AskDefine | Define barking

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. present participle of bark


  1. Who or that barks or bark.
    barking dogs
  2. (British slang) Short for barking mad.
    He's going to run the marathon in this hot weather dressed as Donald Duck – he must be barking!


  1. The action of the verb to bark.
    Loud barking could be heard from the dog pound.

Proper noun

  1. A town in London.

Extensive Definition

Barking is a suburban town in east London, England and the main district of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. It is a retail and commercial centre situated in the west of the borough and east of Charing Cross.


The manor of Barking was the site of Barking Abbey, a nunnery founded in 666 by Eorcenwald, bishop of London, destroyed by the Danes and reconstructed about a hundred years later in 970 by King Edgar. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536, Barking Abbey was demolished: the parish church, St Margaret's stands upon its site, where some walling and foundations are all that otherwise remain. The Norman church of St Margaret was where Captain James Cook married Elizabeth Batts of Shadwell in 1762.
Barking was an urban district from 1894 and became a municipal borough in 1931. The Municipal Borough of Barking was abolished in 1965 along with the Municipal Borough of Dagenham and the area became part of the London Borough of Barking (renamed Barking and Dagenham in 1980).
Its name came from Anglo-Saxon Berecingas, meaning either "the settlement of the followers or descendants of a man called Bereca" or "the settlement by the birch trees".
Barking is sometimes cited as the origin of the phrase "barking mad", meaning "insane" or "intensely mad". This is attributed to the alleged existence of a medieval insane asylum attached to Barking Abbey. However, the phrase is not medieval, and first appeared only in the 20th century. A more likely derivation is from comparing an insane person to a mad dog.


Fishing was the most important industry in Barking from the 14th century, until the mid-19th. Salt water fishing from Barking began before 1320, when too fine nets were seized by City authorities, but expanded greatly from the 16th century. Fisher Street was named after the fishing community there. From about 1775 welled and dry smacks were used, mostly as cod boats. Fishermen sailed as far as Iceland in the summer. They served Billingsgate Fish Market in the City of London, and moored up at home in Barking Pool. Samuel Hewett, born on 7 December 1797, founded the Short Blue Fleet (England's biggest fishing fleet) based in Barking, and using smacks out of Barking and east coast ports. This fleet used gaff ketches which stayed out at sea for months, using ice for preservation of fish. This ice was produced by flooding local fields in winter. Fleeting involved fish being ferried from fishing smacks to steamer-carriers by little wooden ferry-boats. The rowers had to stand as the boats were piled high with fish-boxes. Rowers refused to wear their bulky cork lifejackets because it slowed down their rowing. At first the fast fifty-foot gaff cutters with great booms projecting beyond the sterns were employed to race the fish to port to get the best prices.
There was also a trade in live fish, using the welled smacks in which the central section of the hull, between two watertight bulkheads, was pierced to create a 'well' in which seawater could circulate. Cod caught live were lowered into this well, with their swim bladders pierced, and remained alive until the vessel returned to port, when they were transferred to semi-submerged 'chests,' effectively cages, which kept them alive until they were ready for sale. At this point they were pulled out and killed with a blow on the head before being despatched to market, where because of their freshness they commanded a high price. People who practised this method of fishing were known as 'codbangers.'
By 1850, there some 220 smacks, employing some 1,370 men and boys. The Barking boats of this period were typically 75 feet long carrying up to 50 tons. During the wars of the 17th and 18th century they were often used as fleet auxiliaries by the navy, based at nearby Chatham Dockyard. The opening of direct rail links between the North Sea ports and London meant it was quicker to transport fish by train from these ports straight to the capital rather than waiting for ships to take the longer route down the east coast and up the River Thames to Barking. In addition, by the 1850s the Thames was so severely polluted that fish kept in chests quickly died. Consequently, the Barking fishery slipped into decline in the second half of the nineteenth century. The decline was hastened by a storm in December 1863, off the Dutch coast, which caused the deaths of 60 men, and damage estimated at £6-7000. Many of its leading figures, including Hewett & Co, moved to Great Yarmouth and to Grimsby. By 1900, Barking had ceased to exist as a working fishing port, leaving only a few street and pub names as a reminder of its former importance to the town.

Other industries

Boat building has a long history at Barking, being used for the repair of some royal ships of Henry VIII. In 1848, 5 shipwrights, 4 rope- and line-makers, 6 sail-makers and 4 mast-, pump-, and block-makers are listed in a local trade directory. Hewett & Co continued in boat building and repair until 1899.
Other industries replaced the nautical trades, including jute spinning, paint and chemicals manufacture. By 1878 Daniel de Pass had opened the Barking Guano Works (later de Pass Fertilisers Ltd, part of Fisons) at Creekmouth. Creekmouth was also the site of the major Barking Power Station from 1925 until the 1970s, burning coal shipped in by river; the current station known as Barking is further east near Dagenham Dock. In the 20th century new industrial estates were established, and many local residents came to be employed in the car plant at Dagenham.

Thames disaster

On September 3rd, 1878 the iron ship Bywell Castle ran into the pleasure steamer in Galleons Reach, downstream of Barking Creek. The paddle steamer was returning from the coast, via Sheerness and Gravesend with nearly 800 day trippers on board. She broke in two and sank immediately, with the loss of over 600 lives, the highest ever single loss of civilian lives in UK territorial waters.
At this time there was no official body responsible for marine safety in the Thames, the subsequent enquiry resolved that the Marine Police Force, based at Wapping be equipped with steam launches, to replace their rowing boats and be better able to perform rescues.

London Riverside development

The London Riverside is a new development area in East London, and part of the larger Thames Gateway redevelopment zone.

Barking Riverside

The Barking Riverside development is part of the larger London Riverside development, which aims to regenerate the riverside area of East London through providing new homes, jobs, and services. Barking Riverside is a 350 acre brownfield land and therefore needs site clearance and the removal of overhead power lines before it can go ahead. Construction is due to begin in 2008, and the development is due to be completed around 2025. It will construct 10,000 new homes in the area, which will house around 25,000 people. New transport links will also be provided, including as the East London Transit and the extension to the Docklands Light Railway at Barking Riverside DLR station. The development will also provide new public facilities, creating "a variety of living, working, leisure and cultural amenities". Two new primary schools and one secondary school will also be built. Residents of Barking and Dagenham will also gain access to use of 2 kilometres Thames river front for the first time.
The current Barking Town Centre development has an overall strategy and several aims. The regeneration intends to achieve a more sustainable economy for Barking Town Centre by investing in new quality retail outlets and by creating a business centre. The regeneration aims to enable people to widen their employment prospects, mainly through creating new "retail and business accommodation" which will provide employment and increase the income for both existing and new residents. The regeneration also aims to improve people's skills. This is mainly achieved through the Barking Learning Centre; which aims to improve literacy, numeracy and other basic skills people may be lacking due to a previous lack of educational development. It currently acts as a borough-based learning facility.
The Barking Town Centre development also intends to improve the quality and range of housing within the area. The regeneration will aim to create 4,000 new homes in the Town Centre. 25% of these homes will be classed as intermediate housing, and will therefore be affordable for local residents to buy. The will also be 4,000 socially rented homes, making it easier for first time buyers and people with low incomes to rent a property. To help make the development more sustainable, all private sector homes are to meet the Government’s decency standards by 2010.
Plans for the new town square were unveiled in September 2007. The development is part of the Mayor of London's 100 Public Spaces and includes an 80-metre long arcade of chequerboard terrazzo, lit by 13 oversize gold coloured "chandeliers" created by Tom Dixon, former Head of Design at Habitat. There is also a fake ancient wall built by bricklayers Supervised by Shane moss,steve johnson and paul moss of excel brickwork using old bricks, crumbling white marble columns and battered sculptures, reclaimed from architectural salvage yards. The wall or "folly", known as the "Secret Garden", was unveiled on 11th September 2007.


Barking F.C. are a non-league side, and records indicate they were founded as early as 1865. The team merged with East Ham F.C. to form Barking & East Ham United in 2001. Barking has also produced numerous successful football players, including Bobby Moore and John Terry. This club later struggled and went out of business, but Barking F.C. was later reformed once again. Cricket, basketball and hockey are also popular sports in the area.

Notable people associated with Barking

Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1