Heritage Schools Case Study: Our Dagenham - How was the area?

Summary: Year 9 students explored the area using maps and aerial photographs before undertaking a trail to develop their awareness of continuity and change in Dagenham.

Where: Eastbrook Comprehensive School, Dagenham

Who: Year 9

Intended outcomes

  • Better understanding of their local built environment
  • Understanding of how to recognise architectural features from different periods
  • Increased awareness of heritage assets: local and national listing and Heritage at Risk

Students explored the area using maps and aerial photographs from the Historic England Archive and going on a ‘virtual’ tour before undertaking a trail to develop their awareness of continuity and change in Dagenham.They followed a route partly by mini bus and partly on foot and included a visit inside Dagenham Parish Church to view the roll of honour (subject of a subsequent lesson) and the churchyard to see First World War and Second World War graves.They were given a range of architectural features to look for and discussed why some buildings were left when the Becontree Estate was built in the 1920s. They noted how their school building had changed and considered the implications of a local building being on the Heritage at Risk register and what they could do to improve the local environment.This forms part of a wider enquiry into how national events have shaped the local built environment and vice versa e.g. the development of Ford’s in Dagenham in the 1930s.

What we did

  • Discussion of significance of built environment and conservation issues
  • Created a timeline
  • Researched the national and local list
  • Mapped and photographed range of building types
  • Created a trail


  • Learning about the national and local heritage list
  • Organising a day off timetable
  • Taking children on a trail around busy streets


  • Students could explain why some buildings remain while others were demolished
  • Students could present a case for conserving some buildings above others
  • Students created a visual timeline that they have added to as their course has progressed given them a clearer grasp of chronology and how their local area fits into the national story

Resources and web links

Next steps/extension activities

  • Part of a year long heritage project that covers how the area was affected by the Industrial Revolution, building of the Becontree Estate, the World Wars, social change and migration.