Case study: Dagenham

Dagenham forms part of London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. The area remained mostly undeveloped until 1921 when the London County Council began construction of the large Becontree estate. Significantly, in 1924 planning of the Ford Dagenham plant began. As a result the population of the area significantly increased during the 20th century, with the parish of Dagenham becoming an urban district in 1926 and a municipal borough in 1938. Notoriously known as Dagenham’s ‘heyday’ (Asthana, 2010), Ford Motors was significantly important for the culture and community of the area. The area was thriving in this industrial boom and at its peak in the 1950’s it employed more than 40,000. “Through seven decades, the Dagenham workers produced about 11 million vehicles and turned a corner of east London into a showpiece of British industrial culture” (Asthana, 2010).

But now, it is estimated to only employ a total of 4,000 workers (Zino, 2009) which has had a huge impact on the area culturally and economically. An expert in the transformation of the area Ian Vickers stated “the loss of manufacturing has hit hard and that was followed by the loss of some of  the borough’s focal points. The two working men’s clubs have both gone; the cinema closed; a vast number of pubs have closed or been demolished. Not many years ago the town had a number of long-established businesses and shops; these have also shut up, many replaced by fast food outlets, pawnbrokers and pound stores. The town has altered beyond recognition, both in its populace and its fabric. The borough in the 1991 census was 96% white British, in 2001 this had dropped to 81%. In a 2005 estimate, this was given as 73%, which extrapolated to 2010 is just around 65%. The white British have been replaced with a large influx of chiefly African and some Eastern European migrants. Most people who lived around the actual town centre in 1991 have ‘escaped’, as they see it, further out into Essex, Kent, Norfolk and Suffolk, and some even abroad.” (Asthana, 2010) He concluded by stating “there is much hardship here, too.”

Evidently, Dagenham has witnessed major cultural and demographic changes showing that the area is constantly evolving through time. To categorically define Dagenham would be impossible, but through discourse it is evident that the area is diverse in ethnicity and for a period of time it was the “heartland” of the British industrial industry.

Reference List
Asthana, A. (2010). Dagenham’s heyday: ‘It was all just one big happy family then’. Available at: (Accessed: 24 March 2015).

Zino, K. (2009). Milestones: Ford Dagenham Estate Celebrates 80 Years of Manufacturing. Available at: (Accessed: 24 March 2015).

Post by: Georgina Miles

Case study: Dagenham

Positive up rise in the East end driven by Hipsters.

The Guardian (Ed Cumming) recently published an article titled; Can hipsters save the world?

Super bowls: Irish twins Gary and Alan Keely, founders of the Cereal Killer café  in Brick Lane.

The article challenges critics of the new hipster trend and particularly Channel 4’s interview with Cereal Killer Cafe’s owners, Gary and Alan Keely (discussed in a previous post by Bonney). Cumming’s argues that despite recent criticisms of Twenty-first century ‘hipsterism’, “economist Douglas McWilliams, The Flat White Economy, suggests that hipsters, and the ecosystem surrounding them, represent the future of British prosperity. Not only are they greener and more ethical than the rest of us, but the industries in which they work are driving our economy. We mock them at our peril.”

“To walk from Old Street roundabout to Shoreditch High Street is to see an extraordinary mix of open-plan offices and galleries, Asian restaurants with fat queues outside and cafés that will mend your bicycle, sprinkled with shark-eyed estate agents and a few resilient kebab shops.”

East London and hipster culture are a demonstration that the 21st century (postmodernist) has moved away from mass production, where during the height of fordism in the early 20th century you would of seen mass trade and production near the docks of the East End, you now see a more intimate, more personal feel. With creative, artistic independent gallery spaces, vintage shops and coffee shops. Although Harvey theorises that postmodernist and capitalism creates this idea of the stranger in the city, East London encourages a more individualistic ideology and hipster consumerism is all about defying capitalism and celebrating independent projects and spaces, this is why East London has such a diverse and magical culture

“It can be tempting to see the world that has been created in this part of east London over the past five years as a model for modern cities. A highly skilled, creative international workforce, commuting by bicycle, thinking hard about where their meat comes from, buying second-hand clothes and selling complicated things to buyers around the world. If you close your eyes and try hard to put aside any prejudices about men with waxed moustaches riding penny-farthings, Shoreditch can appear like a kind of idealised cross between Stockholm and Silicon Valley. Plenty of people hate hipsters, but if more of us lived like them, the world could be greener, more left-wing and less preoccupied by greed”.

Douglas McWilliams believes that the new generation of earners (the hipster generation) is less focused on the economy and how much they’re earning/ spending but they’re more focused on what experiences they can gain and be involved in. He argues that the flat white economy is more driven by leisurely activities then investments and marketing.

Posted by: Sheldon

Positive up rise in the East end driven by Hipsters.

The transformation of East London: Canary Wharf.

article-0-19CEE1EA000005DC-452_964x640 article-0-19CEE1DD000005DC-646_964x763(now and then, Canary Wharf)

Canary Wharf was once the biggest port in the world, but today is a major business district, a giant trade centre, a hub of the global economy. The Canary Wharf that we know today began its construction in 1988, and after recovering from a financial crisis on its first years, it raised stronger than before. It is now one of the 20 largest concentration of employment in the country, resulting in more than 100,000 people working over the same area every day.


It has been said that the creation of Canary Wharf mainly brought positive aspects to the city; a cheaper area than ‘The City’ for businesses to move into, many job opportunities, the necessary investment to enhance the Jubilee Line and to bring to life the project of the DLR (Docklands Light Railway), plus cheaper residential areas which would make of East London a more popular, active, connected, and dynamic area.

But is this actually true?

From those 100,000 employees, Canary Wharf employs 44,500 bankers from the 16 biggest banks in the UK (FT research), and has been said to be the solution for corrupt bankers to solve their problems, such as american financial services Lehman Brothers. Thus it was referred by the political essayist Peter Gowan as ‘Wall Street’s Guantánamo’. In the words of journalist Owen Hatherly: ‘Canary Wharf has been for the last 20 years the most spectacular expression of London’s transformation into a city with levels of inequality that previous generations liked to think they’d fought a war to eliminate’.

After a bit of research it is easy to realise how contradictory opinions about this area are. Some believe the raise in job opportunities brought to the area a huge diversity, refurbished East London, and shed a new light. Others just see it as an inconvenience, a way of attracting more people to an already overcrowded city, where the provided services don’t match the the rhythm of this fast paced ‘Second City’, becoming an annoyance for the local commutes, and the local residential area.

Is Canary Wharf a success after all? Or will it become the city’s biggest myth?

Allen, K. (2015). Canary Wharf workforce quadruples in a decade – [online] Financial Times. Available at: [Accessed 1 Mar. 2015]., (2015). Local news, sport, leisure, jobs, homes, cars in Epping Forest, Waltham Forest, Wanstead &. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Mar. 2015].

Hatherley, O. (2012). The myth that Canary Wharf did east London any good | Owen Hatherley. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 27 Feb. 2015].

Post by: Marta Santillana

The transformation of East London: Canary Wharf.