Barking’s heritage mural – the results are in!

Residents have given their verdict on the options for a heritage mural in the heart of Barking town centre.

Almost 170 people voted and substantially more than half favoured mural artist Jake Attewell’s striking design featured above.

Jake has vowed to honour the residents’ decision and will start work on the mural above McDonalds on the corner of Short Blue Place and East Street, Barking in early May 2021.

“I’m really pleased that so many voted and that the design was a crowd favourite,” he said, “I’m really looking forward to getting started. Feel free to come down and say hello to me and my team, and please follow our progress on Instagram!”

Jake says his design is a contemporary take on Barking’s heritage, much of it lost, but still valued by residents. His design features five main elements.

  • At the apex of the wall, there’s an illustration of early twentieth century East Street, including a tram, which Jake hopes to illuminate and animate when the mural is launched next September.
  • He has also incorporated the Bascule Bridge which carried the trams over the Roding to Beckton Gas Works, once a vital transport link for many local people employed there.
  • The Curfew Tower, which is the only remaining part of Barking’s once formidable Abbey.
  • The Wellington Windmill which until 1926 stood close to the London Road bridge between the River Roding and Back River
  • The River Roding flows through the design to the quayside, where fishing boats moored when it was the country’s busiest fishing port hosting the world’s largest fleet. It continues to be an attractive focal point for Barking today.

Jake was commissioned by Be First, the Council’s regeneration organisation, to paint the mural after a competition to design artwork for the heritage wall and the brief was developed using research by local Heritage Volunteers and a public survey which took place last summer.

The commission forms part of The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s programme of activities which will also include a heritage trail of installations by mosaic artist Tamara Fround which will stretch from Abbey Green to Short Blue Place, depicting other lost heritage, such as the Tudor Market Hall and Leet House, jute weavers and spinners, classic high street stores and more.

More information about our heritage progamme can be found here.

London’s Growth borough approves historic markets move east

Councillors approved plans to move historic City of London wholesale markets to Dagenham last night (22 March).

The news follows a string of new investments in Barking and Dagenham.  

Cllr Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “This is yet more great news for the borough. The move will bring jobs as well as new training opportunities as part of our plans to establish a food school locally. Along with the plans we announced last week for a second film studio, confirming our status as London’s Hollywood, this confirms our commitment to securing the recovery in the local economy.

“I am particularly pleased with the intention to use the River Thames to move freight to and from the markets. Together with the Thames freeport, this will help reduce the capital’s carbon footprint at the same time as promoting green, sustainable jobs.”

Last night’s approval was subject to any direction from the Mayor of London and the completion of a S106 legal agreement.  The Heads of Terms of the S106 were set out in the report and provide huge benefits for the borough.

They include:

  • Improvement works to the Goresbrook Interchange as well as £2 million for improvements to the A13
  • £2.95 mil for improvements to local bus services
  • A specialist food school with two campuses in the borough – one at Dagenham Dock and another at Barking Town Centre.
  • £1.75m towards the development and construction of a Food Hub in Barking Town Centre as part of the Barking Town Centre Regeneration Strategy. The Food Hub will feature independent food and drink outlets and stalls with fresh produce straight from the markets. It will be part of a major drive to create a vibrant night-time economy in Barking
  • £1m towards a food activation programme, which will seek to support and grow the food industry in the borough and maximise employment and business opportunities.
  • £1mil towards employment support and training to enable residents to access jobs on the new markets site
  • £850,000 towards public realm enhancements at Dagenham Dock station.

Cllr Rodwell added: “The move of these iconic markets to our borough will bring in hundreds of millions to the local economy and more jobs and educational opportunities for local people including a new food school which will develop the master chefs of the future.”


Big stride forward in helping the homeless

The Council this week took a big stride forward in its strategy to improve housing for local homeless and vulnerable people, as tenants started to move into the first of three new temporary housing developments in the borough.

Councillor Sade Bright, Cabinet Member for Employment, Skills and Aspiration, visited the first in Cook Road, Dagenham to meet young people moving into the 92 new homes developed by Be First, and built by Jerram Falkus.

Cllr Bright said: “These new flats will provide good quality temporary accommodation for local people who have roots in this borough but who find themselves homeless, whereas previously they were living in inadequate hostels or expensive temporary accommodation, sometimes far away from family, friends or support.

“Not only will these homes give them somewhere decent to stay while they find permanent housing, but the development will also save the council thousands of pounds each year which we can invest in better services.”

The 92 homes were built off site using top quality materials, delivered, assembled and finished at the site in Cook Road, Dagenham, in record time.

Overall, there are 24 one-bedroom flats, 36 two-bedroom flats and 32 three-bedroom homes.

Darren Cutts, Assistant Construction Director at Be First, said: “We’re really proud to play our part in helping to give local families who have been living in insecure accommodation a more stable future.”

The Cook Road development is part of a wider strategy which will deliver up to 200 new homes to house local homeless people and families.

It allows the council to offer accommodation to homeless families within the borough at the same time as reducing the cost of providing temporary accommodation which is currently £18million a year.

New homes for local homeless – built with bricks and mortar for hearts and minds

New homes providing emergency accommodation for local homeless people have been completed this week.

Councillor Sade Bright, Cabinet Member for Employment, Skills and Aspiration, visited the new look Grays Court in Dagenham this week.

Cllr Bright said: “The pandemic has underlined just how important a stable home is and, at the same time, just how easy it is to lose your home, through no fault of your own.

“So, I’m pleased that the newly renovated Grays Court will provide top quality emergency accommodation for people that find themselves in homeless and in need of somewhere secure to stay while they get themselves back on their feet. It is a real asset for the whole community.”

The restoration of Grays Court gives new life to the old hospital building and now provides 59 temporary accommodation rooms, a new community space and a GP out of hours service.

The community space will provide space for:

•            a community food club and cooking school

•            family learning opportunities

•            education and training facilities

•            careers fairs and job clubs

The new Grays Court was developed by Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s regeneration organisation, and built by United Living.

Iain Ferguson, Commercial Director at Be First, said: “Be First is not just about bricks and mortar, we’re about hearts and minds too. The new Grays Court will be a real community asset which will benefit local people looking for a permanent home and those who want to grab new opportunities and learn new skills.”

Paul Fleming, Project Manager at United Living, said: “This was a fantastic project to be a part of. The United living team that has delivered this project, feel extremely proud to have been able to deliver this much needed, quality emergency accommodation for individuals and families in these troubled times. Knowing how hard the pandemic has hit many families, this building can be a lifeline for so many.”

Major investment and jobs boost for London’s Hollywood

Combined with Eastbrook Studios, Hackman Capital Partners’ second investment brings up to £350m into the borough and the potential for over 1,800 new jobs.

The global demand for content produced in the UK received welcome news about increased capacity when Barking and Dagenham Council announced this week that global media real estate giants Hackman Capital Partners (HCP) will be investing in another state-of-the-art studio in the east London borough.


Last year, HCP and Square Mile Capital announced plans to build Eastbrook Studios – the capital’s largest film and TV production centre – in Dagenham, placing the borough at the heart of the British film industry’s efforts to “build back better.” They have now agreed a 10 year-lease with Barking and Dagenham Council for two existing warehouses alongside the River Roding in Barking, which will be converted into studios.


This deal, combined with Eastbrook Studios, will bring up to £350m worth of investment into the borough, offering a total of 18 sound stages and the potential to deliver over 1,800 new jobs.  HCP also plans to invest heavily in training and educational programmes in the local area, bolstering Barking and Dagenham as a hub of talent for the UK’s creative industries and a source of exciting job opportunities for young people and those with high-demand skills who are searching for a career change.

Known as The Wharf, the ten-acre site will complement the larger Dagenham Eastbrook Studios complex and deliver six new sound stages with associated production offices and workshop space. The studios are expected to open before the main Eastbrook complex and will be available for filming as early as Autumn this year.

Cllr Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “This is fantastic news and is another sign of the huge confidence in our borough, London and the UK from HCP, who have already made a massive commitment to building Eastbrook Studios and are now expanding to The Wharf. “Their decision to invest in The Wharf is another boost for our borough and London, meaning more jobs and opportunities for local people. We will not only be able to say movies will be Made in Dagenham but in Barking too!”

Michael Hackman, CEO Hackman Capital Partners, said: “We are delighted to develop The Wharf and continue Barking and Dagenham’s transformation into a global media hub. We are proud to add to the history of this storied area and have the support of such innovative and impactful leaders like Council Leader Rodwell.”

Minister for Investment, Gerry Grimstone said: “Brilliant news for Barking and Dagenham and with a further commitment from US investor Hackman Capital Partners towards boosting the local economy, driving regeneration and showcasing the UK’s world-class film industry to the world. The Government is paving the way for an investment-led recovery through our Office for Investment, freeports and measures to ensure the UK is the best place to invest and grow a business.”

Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First, which negotiated the agreement on behalf of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “This announcement is further proof that Barking and Dagenham is attracting modern, knowledge based and creative industries. The borough which was blighted by deindustrialisation in the late 20th century is becoming economically vibrant again.”

Eastbrook Studios in Dagenham, which will be the largest studio campus in London, will provide a major investment for the borough, the entertainment industry and the capital, contributing £35m per year to the local economy and catalysing more development into East London.

HCP is committed to delivering new training opportunities for the industry and are working closely with the Council and local education institutions including Barking and Dagenham College. The recently opened East London Institute of Technology (ELIoT) at the college, specialising in Film/TV production and construction is perfectly placed to help educate the next generation of film crew.

Adrian Wootton OBE, Chief Executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, said: “There could never be a better time to open new studio space in the capital. Despite COVID, London and the UK’s film and TV industry is flourishing. Industry recovery in the final quarter of 2020 generated £1.19 billion spend for film and high-end TV, the second highest three-month spend on record. The demand is there – and growing. We just need the studio space to match it, which is why today’s announcement of additional sound stages in east London by autumn is not only welcome, but extremely timely. Film and high-end TV can help drive London and the UK’s economic recovery, providing UK plc with billions of pounds, supporting hundreds and thousands of jobs and bringing regeneration and growth to areas like Barking and Dagenham.”

Jason Turton Assistant Principal at Barking and Dagenham College said: “We are extremely excited to be working with such forward-thinking employer partners. Within ELIoT we incorporate training, learning, research, innovation and enterprise that will deliver excellence in advanced and higher technical skills to meet the needs of local learners, employers and communities in East London that can support this revolutionary development. We are proud to be part of this new vision for the borough and are working closely together to ensure that we give local people opportunities that are hard to find in the film and creative industries.”


Your vote will count, says heritage mural artist

Mural artist, Jake Attewell, is asking residents to help him decide which of three possible designs he should paint on the wall in Short Blue Place, Barking, this spring. 

He has come up with three stunning suggestions and wants residents’ help to decide which celebrates Barking’s heritage best. 

“I’ve spent a lot of time researching Barking’s fascinating history,” says Jake, “and I would love it if local people would take a look at my designs and decide which they think captures that history most effectively.  

“I will paint the option that people prefer,” he adds, “so every vote will count”.    

Jake was commissioned by Be First, the Council’s regeneration organisation, to paint the mural after he won a competition to design artwork for the wall above McDonalds on the corner of Short Blue Place and East Street, Barking. The commission forms part of a National Lottery Heritage Fund programme of activities which also includes a heritage trail of mosaic installations by artist Tamara Fround. 

Votes can be registered here until 10pm on Tuesday 23rd March. You can also sign up to find out more about the heritage programme on the website Guest Book.