Upney, Barking & Dagenham
A former village, now consumed within eastern Barking
Upney is something of a rarity in the geography of London: a place that has lost its identity despite having a station that bears its name – a name that means ‘higher island’, implying that it was once surrounded by marshes.
Most of Upney’s housing was built between the wars as part of the council’s slum clearance programme.
The dominant feature of the locality is Barking (originally Upney) hospital. Shortly before the First World War local people raised the money to found the hospital, and new blocks were added in the 1930s and 1960s. Most of the site was sold for residential development in 1999, although some specialist acute facilities have survived. The former maternity wing, opened in 1987, is now the Upney Lane centre – an outpatients and minor injuries unit, with a local branch of Moorfields eye hospital.
On the vacated land, Wilcon Homes built houses and maisonettes while Hanover Housing Association added flats for the elderly, with associated care facilities. The Wilcon housing – centred on Goodey Road, shown below – brought the new phenomenon of Jaguars and Mercedes (albeit often ‘previously owned’) parked in some residents’ drives.
A significant minority of residents are of Indian or Pakistani origin and, after English, Punjabi and Urdu are the most widely spoken languages.
Across Ripple Road is Eastbury House, now a National Trust museum. This grade I listed mansion was built for an Essex merchant during the reign of Elizabeth I. In the early 17th century the house attracted wealthy Catholic families who could practise their religion there in safety, and some Gunpowder Plot mythology has therefore become attached to it. Like many of London’s minor historic mansions, Eastbury is managed by the borough council and its opening times are painfully constricted.
Postcode area: Barking, IG11
Station: District line (zone 4)
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