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Articles > Barking & Dagenham > What's beneath our feet?

Eastbrookend Country Park,  Dagenham TQ509855

Account compiled by Gerald Lucy for Essex Field Club website

Created in 1995, Eastbrookend Country Park is situated in the ‘Dagenham Corridor’, a strip of green belt land that separates Dagenham from Romford. The site  of the country park was previously used for quarrying sand and gravel and the numerous lakes were former pits which, in the 1920s provided aggregate for the giant Becontree housing estate nearby. Gravel was still being extracted in 1977 when a dragline  operator found several fine Palaeolithic hand-axes in a pit (TQ 509 855) close to what was then May & Baker’s pharmaceutical factory.

South of the railway, and accessible by a footbridge, is Boyer’s Lake (TQ 505 852) which is also a former gravel pit. During its working life this pit also yielded Palaeolithic flint tools including six hand-axes which are now in the Museum of  London. Adjacent to Boyer’s Lake is the Beam Valley, an important area for nature conservation which is shortly to be developed as an extension to the Country Park.

Eastbrookend Country Park is of geological interest as it straddles two adjacent terraces of the Thames. North of the railway is the higher Lynch Hill/Corbets Tey Terrace and the gravel of this terrace is thought to have been laid down by the river about  300,000 years ago (Marine Isotope Stages 10-8). South of the railway, and at a lower elevation, is the younger Taplow/Mucking Terrace and the gravel here is about 200,000 years old (Marine Isotope Stages 8-6). From the grid references given in the reports  of the finds the flint tools appear to have been associated with two separate terraces and are therefore of different ages. However, it is most likely that they all came from the gravel of the lower terrace. The makers of these tools were tribes of nomadic  Neanderthal hunters exploiting the wildlife on what was then the shoreline of the Thames.

The Country Park has a visitor Centre known as the Millennium Centre.

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