In 1881, Young Robert Ireland arrived from Scotland with his wife, Sarah and their children, Emma, Margaret, Ellen, Robert and John. They settled in the village and Robert went to work as a labourer in Lawes Fertiliser Factory.
They lived at No.49 and went on to have three more children: Jennie, Henry and Kate. Robert continued working at Lawes, labouring away from dawn to dusk.
The village grew rapidly during this period. There were now a total of 50 cottages which were mostly inhabited at this time. In total there were approximately 144 children living in the village, including 12 who were under a year old. The village ‘green’ and the riverbank must have been alive with children’s laughter during the warm, summer months.
Life for the Ireland family, in those early days, would have been harsh. There was no running water, just a well at the back of the houses. Houses would have been lit by gaslight or oil lamps at this time and were typical “two-up two-down”- comprising living room, kitchen and two bedrooms at the top of the stairs. The youngest babies likely slept with their parents but the other children would top and tail in their beds. Very often it would be a case of ‘first come first served’, meaning that whoever got to bed quickest had the best spot to sleep. This is, of course, supposing that they actually had beds to sleep on. Very often it would be straw or ticking mattresses on the floor. The younger children attended Creekmouth School, in the middle block of cottages, facing the river. The ‘babies’, from the age of 4, would be taught in one schoolroom with the other infants. The older children would be taught next door, in the adjoining room.
Sarah and her neighbours bought their daily supplies from the widowed Mary Ann Smith’s little shop, set up in the front room of her cottage where she lived with her three children: Charles, George and Louisa. If the young housewives needed anything other than basic supplies they would have to travel the two miles to Barking Town, either by trudging along the muddy riverbank or, if they were lucky enough, cadging a lift from another of the villagers who were lucky enough to own a rowing boat. The boat would take them up the River Roding on the tide, whence they would do their shopping and be back in time to gain another lift, downriver, as the tide turned.
Through the years the extended Ireland family continued to live in the village. They were such an established family that the end of the row of cottages, where they lived, became known as “Ireland’s Corner”.
In 1957, the last of the Ireland family left the village – and Ireland’s Corner – behind, and moved into their plush new house on Thames View Estate, complete with indoor bathroom, fitted kitchen and electricity.
Members of the Ireland family are still in touch with the Creekmouth Preservation Society, to this day.