Gascoigne, Barking

A hitherto deprived electoral ward and housing estate in south Barking presently undergoing comprehensive regeneration

Hidden London: Gascoigne East

Dr John Bam­ber acquired the manor of Bifrons ear­ly in the 18th cen­tu­ry and on his death in 1753 own­er­ship passed to Sir Crisp Gas­coyne (or Gas­coigne), through his mar­riage to Bamber’s daugh­ter, Mar­garet. Gas­coyne was a landown­er in his own right and the first lord may­or of Lon­don to have lived at the Man­sion House. The manor house was a three-storey build­ing with a bow-front­ed two-storey wing at each end, which sug­gests that the Bifrons name may have come from the Latin, mean­ing ‘two-faced’.

Much of Bifrons manor was sold by Sir Crisp’s way­ward grand­son Bam­ber Gas­coyne to pay off gam­bling debts, and Bifrons manor house was demol­ished in about 1815. What remained of the estate descend­ed through mar­riage to the mar­quis­es of Sal­is­bury and was sold for build­ing devel­op­ment after 1889.

The 1960s Gas­coigne estate, sit­u­at­ed between cen­tral Bark­ing and the A13, was wide­ly regard­ed as one of the borough’s least desir­able address­es and orig­i­nal­ly con­sist­ed pri­mar­i­ly of 17 high-rise blocks. In the ear­ly 21st cen­tu­ry the coun­cil devot­ed con­sid­er­able effort to mak­ing improve­ments to the estate, as part of the over­all regen­er­a­tion of Bark­ing town cen­tre.

Sir Crisp Gascoyne (from Wikimedia Commons)
Sir Crisp Gas­coyne

How­ev­er, as has hap­pened else­where too, it was even­tu­al­ly accept­ed that the best solu­tion was for the whole estate to be razed and rebuilt from the ground up, start­ing with its east side before mov­ing on to Gas­coigne West. A CGI of the first phase of Gas­coigne East­’s rede­vel­op­ment is shown at the top of this arti­cle.

In May 2018 Bark­ing and Dagen­ham council’s whol­ly owned urban regen­er­a­tion com­pa­ny Be First announced the appoint­ment of archi­tects to deliv­er the next phas­es of the Gas­coigne East rebuild, known as the Weavers Quar­ter.

White Arkitek­ter will do the detailed design for phase two, which fea­tures mod­u­lar Scan­di­na­vian-style fam­i­ly apart­ments and small­er homes with com­mu­nal gar­dens. Phase three is planned to have tra­di­tion­al ter­races, mews hous­es and man­sion blocks.

In June 2018 FBM Archi­tects secured out­line plan­ning con­sent for the 850-home, £250-mil­lion Gas­coigne West project. Assum­ing the detailed plan­ning appli­ca­tion is approved on sched­ule, work should start in 2019.

At the end of the project, the new estate will con­sist of around three thou­sand homes, with the major­i­ty still avail­able for afford­able rent or shared own­er­ship.

The Gas­coigne ward is one of the most eth­ni­cal­ly mixed in the bor­ough. The two largest eth­nic sub­groups are those of white British and black African descent, which were almost exact­ly equal in size at the 2011 cen­sus. Employ­ment lev­els are very low. More than 15 per cent of homes are sin­gle-par­ent house­holds.

Gas­coigne pri­ma­ry school has a high lev­el of mobil­i­ty – an indi­ca­tion of the changes tak­ing place in the wider com­mu­ni­ty here. Many pupils speak Eng­lish as an addi­tion­al lan­guage. A 2013 Ofst­ed report not­ed that “the school strives to estab­lish close links with its com­mu­ni­ty and cel­e­brates its diver­si­ty. Alban­ian, Lithuan­ian and Por­tuguese groups use its facil­i­ties reg­u­lar­ly.”

Postcode area: Barking IG11
Population: 12,452 (2011 census)