Banjo Estate | Photo: Valence House Museum

Between May 2019 and December 2019, Thames Festival Trust met with over 30 local people and ran scented reminiscence sessions to help get them talking about remembered scents and stinks. Volunteers were trained to interview and record people to find out more in depth memories.

There are 12 oral histories in the collection and 5 podcasts, interviewing people including Billingsgate Market workers who share the smells of the fishing trade, to local Barking retired factory workers, jute mill weavers and lightermen reminiscing life working with different cargo along the River Roding. From people in their eighties and nineties who have lived in Barking all their lives, to a young spoken word poet who moved from Nigeria and compares the contrasting smells of these two homes.

Each person tells a unique story of the different layers of smells and stinks that reveal to us more information about what life in Barking felt and smelt like in the past.

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