History of Barking's Northbury House revealed

northbury house

Northbury House in North Street, Barking. - Credit: LBBD Archives

Eastbury Manor House is well known, but Westbury and Northbury manors have left only their names behind, mainly as two of the earliest council schools built in the borough.


A sketch of Westbury painted by Frogley the local historian in about 1900. - Credit: LBBD Archives

Westbury was built in 1904 and is now one of Ripple Primary's sites. Northbury, built as North Street School in 1895, was renamed after Northbury House which was sadly demolished in 1936 to make way for the London Road extension. It has left behind an interesting history.

The site of Northbury was an ancient tenement in the manor of Barking, managed by Barking Abbey for centuries. 

It was originally named Fulks after a local land owing family in the middle ages. It eventually passed to Thomas Fanshawe who in 1628 became the new "lord of the Manor" in Barking.  

Fulks House was on the east side of North Street on the northern corner of Nelson Street - incorporated into London Road.

Sir Edward Hulse sold Fawkes separately from the manor in 1773. Then it was occupied as St Margaret’s Vicarage before the new vicarage was built in Ripple Road in 1794. 

It was eventually redeveloped and became known as Northbury House in the nineteenth century. 

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Christopher Spashett, one of Barking’s fishing smack owners, lived in Northbury House in 1841.

A fishing smack was a traditional boat used for fishing during the nineteenth century.

It was a bustling household with his wife Mary, their six children and half a dozen fishing apprentices residing there. 

The Spashett’s story reflects the rise and fall of the fishing industry in Barking.

In 1851, the family were still living at Northbury with one servant and Christopher who employed 40 men and boys.

Three years later he was facing bankruptcy. His occupation latterly shows diversification - to mast and block maker and merchant. By 1854, he had moved to Gorleston in Norfolk.

He was one of the first of many Barking fishing men to move there when the railways arrived. 

In 1861, Northbury became a school for young ladies run by the Tuck sisters Emma, Charlotte, and Louisa.

Among their seven pupils were three sisters with the unusual surname of Jamrach. These were the daughters of Charles Jamrach, the owner of Jamrach Animal Emporium in London. 

During this period a well provided fresh, spring water and by 1867 Northbury had a new gas supply. 

From 1868, and for almost half a century, Northbury belonged to Barking’s Quash family. 

John Thomas another local smack-owner and his family filled the house. Along with his wife Mary and numerous children there was his father-in-law, a nurse and two domestic servants.  

John Quash had retired by 1881, but still lived at Northbury with his family, by then John Junior kept a Hosier, Hatter & Glover Shop at 10 North Street.

This shop was recorded by local historian Frogley as becoming the base of the Industrial Co-operative Society in Barking in 1889.

Supported by the Stratford Co-op it expanded into Bonnet Box a milliners’ shop, next door, owned by two sisters called Read.  

In 1900, the Co-operative Society erected a new building on this enlarged site, with a beautifully glazed first floor. It was crowned by their symbol of an industrious community working for each other - the beehive - which can still be seen adorning the building today. The old co-op will hopefully receive some loving restoration work over the coming year.

John Quash Junior was the captain of Barking’s volunteer fire brigade for fifteen years. Younger brother William had even greater success as an amateur football player.

He competed in the 1900 Olympic Games for Great Britain in Paris where he won a gold medal as a member of the Upton Park club team.

“Bill” was an all-round sportsman and is believed to have been one of the founder members of Barking Cricket Club in 1901.  

By 1917, Northbury had been taken over by the notorious Cape asbestos company, it became known as Cape Lodge, a local club, before it made way for the London Road.

Barking’s National Lottery Heritage Fund Volunteers have been researching Northbury House as part of their town centre heritage project.