Wednesday, 14 March 2018


Day 1 of my trip along the Roving River. I was a bit worried of not getting access to the mouth of the river but after having a good read of the Google map I noticed a road access along the Beckton Sewage treatment Works. Left Barking train station towards the Northern Circular and realised there was a pathway starting at the junction with Jenkins Lane. So I hurried my way first to the Thames and decided to start photographing on my way back. As soon as you pass Frankie & Beany's and the Cinemas you are in a new territory. An endless road access goes between the river and the fence of the  Sewage Plant. After a bend you have the option to take an alternative route through the Creekside Trail Natural reserve (which doesn't appear on the Google map) There I met a born and bred Cockney gent who was taking care of the site. We had a lovely chat about the East End and its visceral appeal despite its constant transformation.

I started taking pictures as soon as I arrived at the Barking Creek Barrier. The weather was grey, the birds enjoying the industrial wastes and I was making my way back to Barking. I decided to return into the Creekside Trail and realised there were quite a few alternative dead-end paths to explore. This was a good move as the terrain was slightly elevated and I had now a better view of the surrounding areas. The sun shone through the clouds, the dense vegetations turned gold, the rabbits ran free, what beautiful time to be there. To be there and to be alone! I didn't see any soul on my hike apart from the caretaker - what a bliss! Soon my happiness melted down as I realised that my camera had the wrong settings and therefore the results weren't sharp enough. I got this second hand Fuji X100S mirrorless camera few weeks ago and am planning to use it for the Phase 2 of my project. But for some reasons the focusing system of my digital rangefinder which I love was not set properly. I can't believe it happens to me after 30 years of experience and of constant sharp results! Anyway, took it on my chin, changed the settings and moved on praying for some decent images of my first leg. There was not way I would go back to the mouth of the river, didn't have time. And I couldn't have replaced the joy I experienced then, it would have been a draw back mentally.

Left the trail and approached the A13. Weather grew darker but only few drops. Whereas my side of the river was only occupied by the Sewage Systems it is not turning and industrial Estate sort of area, similar to the opposite East side of the river. Got closer to Barking and entered a revamped area of the banks despite some relics of boats buried in the mud. The path is now made of tarmac, it's clean and modern. Walk over the Lock and I contemplate a familiar view, typical of the new East-End. Cheap, versatile, colourful new buildings glued together. A new shiny Industrial estate sits between the Northern Circular and the river Roding on the West banks. New Wharfs, Quays and so forth are burgeoning on the East side. Either side no access to the river - it's all private (in Barking, can you believe it) In the middle - barges, typical. And there is a lot more to be built!

I eventually managed to enter a Court and access the river. Opposite me is a waste empty terrain under demolition, waiting to rise up. Again sitting between the river and the Northern Circular. A bit further there is a small bridge and I photograph another vast empty zone on the East side. I knew my move further East was a good one but I wasn't expecting such a rapid continuation in Barking of what I have witnessed happening in the East End in the last few years. Next leg and probably final one of my Roding River Special between Barking and Wanstead.

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