Thames Tributary Beam River - Bretons
The river continues to flow south towards the Thames
TQ 52065 85006
Extensive area of housing and parkland on the site of Hornchurch Battle of Britain airfield. There is also the old manor of Bretons and some remains of the Romford Canal.
Post to the north Eastbrookend
Post to the west Dagenham East
The river is the divide between Barking and Havering, Dagenham Corridor
The Beam River has also been known as the Mardyke, just to confuse things, and also called the Fleetsmouth or Dagenham Creek
Named for Group Captain Adnams, station commander RAF Hornchurch in 1943
Wing Commander George Denholme commanded 601 Squadron at Hornchurch during the Second World War and won victories the DFC.
The Becontree Estate did not go east beyond Dagenham East station, and the Beam valley remained open and was designated as 'Green Belt; in the 1950s. Much of the area was used for gravel extraction and supploied materials for the building of Becontree.
Gravel workings on the flood plain of the Beam which were active until the 1960s and were on a terrace west of the river. These area now host vegetation typical of recently disturbed land. Hummocks make suitable spots for grass snakes to bask and newts live in the rubble. Mice and voles are hunted by Kestrels and there are skylark nests. The scrub is kept in check by horse grazing.
A lake which is east of the river – this is an artificial lake built in the 1970s. It is used for fishing and great crested grebes breed there.
The Beam River is sunk in a deep channel in the southern part of the park but further north there are beds of bur-reed as well as water figwort and fool's cress. In the water are patches of pondweed.
Ditch – this is the remains of the old, and never finished, canal. It is parallel to the river and fifty metres west of it.
Ford Lodge was a large house which once stood here, on a traditional site and probably home to a Reginald de la Forde in the 13th. In the First World War it was a Belgian hospital and later demolished,
Brittons School. Now calls itself Brittons Academy
Named for George Gilroy, Hornchurch RAF pilot shot down over Ilford in 1940.
Named for Eric Locke an RAF Pilot believed to have been shot down over France.
Named for Anthony Lovell, an RAF pilot who served with 41 Squadron at Hornchurch
At the end of the road a patch of reed growth marks the path of the Romford Canal.
Brettons. The manor of Bretons – also called Daniels or Porter's Fee - probably took its name from the Breton family, which lived at Hornchurch from the 12th to the 14th. Daniels and Porters seem to have been separate tenements. In the 15th Sir Richard Arundel held Bretons, and it passed through several owners until in the early 15th William Ayloffe ad his descents held it for many years, until Sir Benjamin Ayloffe, Bt., and a royalist sold it to meet the costs of sequestration. It then passed through more owners and in 1869, was bought by Romford local board for use as a sewage farm. In 1976 it was developed by Havering L.B.C. as a youth and sports ground. It currently includes many sports and an equestrian centre.
Barn from the 16th
Bretons house late-17th origin but rebuilt in the mid 18th, and in the 20th. Restored 1975. It is now a social and heritage centre.
Garden walls Listed Grade II. 16th walls with bee boles on the area of the original house
Romford Canal Remains. The canal bed can be seen north of the road alongside a pill box which was presumably built to protect it. West of the footpath are some concrete tank traps. It likely that a lock was planned in this area.
Named for Edgar Ryder, a regular in the RAF since 1936 who is said to have been the first pilot to successfully ditch a Spitfire.
Named for Peter Simpson who commanded RAF Hornchurch during the Normandy landings.
Named for Lt Frank Sowrey who shot down the L32 airship in the First World War
Named for Edward Wells an RAF pilot who was at Hornchurch. He was nicknamed ‘Hawkeye’.
Field. London Place Names
London Borough of Havering. Web site
Nature Conservation in Barking and Dagenham
Pevsner and Cherry. Essex
RAF Hornchurch. Web site
Victoria County History of Essex