When Metropolitan District Railway services started here in 1902, the station was simply called Dagenham and and had opened over a decade before in 1885 on the mainline rail route to Southend. The MDR services didn’t last long and were withdrawn in 1905, before returning in 1932. It gained its present name in 1949 and saw British Rail services cease in 1962. In 1958 there was a crash on the British Rail lines that saw 10 people killed as a danger signal was missed due to foggy conditions.
Much of the station dates from a rebuild in 1932 that marked the return of the District Line services. While some tube stations from this period are quite striking, architecturally Dagenham East is fairly non-descript.
The Pub: The Cross Keys, Crown Street, Dagenham, RM10 9UH
It’s a little bit of a walk to the Cross Keys. Walk south down Rainham Street South after leaving the station, turning off onto Crown Street. On the map, Crown Street appears to stop for a bit, this is where there is a low-rise ’70s housing estate. Walk along the pedestrian path skirting this and you’ll find yourself back on Crown Street and looking at the Cross Keys pub. With the Mock Tudor frontage, it has the air of a village pub.
The interior carries on with a similar theme, with wooden beams throughout the place. The pub is basically one large room, with the bar in the middle. There is a pool table as well as my old favourite, a quiz machine. Given that it is slightly off the beaten track, I think this is probably quite a locals pub. That said, I don’t mean that in a negative way because it wasn’t all eyes on us when we arrived. I do once again add the disclaimer we visited on a Saturday afternoon, so there may be a different vibe in the evenings. Sadly there were no ales so we went for Kronenberg. East London seems to be a rather ale free zone unfortunately.
This is a perfectly reasonable place to have a pint. While I wouldn’t recommend making the trek solely for the pub(unless you live locally), the area around it might make it worth a trip. The pub is on the edge of what is called Dagenham Village, complete with a charming church dating back to the 12th century, as highlighted by my friends at the ever excellent Londonist website. As they put it, it ‘is one of those odd architectural juxtapositions that London throws up, an ancient village preserved in aspic on the outskirts of the world’s largest council estate.’ If you walk the route I did from the station, passing construction sites on the main road taking advantage of the property boom and then the low rise estates I described, it is really surprising to stumble on a small area that is so far removed from whats around it.
(The pub has no website)