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Dagenham

The meaning of «dagenham»

Dagenham (/ˈdæɡənəm/) is a town in East London, England, within the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. Dagenham is centred 11.5 miles (18.5 km) east of Charing Cross. It was historically a rural parish in the Becontree Hundred of Essex, stretching from Hainault Forest in the north to the River Thames in the south. Dagenham remained mostly undeveloped until 1921, when the London County Council began construction of the large Becontree housing estate. The population significantly increased as people moved to the new housing in the early 20th century, with the parish of Dagenham becoming Dagenham Urban District in 1926 and the Municipal Borough of Dagenham in 1938. Dagenham was chosen as a location for industrial activity and is perhaps most famous for being the location of the Ford Dagenham motor car plant where the Ford sewing machinists strike of 1968 took place. In 1965 Dagenham became part of Greater London when most of the historic parish become part of the London Borough of Barking and a small part to the north became part of the London Borough of Redbridge. Following the decline of industry, the southern part of Dagenham adjacent to the River Thames forms part of the London Riverside section of the Thames Gateway redevelopment area, with a new district of Beam Park under construction on the former site of Ford Dagenham.[2] At the 2011 Census, the total population of Dagenham, including the Becontree estate, was 106,247.[3]

Dagenham first appeared in a document (as Dæccanhaam) in a charter of Barking Abbey dating from 666 AD (though alternative 7th century dates have been suggested for the charter). The name almost certainly originated with a small farmstead, the "ham" or farm of a man called Daecca, as Dæccan hamm in Old English means home of a man called Dæcca.[4] The charter was made to reflect a transfer of land from Aethelred, kinsman of King Saebbi of Essex, to Barking Abbey.[5]

Dagenham has been historically defined by its Ancient Parish boundaries, which were subsequently re-used by the Municipal Borough of Dagenham up until 1965. The parish of Dagenham was formed in the medieval period to serve - along with parish of Barking (which included Great Ilford until the 19th century)[6] - the people of the huge manor of Barking, which was owned by the Nunnery of Barking Abbey. This reversed the usual situation where a parish would serve one or more manors. As with other manors, the area held by the declined over time, but the parish boundaries based on its former extent remained constant. Barking Abbey was dissolved in 1539.

Like most Essex Thames-side parishes, Dagenham was laid out on a N-S axis to give it a share of the marshes by the river, the agricultural land in the centre and the woods and commons on the poorer soils on the high ground in the north. Dagenham included a significant part of the now mostly lost Hainault Forest.

South of Dagenham was a low-lying area including the Dagenham levels and Dagenham Marsh, these having been subject to periodic flooding from the Thames, and flood banks were built to protect the farmland, culminating in defences and a flood gate on the Beam River being built in the 17th century by Dutch engineers.[7] In 1707 an exceptionally high tide swept away fourteen feet of embankment and flooded over 1,000 acres of land, the description given by Daniel Defoe when he visited eight years later giving the area inundated as being 5000 acres is today considered an exaggeration.[7] The "Dagenham Breach" widened over time to a width of 400 feet, allowing the Thames to strip the top layer of marsh clay from the flood plain and deposited it as a mud bank in the Thames where it became a danger to shipping. Despite various remedies, the breach was not securely filled and a further flood occurred in 1718 after which, under an act of parliament, over £40,000 of public money was spent on successfully closing the breach[7] roughly at the location of Dagenham Dock. The closure of the gap left behind a large lake, also known as "Dagenham Breach" which became a popular spot for anglers. The lake is still there but much of it has silted up or been filled in and is now surrounded by industry,[8] but parts can still be identified as the lakes to the north of Ford's plant and also where Breach Lane follows the now lost western outline of the lake.

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