Secret lemonade drinker’s 100 year old bottle found in Barking building site

Eagle eyed excavators unearthed a 100 year old R.White’s bottle as they prepared a new housing site on Upney Lane, Barking last week.  

The Doulton Lambeth Salt glazed pottery bottle was spotted by Rob Finbow, Site Manager for contractors Jerram Falkus, who are working to build 95 new council-owned flats for the borough’s regeneration company, Be First.  

Rob, who confessed to being a fan of the secret lemonade drinker in his youth, said: “We were surprised to find it in such good condition – it’s certainly captured the interest of our team in the local areas history.”

The bottle, which is inscribed with the name R. Whites, was probably made locally. The R Whites factory was located for many years in nearby Barking town centre and closed only in 1972 when it moved to Beckton. A number of Barking town centre buildings celebrate this fact, most notably the Lemonade Building which is clad in the R. Whites colours.  

Staff on site have speculated that the original owner of the bottle may have been the original secret lemonade drinker since it appeared to be consumed by a solitary drinker. The bottle was the only historic find unearthed on the site.  

The bottle will, however, be used in school work by Be First‘s Heritage Engagement Manager, Simone Panayi, who will be using it in the work she does with local schools exploring local history.  

Simone commented: “I am really excited by the find, it’s a really important part of Barking’s, industrial heritage, so I’m so pleased that Jerram Falkus have donated it to us.  Lemonade is something I am absolutely addicted to but to paraphrase Ross McManus – I’ve been trying to give it up but it’s one of those nights!”



Special delivery – the homes built in half the time

The last of the modules making up 13 new council homes were delivered to Sugden Way, Barking today (Monday, 27January).

Be First, the council’s pioneering regeneration company, commissioned specialist construction company Rollalong to build and deliver the modular homes, which are built offsite and then bolted together and finished on site.

The first modules were lifted into place on Monday 20 January and the last arrived today – making a delivery in just six days.

Councillor Cameron Geddes, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Social Housing visited as the third delivery took place last week.

“I was astonished by the progress”, he said, “but the beauty of this system is that we can construct top quality permanent new homes twice as fast as using traditional methods, and in half the time, meaning significantly less disruption to the neighbours.”

The modern construction method is widely used on the continent and has become renowned for its quality, since the majority of the construction work can be done in controlled conditions and tested rigorously.

Be First appointed Rollalong to design and build 19 modular homes for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham from its 11-acre manufacturing and head office site in Dorset.

Rollalong Managing Director Steve Chivers commented: “I was very proud to see the initial delivery of modules to the site.  It is a very exciting project which will provide a range of high-quality, affordable housing for people in Barking and Dagenham, and we’re very pleased with progress so far.

“There is a shortage of housing in the borough and our modular alternatives to traditional construction offer a real opportunity to address the shortfall in approximately half the time.”

Tom Mather, Construction Director at Be First, added: “I am delighted with the pace and delivery of the project to date.  This is very much the future of the building industry and we expect to use offsite construction regularly, since we can reliably deliver more quality homes much more quickly.”

Ringing in a new era

A new era of quality affordable housing in the borough is truly underway, said Barking and Dagenham Council’s Cabinet member for regeneration this week.

Cllr Cameron Geddes was speaking after a site tour to see the latest phase of demolition get underway along Ripple Road on Barking’s Gascoigne Estate. It includes the iconic 12 storey tower block, Bamber House, overlooking the town centre.

Cllr Geddes, Cabinet Member Regeneration and Social Housing, was joined by Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First and Aaron Pearson, Operations Manager at construction firm, Willmott Dixon.

Cllr Geddes said: “Around 100 years ago Barking and Dagenham led the way in building affordable homes for ordinary Londoners and today we’re leading the way again. This year we will be starting to build over 700 quality homes on the Gascoigne Estate, and hundreds elsewhere in the borough.

“But it’s not just the start of the rebuilding of this estate it’s the beginning or a new era of quality affordable housing for working people of our borough.”

Pat Hayes, Be First’s Managing Director, said: “This year we will be pressing down hard on the accelerator to start building 3,000 affordable homes for the council and local people.”

Be First has teamed up with Willmott Dixon to provide time-lapse video footage of the work as it progresses.  Monthly updates will be available to watch here.

Many of Willmott Dixon’s team from the Aberfeldy Village regeneration work in nearby Tower Hamlets, as well as the recently completed Dudley House in Westminster, are now involved at Gascoigne Estate.

Chris Tredget, Managing Director for Willmott Dixon in London and East, said: “We are delighted to be bringing our regeneration skills to Barking and work alongside Be First to create a fantastic new living environment for hundreds of people on the east side of Gascoigne Estate.”

The plans for the Gascoigne estate include:

  • attractive, tree-lined public spaces, including an entirely new park – the 5,000 square metre Gascoigne Square – with public art and striking designs in a mixture of traditional and modern styles;
  • energy supplied by an array of rooftop photo-voltaic cells and connection to the district heating system, with energy savings expected to be 40% of CO2 emissions against the Building Regulations; and
  • pedal power will also have a big part to play as Be First plans to install over 1,000 cycle parking spaces, recognising both the low car ownership levels in the area, the convenience of nearby public transport and an ambition to encourage active travel in the borough.


Demolition begins on 200-home Gascoigne West project in Barking

Demolition is now underway on the west side of the Gascoigne Estate, making way for the delivery of more than 200 new homes in Barking over the next two years.

Barking and Dagenham Council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell and Managing Director of Be First Pat Hayes joined together with Wates Residential Operations Director, Adrian Fennessy and construction site representatives on Friday to view progress at the site on Abbey Road and celebrate the significant step forward for the scheme.

The £55 million project will see part of the 1960s estate redeveloped into a modern, environmentally friendly community, including 201 new homes, of which 60 per cent will be affordable, with rents starting from £137 a week (2020 prices). The plans include 89 one-bedroom, 88 two-bedroom and 24 three-bedroom homes, while a new children’s play area will also be built to provide open space for local people to enjoy.

Mindful of the environment, the designs include plans to install electric car charging points and more than 360 new bicycle parking spaces. The new homes will also contribute to a 40 per cent reduction in carbon emissions thanks to a connection to the forthcoming Barking Town Centre District Heating Network and the installation of solar panels.

Building work is expected to be completed in spring 2022.

Cllr Darren Rodwell, Barking and Dagenham Council Leader, said: “It’s a great start to the New Year – we’re now making visible headway in rebuilding a better, greener Gascoigne estate. It illustrates our determination to build top quality, affordable homes for local people not just in this part of Barking but across the entire borough.”

Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First, said: “We’re starting 2020 with a resolution to dramatically increase the rate at which we build new affordable homes for local people, and the redevelopment of this part of the Gascoigne estate is just one of 15 projects we expect to get off the ground this year.”

 Paul Nicholls, Managing Director for Wates Residential, said: “We’re delighted to have begun the first stage of demolition on this exciting flagship project, delivering more than 200 homes for people in Barking.

“Together with our partners, we will deliver new high-quality homes and create a lasting legacy for the whole community through our investment in education, skills and training because we believe that everyone deserves a great place to live.”

The Gascoigne Estate West project is being delivered by national developer Wates Residential after it won a place on the pioneering Be First Development Framework last year.

As part of the project, Wates Residential will increase investment in education, training and skills opportunities, delivering a borough-wide legacy.

Commitments include recruiting a minimum of 20% of local work force and addressing the skills shortage with a wider education programme that will run through local schools.

Wates Residential will also promote job vacancies to those who currently face barriers to employment, in addition to providing work experience placements and careers advice sessions, and a number of apprenticeships in key traditional areas including bricklaying, and carpentry, as well as in business administration.

See for yourself, urges regeneration head

Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s urban regeneration organisation, has announced a third year of its unique free bus tour which is designed to give residents and visitors an insight into regeneration in this fast-growing borough.

Managing Director of Be First, Pat Hayes, said: “Be First’s mission is to accelerate growth in the borough so that we can provide homes and jobs for local people. It’s a huge task and we hope to deliver 50,000 new homes and 20,000 new jobs over the next 20 years.

“But to appreciate the scale and the opportunity, it’s not enough to read about it – you have to see it with your own eyes.  That’s why it’s good to book yourself a place on the best bus tour in town.”

Qualified guide, Charlie Forman, leads the tour and provides a friendly and entertaining insight into the past, present and fast-evolving future of the borough.

The tour starts and finishes from Barking Town Hall and does a circuit of the borough, including the Ice House Quarter, Barking Riverside and the industrial and residential areas of dynamic Dagenham, including the soon-to-be film studio site.

The monthly tours are free to the public and can be booked on a first come, first served basis here.