In January 1894, the weather brought record low temperatures measuring -13C. The weather was so cold that Dagenham lake was used by the metropolitan branch of the National Skating Association to hold quarter mile races for amateur skaters. The weather offered extreme snow again in 1955, only this time it was the as late as the 17th May. The heavy snow that was reported in Dagenham on that day meant that the temperature measured at 7pm was only 0C.
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Until relatively recent history, Dagenham has been a small place. In 666AD it only receives a mention as a farm in the charter of Barking Abbey and it was only large enough to warrant a chaplain in 1205. It was not until the building of the vast Becontree Council Estate in the 1920’s that Dagenham grew beyond the size of a village. The resulting population explosion led to Dagenham being added to the District Line of the London Underground and the relocation of The Ford Motor Company’s headquarters in the UK from Trafford, in Manchester to a new site in the town. The Ford plant in Dagenham is now the largest car plant in Europe. Dagenham was once the home to five manor houses dating back to the thirteenth century. The only one that remains is Valence House which now acts as the borough’s museum and art gallery.
Ground breaking comedians Peter Cook and Dudley Moore came from Dagenham. They used the town as the hometown for their creations Pete and Dud. Dagenham is also the birthplace of John Farnham, who emigrated to Australia with his family in 1959 and found fame as one of Australia's biggest rock stars.