Becontree Estate designed after Spanish Flu 'helped prevent Covid deaths'
- Credit: Valence House Museum/LBBD Archive
The design of Europe’s largest council estate, built in the aftermath of the Spanish flu pandemic, may have protected people living in the “Covid triangle”.
More than 100,000 people live on the Becontree Estate in Dagenham, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.
During the height of the second wave of coronavirus, Barking and Dagenham consistently recorded the highest infection rates in the country and the council estate was singled out as a particular hotspot.
The borough has seen 531 coronavirus-related deaths up to March 5 and more than 23,000 confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
However, while infection rates have been extremely high, deaths have been lower than other boroughs in the "triangle" - which encompasses Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge and Newham and was coined after the boroughs were hit hard by coronavirus.
You may also want to watch:
Redbridge has recorded 843 Covid-related deaths, Newham 762 and Havering 897.
The Becontree Estate accounts for almost half of Barking and Dagenham’s population, yet it has seen fewer Covid-related fatalities according to ONS data, with 107 up until February 1.
- 1 Drivers escape injury in Dagenham crash
- 2 Eid prayer recited outside Barking Town Hall as groups call for more worship spaces
- 3 Man, 20, found stabbed in Barking
- 4 Antisocial behaviour patrols in Barking and Dagenham
- 5 Groomed girl speaks out after 'dangerous' Barking dealer who dealt Class A drugs in East End is jailed
- 6 Former east London police sergeant sentenced after pleading guilty to harassment
- 7 'Singling out developers to sort out the cladding scandal'
- 8 'Love Island promo' spotted filming in Barking
- 9 Teen 'robbed at knifepoint' in Chadwell Heath
- 10 Man stabbed in front of son, 12, in 'unprovoked, violent' attack in Barking
Council leader Darren Rodwell said the estate’s low-rise design, large open spaces and individual homes meant people could isolate more easily.
Cllr Rodwell, who lives on the estate, said: “The people who live on Becontree are good working class Dagenham residents who have those key worker jobs. Cases exploded during the second wave because they had no choice but to travel into those hotspots on public transport. Many had to go to work because they couldn’t afford not to.”
At the time it was built, Becontree was the most ambitious public housing project in the world, with the families of soldiers returning from the First World War granted priority.
Most were relocated from the slums of the East End, where Spanish Flu was rife, but Becontree offered residents gardens, indoor toilets and dozens of open public spaces.
In March 2020, the borough had 14,000 families on Universal Credit, today it is nearly 40,000.
Ilajn Cicek, who runs the Royal Fish Bar on the estate, said: “You can see people are struggling more. People who used to come in three times a week come in once a month now. People have less money. We all hope it gets better soon.”
Two thirds of the homes on the Becontree Estate are no longer under council control, having been purchased under Right to Buy.