'Roding Riviera' sounds like a phrase you'd muster up with so much tongue in cheek, it'd pop out the other side.
Yet bus trips of Barking & Dagenham starting at the end of this month aim to flaunt the very best of this sometimes-sneered-at part of east London — proving it is both dripping in history, and has a dynamic future.
Be First is organising the bus tours; it's the urban regeneration arm of Barking and Dagenham Council, and behind much of the regeneration in the area. Yes, the free whistle-stop tours are a marketing stunt, but a shrewd one. The bus will pull up at historical treasures such as Barking Abbey — once one of the most important nunneries in the country — and the Elizabethan Eastbury Manor House, rumoured to be linked to the Gunpowder Plot.
But the angle here is tilted firmly towards the future. Also on the itinerary are the new Barking Riverside station, A House for Artists (a bougie new flexible living and work space for creatives) and UCL PEARL — the humungous warehouse research laboratory where London is road tested. The iconic Smithfield and Billingsgate markets are also set to move to the area in the near future — lending it extra cultural/economic heft.
A few years back, 'Peckham' was a byword for naff — and look at it now, a vibrant backdrop for romcoms, a new age Notting Hill. Somewhere has to be next, and just maybe it's the Roding Riveira.
The first 'Roding Riviera' bus tour is on 30 May, and is free to go on — book here