Stage 27 of the London Spiral, a walk round the whole of London from the centre to the edge, spiralling slowly outwards.
This walk is from the far end of City Airport to Barking.
Meet at: King George V DLR station, 1pm
When: Sunday 12 November 2017
Distance: the walk is 6.2 miles, with a break
Walk to: Seven Kings overground station, travel zone 4, via Beckton, Barking and Ilford
Route Map: http://binged.it/2gHxOkw
Two themes emerge from the geographic history of Beckton and Barking over the last 100 years, and both go some way to explain the sense of disenfranchisement the walker encounters passing through the borough. Big, dirty industry like gas and sewage carved up sheets of the land, and closed their gates, denying access right down to the shoreline, while the council seeming to provide housing and schooling and healthcare and everything on a mammoth scale, made everything contingent, borrowed, not yours by right.
After the Industry came shopping malls, drive-to’s, chuck-your-garbage-out-the-window-drive thru’s. Drive on. Take the A13. You’ve no ownership here. Across the River Roding. Thank the council for the cycle lane. We’ve heard before the noise of the north circular.
There’s no access to the land, so no wonder the few strands of public land – verges by roadsides, muddy reedbeds, scrubby young trees behind shopping mall car parks – are strewn with litter, scorched by fires set by local lads escaping to the woods, trying to rekindle an older connection to the elemental forces of the earth. It’s like a teenager town, grumbling and uncoordinated, hemmed in.
Why are these places never cleaned up?
About a hundred years ago 25,000 houses were built on the flat marsh lands – the size of a town, and yet it’s not a town, not yet, it’s an outlier. No garden suburb this. Street after similar street. Its self-image is poverty – that’s what the litter signifies. But in reality Barking is rich. Why else do people come here from all over the world? Of course, they didn’t mean to end up exactly here. But there’s theatre, transport, parkland, markets, and people trading, studying, working. All it lacks is self-confidence, and to gain self-confidence it needs freedom.
What Beckton needs is friends. Friends who will come together and clean up the thrown-away plastics, heal the flame-sored ground, plant new trees, make the parks bigger. Make them safer.
Array of 42 pine trees outside Gallions Reach DLR station
Triumphal bridge exits the north circular. View it on Google. Intended for a crossing of the Thames that was never built.
View from the triumphal bridge down the Royal Docks Road to the end at Gallions Reach
Abandoned car and smaller items of litter beneath the north circular.
Muddy River Roding flowing south to the Thames, below the A13 road
Broom bush on the Gascoigne Road
Gascoigne primary school. Roof playground.
Clock tower Barking town hall
Spectrum of panelling, Barking
Learning centre Barking.
Under construction, ten years ago 2007, source: wikipedia:
Loxford lake in Barking Park.