‘Tis the season to be jolly, and the team at Barking Riverside are busy spreading Christmas cheer.
The festive fun began on Monday with Barking Riverside’s inaugural Christmas Light Switch On event. Local residents, proud parents, Headteacher Chris Harrison and Cllr Cameron Geddes watched pupils from The George Carey Primary School, George Reardon, Timi Sanni and Emily Honeywell, illuminate the first ever community Christmas tree outside the Rivergate Centre.
The school choir and local residents also performed carols under the spectacular 30ft tree. Positioned in the heart of the development, outside the Rivergate Centre, the tree was kindly donated by DF Clark Bionomique, with decorations sponsored by The Knight Group and Ardent Consulting Engineers. Children from the school’s Art Club also produced a large star to place on top of the tree.
Richard Southall, L&Q’s Assistant Director for Barking Riverside Limited (BRL) comments, “This is BRL’s first Christmas here at Barking Riverside, so it was important for us to start as we mean to go on – putting the local community at the centre of all our activities. The switch on was a wonderful opportunity to bring local residents together and enjoy some wonderful Christmas carolling.”
The merrymaking continues on Thursday 15th December, when, disguised as Father Christmas and his Elves, the Barking Riverside Project Team will deliver over 800 presents to The George Carey Primary School and Nursery, donating a Christmas gift for every child.
Year 6 pupils from The George Carey Primary School focused their binoculars on Barking Riverside yesterday, for an afternoon of Ecology education at one of the UK’s largest housing projects.
Led by a team of ecologists at DF Clark Bionomique*, pupils built insect hotels, spotted a common seal and learnt about the importance of habitat conservation at the single largest regeneration site in London. The pupils walked along the public footpath running through the site, in search of native birdlife, including Godwits and Shelducks which can be spotted on the mudflats, along the Northern bank of the River Thames.
Varsha Patel, PR and Marketing Manager for Barking Riverside Limited said, “Barking Riverside has strong environmental principles and so we are extremely proud to showcase the variety of wildlife and species living on the site to the local community. Working with George Carey Primary School gave us a wonderful opportunity to teach children about Ecology as well as make them aware of this unique environment right on their doorstep and we look forward to working with other local schools on similar projects. ”
Schools interested in coming to see the Ecology on site should email there interest to: email@example.com
A 1950’s vault within the grounds of a beautiful abandoned Control Building in Barking was finally cracked open by one of the UK’s top safe engineers, exposing another safe and a series of fascinating artefacts.
The old Control Room was once part of Barking Power Station and is now one of only two power station landmarks that still remain standing in London. The Control Room was opened in 1925 by King George V and remains a significant part of the heritage of Barking Riverside; a brand new London neighbourhood creating up to 10,800 homes in partnership with housing association L&Q and the Greater London Authority.
It took one of the UK’s leading safe engineers approximately seven hours to crack open the vault which included cutting new keys. Due to security issues, the identity of the safe engineer cannot be revealed but he has previously worked for the Ministry of Defence and flown to Afghanistan.
Matthew Carpen, Project Director of Barking Riverside Ltd, said: “The suspense of waiting for the vault to be opened has been immense. To witness the vault door finally open and walking into the vault was pretty special and something we’ll all remember for years to come. We envisaged there being another safe but to be honest, we didn’t know what we were going to find.
He added, “The Control Room is a legacy of the Power Station and Barking’s rich history so we have every intention of restoring the building as part of the Barking Riverside development and exploring all options that could allow some form of public access.”
The findings within the vault, which were a captivating time capsule, included a striking double-doored Chatwood Milner safe, a bookshelf of decomposed folders and files that most likely contained documents relating to workers from the power station. The documents once examined, will hopefully reveal information about the past and the hundreds of people who worked at the power station. Amongst the artefacts, was a long service award belonging to Mr Frederick Ernest Webster for his 25 years of service at the Power Station. It remains a mystery why it was in the safe.
Barking Riverside Ltd are keen to see what can be reclaimed and are keen to work in
Rob Smith, Historian from Footprints of London, said: “The safe was located in the wages room, and on Fridays the workers at the power station would be queuing up outside the hatch in the door, eager to pick up their pay packets. Wages were paid in cash, and with so many workers at the factory a lot of money would be on site on pay day – hence the double safe. Wages robberies were not unusual in industrial areas where factories were well away from the police. So the finance staff at Barking Power Station were taking no chances.”
This momentous event was made extra special with the family of the late Brian Yates being invited to see the vault being cracked as a tribute to Brian. Brian was a local resident who had worked as a security guard at the Power Station for numerous years until it closed in 1982. He then decided to open up his own yard, 200 metres from the Control Room building. The building use to house the power station’s Fire Station. It was particularly fitting as Brian was the former Estate Manager for Barking Riverside so this was one of his buildings he looked after.
Brian Yates is quite possibly the last person to have gone into the vault before the power station’s closure.
Wife of the late Brian Yates, Nita Yates was nervous about returning to the site and for support brought her three daughters as well as a sentimental piece of Brian, his flat cap, which she had in her handbag. She said: “Brain’s happiest memories were working at the Power Station and at his yard. This is where he taught his girls to drive; this is where his children and grandchildren grew up and played. The girls and I are touched to have been invited today and to have the vault opening attributed to Brian. He would have loved to have been here to see this.”
There are no confirmed plans of what the Control Building will be used for but BRL are in very early talks with an Agricultural College who have expressed an interest in the building as well as exploring other possible public uses.
Minister for Housing and Planning, Gavin Barwell received a warm welcome to Barking Riverside by representatives of Barking Riverside Ltd (BRL), London and Quadrant Housing Trust (L&Q) and Barking and Dagenham Council on Monday 26 September.
MP Gavin Barwell arranged a visit to learn about one of the most ambitious regeneration developments in the UK, which also recently had its Master Plan approved by the Mayor of London on the 5 September.
Speaking on a visit to the site, Housing and Planning Minister Gavin Barwell said: “It’s fantastic to see the potential that this development will have in providing thousands of desperately needed homes. But for me it’s also really interesting to see the complexities involved in such large sites. So I intend to take up some of these issues in terms of the National Grid pylons issue and key linkages between infrastructure in this case and see what explicit deals we can make to help communities build more homes by helping to improve the infrastructure.”
Matt Carpen, Project Director of BRL said: “It was a pleasure to welcome MP Gavin Barwell to Barking Riverside and talk through the background, scope and future ambitions of the project.”
Andy Rowland, Development Director at L&Q said: “It was great to share with the Minister how L&Q plans to help shape the future of one of the UK’s largest developments and create a whole new community. Once completed Barking Riverside will provide up to 11,000 much needed quality homes for all Londoners, and will become a new destination for the capital which will open up the area’s stunning river-fronted landscape. Barking Riverside is a significant step on the way to L&Q’s goal to create 100,000 new homes in the next ten years to suit everyone’s needs, and will offer a whole range of options from homes for sale and rent on the open market to genuinely affordable homes for local people.”
Barking Riverside are proud sponsors of this year’s Open House London and invite you this Saturday to find out about the plans to build a brand new neighbourhood in Barking.
Visitors will get an insight into what is happening at Barking Riverside as well as the chance to jump into our 4×4 for an ‘off-road’ Jeep tour. Visitors will have the opportunity to ask questions, take part in a fact finding trail and enjoy complimentary drinks and nibbles overlooking the beautiful Thames.
A free shuttle bus service will run from outside The Spotted Dog Pub, next to Barking Underground Station, departing at 11.30am, 1pm and 3pm (returning to Barking Station at various intervals). Alternatively, residents can reach the Barking Riverside Project Office via the EL1 bus (towards Barking Riverside) from outside Barking Station. The nearest bus stop is Estuary Close, which is a 5-6 minute walk from the project office. Parking is available on site for those who wish to drive.
Special arrangements have also been made for local residents. A free shuttle bus will pick residents up from the Rivergate Centre at 11am and 1.45pm.