Joining us for today’s interview about Dagenham is Lisa Roullier, Delivery Officer for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Libraries. Lisa and her department do an amazing job especially with Pen to Print which encourages new writers, provides mentors and leads to many of them publishing their first novels. She is wonderfully supportive, endlessly enthusiastic and I wish I’d known her when I was starting out as a writer.
ES: Apart from working for LBBD, what is your connection to Dagenham?
LR: I moved to Dagenham when I was just 4 years old. My parents
considered it “the country” and said we were moving from North Woolwich
to pastures green!
ES: How do you think the rest of the country views Dagenham and do you think this view is justified?
LR: It’s hard to say – Dagenham was well known as a centre for industry which gave it a positive spin years ago. Some residents have seen a
decline in the area and moved away whilst others move here for more
opportunities and stability.
ES: What do you love about the place?
LR: Anywhere you go in the world, most people have heard of Dagenham. I
personally love the heritage and history of the Borough, especially the
changes over the last 100 years. It’s fascinating to see how it’s grown and
developed from a tiny country village. And 2021 is, of course, the Centenary of the Becontree Estate.
ES: Tell us something about Dagenham you don’t think many people are aware of.
LR: In 1953, Sterling works produced nearly half a million submachine guns
in exclusive government contracts that gave British forces state-of-the-art
weapons. Some of them were decommissioned and used by the
Stormtroopers in Star Wars!
ES: Wow! I didn’t know that! Now, did you know that the term Banjo is peculiar to Dagenham? Have you or anyone you know ever lived in one?
LR: I didn’t until recently! I never lived in a banjo but only a few doors away
from one. I used to ride my bike and my mum would say “Only to the banjo
and back” so she know she could keep me in eyeshot. Banjo is a regular
used word to me, the same as Road or Street.
ES: What’s your fondest memory of Dagenham?
LR: I have loads of fond memories but my first was viewing our house in
Wren Road and I was so excited to look through the letterbox and see an
ES: Dagenham has undergone huge change in the last 20-30 years. What do you miss most about the old Dagenham?
LR: I think miss the civic pride in the area – the respect there was, in the
parks, for example with park-keepers making sure you didn’t tread on the
grass etc. Everything looked kept and uniformed, with residents taking care
of everything with pride alongside their council properties.
ES: As someone who puts on loads of events for the Borough – including the upcoming Readfest which I am really looking forward to – do you wish they’d bring back the Town Show?
LR: The Town Show was a community event that felt a little dated. I do like
the new Summer of Festivals as there is something for everyone, with
popular artists and performers. I think the Council really try to involve local
residents in some festivals.
ES: Now for the serious part…Fish and chips or pie and mash?
LR: Pie and Mash all day long!
ES: Dagenham Essex or Dagenham East London?
LR: Dagenham, Essex.
Thank you, Lisa!
For more information about Pen to Print and the Readfest and to book
tickets go to: https://pentoprint.org