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The former home of the world’s biggest gasworks and now a docklands development area, situated west of Barking Creek and north of the Royal Albert Dock. The first intrusion into the hitherto empty East Ham Levels was the construction of the Northern Outfall Sewer in 1864, pouring raw waste into the Thames until the building of a treatment works 25 years later. The sewage works subsequently became the largest in the country and today serve a population of three million, treating over 200 million gallons a day. In 1870 the Gas, Light and Coke Company established its London base here. Housing was built for the workers and the whole 400-acre site was named Beckton after the governor of the company, Simon Adams Beck. At its peak, Beckton supplied gas to over four million Londoners, as well as manufacturing by-products such as creosote, fertilisers, inks and dyes. It was not until the switch to natural gas in the 1960s that the works were scaled down. The neighbouring marshland was formerly occupied by hundreds of garden allotments and was also the site of a prisoner of war camp during the Second World War. Docklands regeneration in Beckton has created a cluster of industrial and commercial ‘parks’ and thousands of new homes. Beckton is ethnically diverse, with large numbers of single people, lone parents and students.

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Beckton owes its existence to gasworks

Postal district: E6
Population: 13,112
Stations: Docklands Light Railway (Beckton and Beckton Park, both Zone 4)

Brewer's London Phrase & Fable

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