Bazalgette’s Northern Outfall Sewer works at Barking Creek. Original page from The Illustrated London News dated May, 28th. 1864 captioned: “London main-drainage works: view and section of the outfall of the northern drainage at Barking Creek.”
The following text is from a ‘blog’ for Reach plc’s ‘In Your Area’ platform published in 2019.
We have looked at Joseph Bazalgette’s Thames Embankment and the London Outfall Sewer on a couple of occasions.
Today’s image shows its terminus in Essex, near the village of Barking.
Barking has a history dating back many centuries with evidence of Roman occupation having been discovered as well as Saxon settlements close to the confluence of the rivers Roding and Thames.
William the Conqueror made camp here whilst the Tower of London was being built ‘up river.’
Barking Abbey, one of the largest and most influential monasteries in mediaeval England, was established here in the 7th century and survived until its closure in 1539, as a consequence of King Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries.
Here Henry VIII’s ships were repaired and from here timber felled in Epping Forest was brought down the Roding and transported onward down the Thames to Woolwich for the building of the Royal Navy’s ships.
From the middle ages until the nineteenth century the main industry was fishing, with the Barking fleet claiming to be the largest in England, with a Victorian icehouse where fish were landed, frozen, and transported to Billingsgate Market.
However, by mid-century fish were giving way to chemical and fertiliser factories built by John Lawes at Creekmouth, together with homes for his workers, a school for their children, and a mission church for community use.
In 1878 some of the bodies of the 600 victims of the Princess Alice disaster were taken from the River Thames to the school and mission church.
Just three days into WW2, the “Battle of Barking Creek” took place, in which a Spitfire made its first ‘kill’ of the war. Unfortunately, the victim was Pilot Officer Montague Hulton-Harrop, the pilot of a Royal Airforce Hurricane, and a victim of a tragic friendly fire incident.
During the North Sea Flood of 1953, when 58 Canvey Islanders were drowned, and hundreds lost their homes, the residents of Creekmouth awoke to 3ft of water in their homes. The ‘village’ was later abandoned and demolished by the council.
Since the building of the Thames Barrier Barking has had a tidal flood barrier at the mouth of the River Roding as it flows out through Barking Creek into the River Thames. It is closed before and opened after the main Thames Barrier at Woolwich.