The Wantz stream

To the East part of Dagenham is an area known as Eastbrook. The name coming from the Eastbrook family, who in turn probably took their name from the local stream, then called the east brook. The family were in Dagenham from the 1280s until the 17th century, however the name lives on.

The stream on the other hand, has had several name changes. The longest lived of its many names seems to have been a corruption on the the medieval ‘Wythenbroke’, Wise (or Wisdom) Water. This lasted until the name became East Brook and this in turn lasted until sometime in the 17th -18th century when the name changed to the Wantz stream. Wantz coming from the crossroads near the stream source, The Four Wantz corner, Wantz being a corruption of Wents, an old common name for four way junctions in Essex and Kent.

By the early 1950s the source of the stream and the major part running though the Four Wantz & Eastbrook areas was little more than a polluted stinking trickle, so it was culverted and now lives inside a large drain not surfacing until it reaches the junction of Church Lane and Ballards Road.

The surface portion of the stream is now reasonably clean (obligatory mud burrowing shopping trollies aside) and home to the usual small freshwater plants and creatures including the crested newt. The stream runs above surface for about 1km before joining with the Beam river to the east of Lower Mardyke avenue.

The Beam river then continues to Dagenham Breach and the Thames ending the run of one of East London’s shortest streams and Dagenham’s only (partially) lost waterway.
(photos to follow when the camera behaves itself)

4 thoughts on “The Wantz stream”

  1. Recently returned to Maldon,Essex after absence of 30 years and got lost. What was for years, Oak Wantz (crossroads) but in truth a main road A414 between Danbury and Maldon turning left [on a easterly] route is now a roundabout called Oak Crossroads; losing the WANTZ much to my chargrin. Still it supprts the theory of wantz being a crossroads or ‘T’ road.

  2. Sorry it took a while before your comment showed up, it was lost in a sea of spam.

    Thanks for the note on the wantz cross road theory. I only knew of one other and that is in Kent. It does seem to be a rather localised addition to the language, just Essex and Kent. I wonder how it came about.

  3. The Wantz stream, or “RIVER”, as we little ones used to call it way back then, in the 1960’s…………We used to put on our wellies, grab our fishing net on the end of a bamboo cane, and spend hours on end standing in the shallow water catching small sticklebacks and anything else that moved…………………….This little stream was the focal point of most of the young kids from the new adjoining housing estate. The part of the Wantz stream that ran along through the vegetable allotments had large drainage pipes from neighbouring housing in Fritzands Lane and Cresent Road branching into it. These pipes, about 1 metre in diameter, were just large enough for us to climb into, and with the aid of an old “Ever Ready” torch, go for many hundreds of metres underground and explore the “Centre of the Earth”, ………or so we thought.
    On returning to “good old Dagenham” a few months ago, I found that much more extensive developement has occured over the years, and the open part of the Wantz Stream that I have many happy memories of, has now been piped underground and gone forever…………………..
    Only now, and with use of the internet, am I more knowledgeable with regard to this little stream and how much history surrounds it………..
    if only we could put on our wellies again and step back in time……..wouldn’t it be great…………………”Long live Dagenham”.

  4. Hi, interesting that about its meaning in Essex and Kent, but the Victoria House Roundabout in Hadleigh/Thundersley, Essex, with four exits to Benfleet, London, Rayleigh and Southend-on-Sea used to be called the Four Wantz Way. Thanks.

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