Oral History: Barbara Wilmott
At one time we had smells - from the Thames my mum used to say - and I think that got a bit worrisome that did. It was a stink. Yeah I can remember those smells. It’s when the wind was in this way. But it didn’t really trouble me, it didn’t affect my health or anything, it was just part of life See, when you’re younger you accept things don’t you?
Barbara Wilmott has lived in Dagenham nearly all of her life and is now 90 years old. She remembers life growing up and living in the area since the early 1930s, including the different smells she can remember, good and bad. She shares the details of domestic everyday life growing up in Dagenham, including being evacuated as a child during the war to Norfolk and her school. She remembers the carnival, swimming at Valence Park and ballroom dancing. Barbara describes her working life and the prejudice experienced at work in London for her Dagenham accent. She reflects on how the community of Barking and Dagenham has changed over the years and the developments in her personal life and the local area.
Barbara shares fragranced memories, from smells and aromas associated with domestic cleaning and cooking to an old favourite perfume ‘Midnight in Paris.’ She recalls local unpleasant smells from sewage, factory pollution and manure remembered in Barking and Dagenham’s air.