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Imagining the past in Barking & Dagenham

Local residents are invited to an audio visual exhibition at the Ripple Centre by year 5 pupils from Ripple Junior School. 11am – 12:30am, Friday 18th March 2011

Rt Hon Margaret Hodge, MP for Barking will launch the exhibition.

This exhibition is the result of a series of local history and intergenerational workshops with Year 5 pupils at Ripple Junior School.

The workshops made local history more exiting for children and promoted community cohesion and civic pride; the children were engaged through historical sources related to the area and through interviewing local people from their community.

The pupils were asked to become local historians for the day, so they could imagine what it was like to live and work in their community in the past.

In the morning young people researched and used primary sources to investigate the past, by using maps, photographs, sound recordings and archive footage they were introduced to the history of their community and trained to meet their historical witnesses’.

The young historians were trained in oral history interviewing to ask relevant historical questions.


Mollie Hook who has lived in Dagenham since the 1930’s said:
“I really enjoyed doing the workshops. I was surprised how very interested the children were in all aspects of my life. It’s a totally different world to now and I think that’s what interested them”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Mollie explains that computer games were too modern for her childhood

Ken Elliot a welder at Samuel Williams and Sons said:
“We can only pass on what we know and hope that people learn from it”

Maureen Wooderson who has worked and lived in Barking and Dagenham all her life said:
“I thought the kids these days only live for today, but they wasn’t at Ripple school, they were genuinely interested in our past”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Maureen talks about equal pay

To listen to all the Imagining the past in Barking & Dagenham audio clips click here.


Here are some comments from the children about what they learnt, nearly all the pupils said their favourite thing was meeting older people from their community:

“I learnt that people started work at the age of 14, people worked on the docks and took individual sacks out of the boat, some people got knocked into the river and women got paid less than men”
Paaras Sahota, age 10

“I learnt that the docks were the Nazis’ main target in WW2. That dockers used to transport weird cargo like rhinos”
Tamim Abdul Halim, age 9

“I have learnt that the past may seem amazing but it’s the people’s life we want to learn about”
Kiran Bamotra, age 10

“I learnt about industry in the area. I didn’t realise how thriving it was. I also learnt about ‘Beanos’ and about Samuel Williams.”
Roya Rahimi, age 9


The year 5 pupils from Ripple Junior School have put together art work and creative writing to imagine what the past was like in their community. This work will be on display at the Ripple Centre, along with sound clips from their oral history interviews.

Eastside Community Heritage would like to thank Barking and Dagenham residents who gave up their time to inspire the young historians and the teachers and pupils of Ripple Junior School who welcomed them so warmly, the combination made the workshops remarkably successful.

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