Dagenham can lay claim to being the oldest Saxon settlement in Essex.
The Ford Motor Company relocated its car manufacturing plant from Manchester to the Thames riverside location in 1931. Spread across 600 acres of former marshland, at its peak, the plant employed 40,000 people and was Europe's largest car plant.
Today, diesel engines are produced here with a greatly reduced workforce.
Another interesting fact is...
Crossness Pumping Station was constructed between 1854 and 1865 as part of Sir Joseph Bazelgette's redevelopment of the London sewage system. The city's muck was pumped into a 27 million gallon reservoir and then released into the Thames at high tide. However, Bazalgette's scheme was not a complete success, as the muck pouring into the Thames was not being carried out to sea by the action of the tides as was predicted.
To solve the problem, solid waste was separated from liquid, which was piped out into the deep waters of the estuary. The solids were loaded on to one of six sludge vessels, nicknamed ‘Bovril Boats', and dumped at sea. This practice continued unchanged until 1998.
These days, the sludge is treated to remove harmful substances and then 60% is recycled as fertilizer (called Thamesgrow) and 37% is incinerated and the electricity generated is fed back into the National Grid. Even the ash created in this process is recycled - it is made into breeze blocks for the construction industry.
Have you heard...?
Purfleet appears in Bram Stoker's Dracula. Today, the town is sandwiched between The Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, the only bridge that crosses the Thames between Tower Bridge and the sea, and Rainham Marshes.
The RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) recently acquired 870 acres of the Marshes used by the Ministry of Defense as a rifle range. They have decontaminated the site and left what is effectively the last extensive area of undeveloped wetlands beside the Thames as a bird sanctuary.
Discover great places to visit between Crossness to Purfleet