Things to know from Barking and Dagenham – February 2022
Poor working-class neighborhood and gathering place for artists of all styles – in the case of our twin town Barking and Dagenham this is no contradiction. As part of the development of Greater London, it is planned to make offers here for artists from all over East London. This is an area with a population of 8 million.
The rapid rise in rents in the metropolis also affects many artists. Where they had affordable studios in old buildings, created their sculptures in old halls, office buildings have taken their place or nobly refurbished apartments have sprung up. In Barking and Dagenham, replacement offers are being made, with the support of the Mayor of London as a whole.
Artists’ quarter at the harbor
At the old Barking harbor, just next to the Ibis hotel we often use, the development is already well visible. Where there used to be scrap heaps and dilapidated warehouses, residential buildings have sprung up and the banks of the River Roding have been considerably spruced up.
Studios have been integrated into the residential areas, and some of the stores on the first floor serve as exhibition spaces. In addition, artisans offer their work and there are shopping opportunities for artists’ supplies. In the rooms of an old boatyard, there are exhibition and event spaces and even an artists’ café with a view of the water.
This is not the only area for artists to settle in our twin town. In Dagenham, for example, there’s the White House on Green Lane, which houses seven “artists in residence,” but also offers workshops and readings, makes films with visitors and stages plays.
Art is an industry – and is becoming increasingly important
Figures quickly make it clear that “art” is not a minor issue. For example, 110 million pounds are to be invested in the Dagenham Film Studios on the site of a former pharmaceutical factory on Yewtree Avenue. The prospect of 1,200 new jobs is on the horizon. And lest anyone dismiss this as a fairy tale about the future, 3.4 million has already been invested in the preliminary work.
In the future, the studios are expected to contribute 35 million pounds annually to the economy. But there’s still a lot of other work to be done, from hairdressers and beauticians to catering and transport companies.
The first productions are scheduled to begin this summer, and plans for the project have already been spun out. The BBC has already mentioned a total investment of 300 million.
No “Barking Dog” for two years
The “Barking Dog” pub opposite the train station is something like the obligatory meeting place in our twin city. And now this block of houses is to be demolished to make way for a new 28-story building. However, the Wetherspoon brewery group does not want to give up the Barking site. The pub is to reopen larger, more modern and more appealing as soon as construction progress permits.
On the floors above the pub, 198 new apartments are to be built, some of them at reduced rents like those in our social housing program. One of the main investors is the Railway Employees’ Pension Fund.
Youth Mayor Labella Anum has raised over £4,000 for victims of abuse and domestic violence in her one year in office. The money comes from peers who participated in bake sales, movie night, trivia night and other activities.
Cyclists from Barking Dagenham Cycling Club used their first joint ride of the year to launch a major clean-up campaign on the banks of the River Roding. In three hours, 150 bags of litter were collected.
The Barking & Dagenham and Witten twinning arrangement is one of the oldest existing contacts between a German town and an English town.