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Re-enacting our hisory

PUBLISHED: 14:08 15 May 2008 | UPDATED: 09:10 11 August 2010

Part of the re-enactment of the arrival of the Roman Emperor Claudius

Part of the re-enactment of the arrival of the Roman Emperor Claudius

WHEN Barking was granted its charter in 1931, the stage was set for eleven days of celebrations and exhibitions in the middle of worldwide economic turmoil. Barking Urban District, which used to be the civil parish of Barking until 1895, defied the gloom

WHEN Barking was granted its charter in 1931, the stage was set for eleven days of celebrations and exhibitions in the middle of worldwide economic turmoil.

Barking Urban District, which used to be the civil parish of Barking until 1895, defied the gloom of the Great Depression after the stock market crash of Black Tuesday in 1929, and celebrated its Charter with great fanfare.

A visit from H.R.H. Prince George added glamour to the events in October 1931, which also saw the staging of an Industrial Exhibition and a Historical Pageant.

These were organised by committees and sub-committees to 'bring the Charter home".

The royal guest reassured the residents of Barking in their celebratory mood and optimism.

He wrote: "That Barking is determined to face the economic difficulties through which our Country is now passing with a progressive policy is clear by the way the Industrial Exhibition and Historical Pageant has been organised by the borough."

The Charter established, for the first time in the history of Barking, that the residents were "associated with the title of the governing body."

The Book of Barking, a souvenir of the celebrations, neatly documents the ceremonial highlights of the event.

It lists the Corporation Regalia's gift to the town, which include the silver gilt Mace, a gold badge with the new Arms inscribed upon it, the Mayor's gold badge and gold chain.

An exhibition hall was built and the eleven days of celebrations commenced on October 1, with the opening of the exhibition, an amusement park and a street procession of decorated vehicles.

On Monday, October 5, H.R.H. Prince George finally presented the Charter at Town Hall.

This was followed by a royal opening of the Historical Pageant, and a fireworks display at night.

It was an important symbolic moment in the history of Barking and one can only imagine how grand and festive the atmosphere must have been.

With the dire circumstances of the depression lurking in the background of everyday life, one would have expected a more prudent approach to celebrations of any kind to have set in.

The Pageant included crucial scenes from the events and episodes in History that defined Barking, from the arrival of the Roman Emperor Claudius on his way to Colchester, to the foundation of Barking Abbey, its destruction, rebuilding and its dissolution in 1539.

The audience was also treated to impressions of an Elizabethan Barking, to re-enactments of King Charles I playing bowls in the borough, and of the Great Barking Fair of 1746.

Master of the Pageant, Frank Lascelles, wrote: "Dream of those days and the great characters who lived in them, of the Kings and Queens who came to this place, of the Saints whose home it was, of the famous men who once were roaming in these fields.

"Then think ahead a hundred years or more, and remember that each one of you, however humble, can in your own short life make a mark upon your generation, and so, upon the countless generations of Barking to come."

To residents today these words, however sentimental they may sound, are a reminder that history does not stand still.


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