Rippleside, Barking & Dagenham

A commercial locality in south-east Barking, north of the marshland of Ripple Level

3D Scan of the Dagenham Idol, reproduced courtesy of Archaeoptics Ltd.
3D Scan of the Dagenham Idol, repro­duced courtesy of Archaeoptics Ltd.

In Old English a ‘ripple’ was a strip of land and Ripple Street was in existence here by the 16th century, later becoming Ripple Side before taking its modern form, Ripple Road.

A newly created local burial board laid out the 31-acre Rippleside cemetery in 1886.

The Dagenham Idol was dug out of the marshes just south of Ripple Road in 1922. Because Dagenham had no museum in which the idol could be displayed it was taken to Colchester Castle Museum, where it remains today. A pinewood figure, probably from the Bronze Age, the idol may have been buried as a talisman to help crops grow – although since its redis­covery it has been rumoured to bring bad luck. The borough nowadays has the excellent Valence House Museum and after a popular period on loan here in 2011 a campaign was launched to make this the idol’s permanent home, so far without success.

Across the dual carriageway from Castle Green, the area is dominated by commercial estates and the rail sidings and depots of Ripple Lane rail terminal, which is nowadays a major transfer point for European freight.

South of the railway lie the recent resid­ential devel­op­ments of Barking Riverside and an ‘urban common’ called the Ripple nature reserve. A range of habitats has developed on this former indus­trial site now managed by the London Wildlife Trust, with orchids, grass snakes and harvest mice.

Postcode areas: Barking IG11 and Dagenham RM9