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Barking, 1878

In this guest post, National Railway Museum volunteer Philip James takes us back into an era outside project coverage, and to an accident not usually seen by the project – a member of the public, but not a passenger. He also puts the accident location in its local context, something important for the project. Originally this was supplied as part of Monday’s post, but for reasons of space we wanted to separate it out – and we think it stands in its own right. Our thanks as ever to Philip for turning up an unusual case for us!


In my earlier posts, I looked at accidents at Goodmayes and Chadwell Heath that by chance had fallen to me to transcribe. This time I will deal with an accident from an earlier era that has come to my attention from another source.

This accident happened in 1878 at my local station, Barking, about a mile from where I live. The casualty was not a railway worker and the details come from a non-railway source. I am not sure what official accident reporting arrangements would have existed at the time or how they would have dealt with an accident involving a member of the public.[1]

The Accident at Barking

Not having an accident report to refer to I have had to use other sources and the information they furnish is incomplete. I am therefore not able to present the details the same format as the reports used in the Railway Work, Life & Death Project.

The Accident

I first came across this accident in a book on another subject, Barking Pubs Past and Present[2] by Tony Clifford. The author described a pub close to the station as follows.

“The Spotted Dog[3] (15 Longbridge Road) was built about 1870 and extensively altered in 1884. Edward Maynard was the first landlord; he was very deaf and was killed by a train while meeting a party of school-children from Plaistow who were to be carried by horse-brakes to a garden entertainment in Ilford.”

Another information source is the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, Local Studies Information Sheet No. 10. This also describes the accident.

“There was a pair of ‘kissing gates’ for pedestrians, and several fatal accidents occurred because of people slipping through the pedestrian gates when the main gates were closed. One victim in 1878 was Edward Maynard, landlord of the nearby Spotted Dog pub, who was deaf and unaware of the train coming.  In 1884 a footbridge was built over the track and the pedestrian gates closed.”

There may be other information sources such as local newspapers and coroners’ inquests but a potential obstacle is that in the late 1960s, a fire believed to be an arson attack, destroyed Barking Library and much valuable research material may have been lost.

Barking Station

To understand this accident, the reader needs to be aware that Barking Station and the area around it has changed out of all recognition over the years. In 1878, there was a level crossing on East Street, one of many on the line and the railway was double track. Circa 1906, the level crossing was replaced by a bridge, the work coinciding with the arrival of the District Line underground at Barking and an enlargement of the station. Later, a tramway[4] from Barking to Ilford ran over the bridge. At this time, the station buildings and several adjacent were demolished to facilitate the new works.

Circa 1960 further extensive work was carried out involving the construction of flyovers, a dive under, widening of the road bridge and a large new station building. Buildings near the station have been altered or replaced to facilitate entry from the new road level. These and other changes mean it is possible to pass the station without realising the original road level was much lower and a level crossing once existed.

High Speed 1, the Channel Tunnel Rail Link is also present but out of sight and sound well below ground level. A ventilation shaft can be seen about half a mile west of the station and this was the point where tunnel drives from Stratford and Dagenham Dock converged.[5]

Historical Barking

Historically Barking was a fishing port. Its ships would enter the River Thames from the River Roding and Barking Creek and hence operate in the North Sea. For a long time, it was the first town of any size to the east of London. It might also be the only town of any size a traveller heading east would reach as Essex was once largely rural. That said, places such as Tilbury Fort go back to Tudor times and beyond so there has always been some life east of Barking.

Barking once had a large Abbey but today only the Curfew Tower survives intact. During the dissolution of the monasteries, the buildings were often dismantled and the materials sold for reuse. The curfew tower may have acted as a sort of checkout point for those removing stone to have their goods checked, priced and paid for hence its survival. The remains of the other abbey buildings are visible but may not represent the actual layout of the buildings due to changes made in earlier ‘restoration’ work.

In the Barking area, you will find references to Northbury, Westbury and Eastbury. The ‘bury’ is an ancient reference to a fort or fortified place and the three places mentioned were once part of the abbey estate, probably farms supplying the abbey.

Several buildings in the Barking and Dagenham area are of historical interest. Valance House is now a museum and Eastbury Manor House, run by the National Trust dates back to Tudor times. Contrary to some rumours, its links to the Gunpowder Plot are tenuous and largely coincidental. Other old buildings that would have been of interest to historians have not survived.

Highwayman Dick Turpin who also operated with the Gregory Gang (or Essex Gang) has connections with Barking. According to the Ilford Recorder (and other sources), “on December 19 1734 Dick Turpin and friends robbed the Skinner family of Longbridge Farm, Barking, of items valued at some £300, “tossing money to crowds of bystanders” as they escaped through Barking – all part of Dick’s robbing the rich to give to the poor, no doubt.” This exploit would have taken him past the end of the road where I live although it would then have been farmland or forest.

Turpin was also known to be responsible for cattle rustling in a then rural Plaistow, now a built-up area and Epping Forest where he and his gang operated once extended as far west as Whitechapel.[6]

Barking was once much larger than today as adjacent modern-day towns such as Ilford were once wards of Barking. This explains the curious naming of Barkingside, these days part of Redbridge but once literally the ‘side of Barking’.

When the railway reached Barking it would have been on the eastern edge of the town with the prevailing east to west alignment being locally more like south east to north west at the station site. In later years, houses built to the east of the level crossing became part of what was termed unofficially ‘New Barking’ and the level crossing the boundary between old and new parts of the town. It may have had a social demarcation status similar to that sometimes attributed to the level crossing in modern-day Frinton on Sea.

Barking and its Railways

The railways at Barking could be the subject of several volumes so I will limit my account to the main events. The London, Tilbury and Southend Railway (LTSR) originally ran from Forest Gate Junction to Barking and hence to Tilbury and Southend.[7] It reached Barking in April 1854.

Trains from Fenchurch Street would run via Stratford using tracks and Stations owned by its rivals, the London and Blackwall Railway and the Eastern Counties Railway. The LTSR would not reach its own territory until after Forest Gate Junction and for historical reasons the majority of directors on its board were appointed by the other companies mentioned. This complicated the early life of the company until it eventually became part of the Midland Railway.

Several additions were made to the initial line to give it the route we recognise today. The cut off line from Gas Factory Junction (near Bow) to Barking via Plaistow, avoided the congestion at Stratford. The route from Barking to Pitsea via Upminster provided a more direct route to Southend and the addition of Shoeburyness made that the eastern extremity, 38 miles from London. The branch from Upminster to Grays via Ockenden was once part of the line that goes from Upminster to Romford. It was built following an agreement with the Eastern Counties Railway to give that company access to Tilbury. The Romford section was separated after the Underground reached Upminster.

The eastern section of the District Line between Barking and Whitechapel was built by the LTSR and when quadrupled east of Bromley by Bow, allowed separation of its trains from those of the District. There were also connections to the North London Railway near Bromley and some trains from that company would terminate at Plaistow using bay platforms, one now disused, that still exist.

The takeover by the Midland Railway facilitated the completion of the modern-day Gospel Oak to Barking Line.[8] This line comprises the Tottenham and Hampstead Junction Railway, the Tottenham and Forest Gate Railway and the section of the LTSR from Forest Gate to Barking. In times past, trains could run to St Pancras at the western end and from Woodgrange Park to East Ham[9] at the eastern end but the junctions needed to allow this have since been removed.

At the time of the 1878 accident, much of this expansion had yet to happen and Barking was a relatively simple station to the east of the junction of the lines from London. The 1906 changes resulted in a complex flat junction east of the station that would be a source of operating complexity in later years until resolved by the 1960 rebuild.

The 1960 work also resulted in the almost complete physical separation of the Underground from British Rail in this part of London. In earlier years physical links and track sharing between the two systems were more common and widespread than now.

In modern times, the LTSR is operated as C2C[10] and is officially the Essex Thameside Franchise. Its terminus Fenchurch Street, was built by the London and Blackwall Railway and also used by the Eastern Counties Railway but now LTSR / C2C is the sole user.


The photographs below are by the author except where stated. Some were taken during the period of lockdown necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Readers can be assured that the pictures were taken while on route to or from essential shopping and social distancing rules were meticulously observed at all times.

Barking station before 1906.

Picture B1 by an unknown photographer shows Barking Station looking north prior to the 1906 reconstruction. Probably taken from the signal box near the level crossing. The tracks crossing the road now serve platforms six and seven in the rebuilt station. The original platforms have brick faces unlike the later ones with concrete finishes.


Barking signal box and 'Railway Tavern' pub

Picture B2 by an unknown photographer shows the fore mentioned signal box. The building behind is the Railway Tavern, also known as the Peto Arms. Sir Samuel Morton Peto was instrumental in the construction of the line.[11] Both buildings were demolished during the 1906 reconstruction.[12] Other buildings shown were also demolished long ago. This view faces south west.


Barking station pre-1906

Picture B3 by an unknown photographer shows Barking Station looking north west. The level crossing is clearly visible and the station buildings are on the west or ‘Old Barking’ side of the crossing. They would have been demolished to make space for platform eight and a siding. The signal box is out of picture to the left.


Barking station pre-1906

Picture B4 by an unknown photographer shows the level crossing facing Barking Station looking east north east. The shops on the left and house on the right were demolished as part of the 1906 work. The Spotted Dog pub is in the middle distance but the ground floor is now below the new street level. Also, an extra floor has been added where to roof is now. The houses beyond still exist but have been converted to shops. Most have a new frontage to accommodate the change in road level. None of these pictures show a ‘kissing gate’ or footbridge so they probably predate the 1878 accident.


Pictures B5, B6 and B7 by unknown photographers probably date from before the 1960 rebuilding or from soon after it has commenced. They show the station building at the new road level. In B5, the Spotted Dog is visible in the background at extreme left with a top floor that exists today.


Barking station today

Pictures B8 and B9 show the station as it is today. B8 is above the tracks that once approached the level crossing which would have been directly below the bridge in the background. The track on the left is the westbound district line, platform six and that on the right the down Tilbury line, platform seven. The road bridge has five double track width spans available for railway use and at least one more now blocked. The back of the Spotted Dog is visible in B9.[13]


Coming up from under.

Picture B10 by an unknown photographer shows a District train emerging from the dive under built circa 1960 and about to enter platform six. This is the site of the former level crossing.


Barking station today, platform level.

Picture B11 was taken on 4 August 2007. It shows class 150123[14] standing in platform seven about to depart for Gospel Oak. The former level crossing was below the bridge and to the left of the train. These services normally use platform one but can use platforms seven and eight if necessary. When the extension to Barking Riverside opens, they will all use these platforms. 150123 was later transferred to the Great Western and is now with Northern Rail.


Picture B12 was taken from roughly where the signal box mentioned earlier stood although probably from above its roof level. The Peto Arms would have been to the right. It shows the site of the now simplified Barking East Junction with the Tilbury lines on the right and those to Upminster curving away to the left. Before the 1960 rebuilding, the District tracks used platforms four and five in the middle of the station with the line from St Pancras to their east and the line from Fenchurch Street on the west. There was a complex flat junction on this side of the station and plenty of scope for conflicting movements.


Barking station today.

Picture B13 courtesy of the London Evening Standard shows the station frontage today with the Spotted Dog on the right in the background.


Barking's curfew tower.

Picture B14 by an unknown photographer shows the Curfew Tower. The Abbey remains are out of sight to the right. St Margaret’s Church on the left is where Captain Cook was married.


Philip James


[1] HMRI were established in 1840 and their powers greatly extended in 1871.

[2] Barking and Dagenham Libraries Department 1995, ISBN 0900325259.

[3] Not to be confused with the Barking Dog, a more recent creation and nearby.

[4] Sometimes disused rails from the tramway become exposed during roadworks.



[7] The name Southend is derived from South end of Prittlewell, a town just north of Southend.

[8] Sometimes referred to as the GOBLIN.

[9] A disused bay platform for St Pancras trains still exists.

[10] C2C could mean something like City to Coast. The meaning has always been left vague.




[14] The P in the unit number indicates parcels can be carried in this vehicle.

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