenham parish church
In 1205 Dagenham was large enough to have a chaplain and the Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul was probably built at around that time. In 1854, a station was opened on the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway in the south of Dagenham, near the Thames, at Dagenham Dockmarker. In 1885 a new direct route from Barking to Pitsea, via Upminster, was built with a new station opened just north of the village. Dagenham was still an undeveloped village, when building of the vast Becontreemarker estate by the London County Council began in the early 1920s. The building of the enormous estate, which also spread into the neighbouring parishes of Ilfordmarker and Barkingmarker, caused a rapid increase in population. In 1932 the electrified District Line of the London Underground was extended to Upminstermarker through Dagenham with stations opened as Dagenham and Heathway and today called Dagenham Eastmarker and Dagenham Heathwaymarker. Dagenham East was the location of the Dagenham East rail crashmarker in 1958. Services on the London Tilbury & Southend line at Dagenham East were withdrawn in 1962.


The current MP for the Dagenham constituencymarker is Jon Cruddas. For elections to the London Assembly, Dagenham is in the City and East constituency.


Dagenham Dockmarker, to the south of Dagenham and adjacent to the River Thames, was once a large coaling port. The area now forms part of the London Riverside section of the Thames Gatewaymarker redevelopment zone. Major brownfield housing developments are forecast to increase the population by tens of thousands of people. The Roundhousemarker public house on the junction of Porters Avenue and Lodge Avenue became East London's premier rock music venue between 1969 and 1975. Incorporating the "Village Blues Club", some notable bands who performed at the pub were Jethro Tull, Supertramp, Queen, Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton, Status Quo, and Led Zeppelin (on 5 April 1969).


The area was predominantly white working class. At the last census in 2001, around 85% of the population was 'white', with 80% being classed as 'white - British'. The remaining 20% of the population comprised primarily other European nationalities (5%) Black (7%) and Asian (5%) populations. However recent immigration has transformed the area. It now has a large and growing black and multicultural population, including south Asian and Eastern European nationalities such as Albanians and many other ethnic groups.


There are London Underground services from Becontreemarker, Dagenham Eastmarker and Dagenham Heathwaymarker. c2c currently operate the National Rail service from Dagenham Dock. National Rail services also operate from nearby Chadwell Heathmarker. Dagenham Heathway is served by the following Transport for London contracted routes: London Buses route 145,173,174,175 and 364.


Valence House, a home of the Fanshawe family, is in Becontree Avenue. It is the only surviving of the five manor houses of Dagenham. Dating back to the 13th century it is sited in parkland and is partially surrounded by a moat. Valence House is the borough's local history museum and art gallery, displaying an impressive collection of artifacts and archives that tell the story of the lives of the people of Barking and Dagenham. The collection also includes portraits, family papers and other mementoes of the Fanshawe family, who occupied Parsloes Manor, since demolished, from the sixteenth century. The Fanshawe collection is "one of the best collections of gentry portraits in the country and is of international importance," according to Valence House. Valence House will soon open a new Fanshawe Gallery featuring the 53 Fanshawe portraits in one room. Among members of the Fanshawe family was the diplomat Sir Richard Fanshawe, 1st Baronet, whose portrait is at Valence House. Nine successive members of the Fanshawe family served as Remembrancer to the Crown, following Henry Fanshawe's appointment to the position by Queen Elizabeth I in 1566. The appointment made possible the family's rise to prominence.

On the corner of Whalebone Lane and the Eastern Avenue, diagonally opposite the Moby-Dick public house, is the site of a Saxon moot hall. The adjoining fields were used during World War II by the Royal Artillery as an anti-aircraft battery before being converted into a Prisoner of War camp for Germans. Further south down Whalebone Lane on the corner of the High Road is the Tollgate pub. This stands on the site of the milestone which marked the ten mile (16 km) limit from the City of Londonmarker and the turnpike toll-gate.

Dagenham & Redbridge F.C., based in Dagenham, are currently playing in the Football League Two having been promoted as Nationwide Conference champions in the 2006/7 season. They play at the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham Stadium, on Victoria Road. Motorcycle speedway was staged at the greyhound stadium in Ripple Road in the mid to late 1930s. The club run events focussed on training but a team called the Dagenham Daggers did take part in local competitions. Dagenham has a King George's Field in memorial to King George V. The park, which has been in existence for over a century, was renamed in 1953 by Queen Elizabeth II. Dagenham also has many other parks such as Valence and Parsloes. Dagenham Crusaders Drum and Bugle Corps, founded by John Johnson, were the first British Drum Corps and performed in America for the first time in 1983. They have recently reformed to perform for DCUK's 30th anniversary.

Notable people

One of the longest-serving vicars of Dagenham was Rev. Iain Jack, who died at age 82 in 1797, having served Dagenham for 58 years. Rev. Blackborne was the grandson of Sir Richard Levett, Lord Mayor of London and was married to Frances Fanshawe of Parsloes Manor in Dagenham. Rev. Blackborne and his wife are buried at Saint Anne's Church, Kewmarker. The Blackborne family had long lived in Dagenham and Hornchurch. At the time of the Restoration, the entire manor of Cockermouth, to which the church was appended, was owned by Sir Thomas Darcy who sold it to William Blackborne Esq., whose heirs later sold to the Bonynges.

Famous Dagenham natives include:

Popular culture

  • Linda Smith once wrote "Erithmarker isn't twinned with anywhere, but it does have a suicide pact with Dagenham".
  • In 1995, Morrissey released a song called "Dagenham Dave", which was also the title of an earlier song by the Stranglers, and British Oi! band Cock Sparrer have a song called "Last Train to Dagenham". Additionally, UK Grime artist Devlin has a song called "Dagenham", which is about living in the area.
  • An episode of The Secret Millionaire featured Dagenham prominently, particularly the local legend Wyn.
  • Singer and Theatre Arts student Stacey Solomon comes from Dagenham. Stacey is a contestant on the sixth Series of The X Factor and one of the 12 finalists on the show.


  1. Ford UK - History of Ford in Britain
  2. Greater London Authority - Wind Turbines, Ford Estate, Dagenham planning application. 4 June 2003.
  3. British History Online - The Hundred of Becontree
  4. Vision of Britain - Dagenham parish ( historic map)
  5. Vision of Britain - Romford RD ( historic map)
  6. Greater London: Case for Central Authority: Area and Powers. The Times. December 14, 1921.
  7. Vision of Britain - Dagenham MB
  8. Vision of Britain - Barking LB
  9. Barking and Dagenham London Borough Council - The Mayor
  10. Olechnowicz, A., Working-Class Housing in England Between the Wars: The Becontree Estate (1997)
  11. British History Online - The borough of Barking. Date accessed: 5 May 2007.
  12. Vision of Britain - Dagenham population
  13. Rose, D., The London Underground: A diagrammatic history, (1999)
  14. Railways Archive - Report on the collision at Dagenham East - 30.01.58
  15. National Statistics Office Data:
  16. c2c - Stations and route map
  17. Transport for London - Buses from Dagenham Heathway
  18. Valence House museum
  19. The Fanshawe Family, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham,
  20. The History of Essex: From the Earliest Period to the Present Time, Elizabeth Ogborne, Printed for the Proprietors and sold by R.H. Kelham, London, 1814
  21. Valence House Museum Refurbishment project, Valence House Museum, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham,
  22. Rev. Blackborne also served a parish in Middlesex, where he and his wife Frances (nee Fanshawe) had the use of an estate in St. Martin-in-the-Fields, according to their deed of 1791.[1]
  23. Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica, Vol. II, Joseph Jackson Howard. F.S.A., Hamilton, Adams, and Co., London, 1876
  24. This Blackborne family is undoubtedly related to Robert Blackborne, Samuel Pepys's good friend, who was Secretary of the Admiralty, and later Secretary of the original East India Company.
  25. The History of Essex: From the Earliest Period to the Present Time, Elizabeth Ogborne, Printed for the Proprietors by R.H. Kelham, London, 1814
  26. Page 98 Marc Almond, Tainted Life Sidgwick & Jackson

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