Thames Tributary River Roding - Creekmouth

Thames Tributary River Roding
The Roding flows into the Thames as Barking Creek
TQ 45836 81867

Industrial area where the Roding meets the Thames

Post to the north River Road
Post to the west Beckton
Post to the east Barking Power Station site
Post to the south Tripcock Ness

Barking Creek
Barking Creek – This is where the River Roding flows into the Thames at Barking. It is recorded as ‘Barking Creek’ in 1588 and it gives its name to the area called Creekmouth. In the 1900s the creek was badly polluted by an 1882 sewage works at Ilford and in dry weather sewage effluent formed a large part of the flow.  In 1900 the urban district council, built a work with an outfall into the Thames by Barking Creek. In 1930 the Ilford and Barking Joint Sewerage Committee linked it with the Northern Outfall Sewer.  Up to sixty cormorants can now be seen at the mouth of the Creek, where the outflow of the Northern Outfall Sewer attracts numbers of fish. Many of the birds fly at dusk to the Walthamstow Reservoirs.
Footpath at Creekmouth which is the first public access to the east bank of Barking Creek which runs from River Road to the flood barrier.
Sea wall. This was rebuilt in the 1970s before the flood barrier was built and a small area of mudflat was also reclaimed. The stone face of the wall supports saltmarsh species. Higher up the wall is beet and elder
Grassland between the flood barrier and River Road of great botanical interest. In the 1970s during sea defence construction chalk was brought in for landscaping the new ground and the grassland has typical chalkland species

River Road
Crows Tar Works. Thomas Crow had an ammonia works and a laboratory near what is still known as Crows Road, in West Ham. In 1836 a Thomas Crow – presumably the same man - rented Westbury House in Barking, and was probably a Conservator of the River Lea. In the 1850s a Mr. Edward Crow established a sulphate of ammonia works on the east side of Barking Creek. This was a sulphate of ammonia and tar works. The tar was subject to fractional distillation, and no means were used to control odours except of hydrogen sulphide. 
Lawes Works This was on the east side of the creek from the 1850s. John Bennett Lawes was the inventor of superphosphate at Deptford Creek in 1845 and was knighted in 1882 for his services to agriculture. His Rothampstead home is now a research establishment named for him. In 1857 100 acres at Barking Creek, were bought and a factory and workmen's cottages were built. However this business was soon after purchased by group of businessmen although it retained Lawes name as Lawes Chemical Manure Co Ltd and manufactured artificial fertilisers, sulphuric acid etc. Branches were set up world wide. It became Lawes Chemical Co. Ltd. in 1955 and went into liquidation in 1969. The business continuing to trade under the name of Seabright Chemicals Ltd.   The works had a river frontage of 200 yards and in the 1870s was the source of a pungent odour and vapours irritating to the eyes. Sulphuric acid was produced by the burning of crude sulphur, pyrites, and spent oxide from the gas works. Waste gases went uncleaned into a 110 foot high chimney. The materials used were shoddy, waste leather, guano, dried bones, coprolites and mineral phosphates and sulphate of ammonia.  Complaints on smell had come from Beckton Gas Works, the barracks at Woolwich and Plumstead village.
Coalite Plant. The British Coalite Company was set up in 1906 to exploit a patent of Thomas Parker.  The Barking plant was their second works. Gas was also made here for their for internal use
Davy’s Tar Works opened in 1872 tar on the east side of the Creek. The works covered two acres, and were established in April or May, 1872 having moved here from a site at Hackney Wick – where inhabitants had petitioned to have the works removed. They used coal tar as the raw material subjected it to fractional distillation. They made carbolic acid and anthracene on the premises, sending other products away for rectification. Nuisance was caused to local people by their arrangements for running off the pitch
Gunpowder Magazine. This was owned Fogg, whose main site was the Baber Bridge Mills and later Underhill and some others - like other explosive works in this it was privately owned but under government contract. It was thus built for the government in 1719 to store up to 100 tons of gunpowder. In the 19th the inhabitants of Creekmouth were campaigned for its removal.
Creekmouth - Houses built in the later 19th near the factories which became essentially a small village
Barking Guano Works. This was opened by Daniel de Pass in 1878. The de Pass family had leased islands off southern Africa since the 1840s for the exploitation of guano – seabird droppings over many centuries.  This later became De Pass Fertilisers, and the Fisons.
Waste Management and Recycling
Crooked Billet. The pub was originally a wooden cottage on the west side of the road in the 1860s. Later it was moved to its present larger premises on the other side of the road.
St.Pauls church mission room opened 1894 and closed in the 1920s.
Church school were opened in 1894 and replaced in the 1900s by one built by the school board.
Flood barrier at the mouth of the Roding. Built 1979-83 by Binnie and Partners, engineers, with G.T. Bone, the architect. It is a tall drop-barrier like a portcullis spanning 125 ft.
Handley Page. What was effectively the first British aircraft factory opened here by Frederick Handley Page, in 1909. He was an electrical engineer, but had worked on experiments with gliders from a hillock made up of a rubbish he developed Blue Bird - a monoplane with wings like a bird. Despite the works being destroyed by a gale a monoplane with twin-cylinder engine was produced and exhibited at Olympia. The company’s big success was the "Yellow Peril," with a wing span of 35 feet and a 50 horsepower engine. It was the first machine to fly across London to Surrey.  In 1912 the company moved to Cricklewood.
Buzzard Creek Industrial estate
Buzzard's Mouth Sewer, a watercourse running between the fly ash pits and the allotments, and then to the Thames through the Creekmouth industrial estate.
Warpools Reach – named as the final section of the Roding/Barking Creek flowing into the Thames

East Ham Bank

Beckton Sewage Works. In 1887 Bazalgette designed a sewage treatment works for Beckton to deal with waste which was being dumped in the river. This included an engine house, two boiler houses and two chimneys and a workshop.
Chimney, 1887-9, by Joseph Bazalgette for the Metropolitan Board of Works. Originally one of two this is in brick with a limestone cap with fluting a patterned frieze. There were once steps giving access to the inside
Northern outfall sewer. This is the final outfall of the Sewer which runs from Wick Lane in Hackney to the Sewage Works at Beckton, built in the 1860s for the Metropolitan Board of Works. It picks up sewage from sewers all round North London and comes out into the Thames here. Initially sewage it was not treated and was pumped raw into the river.  By 1869 residents were petitioning Parliament because fish and commerce had gone but an Inspector’s report noted a wide variety of smells in this area.
Cormorants are attracted here by the fish around the outfall area.

Cockroft. Dangerous Energy
Crooked Billet. Web site
Curtis. Barking
East London Journal.
Gunpowder Study Group, Newsletter
Nature conservation in Barking
Osborne. Defending London
Victoria History of Essex


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