Flashback: Flat building, conmen posing as council workers and a lightning strike

PUBLISHED: 10:00 13 August 2017

A look back at the biggest local stories from this day 20, 40 and 60 years ago.


Chairman of Romford’s Building and Town Planning Committee William Pike, was going to press his committee at the next meeting to support a suggested scheme to build a six-storey block of flats on the Highfield Road Estate.

The land was earmarked provisionally for maisonettes.

At the same meeting, Mr Pike was expected to ask the borough surveyor to find suitable sites where an 11-storey block could be built.

Revealing his proposals to the Recorder, he said: “I think the erection of multi-storey flats is the only answer to the acute housing problem in Romford.

“We are near the end of our building programme and there is no hope at all that our housing requirements will be met.

“At least 1,200 applicants will be left on the housing list at the completion of present housing schemes.

“Eleven-storey flats are the answer.”


An alert was raised in Havering to combat conmen posing as council workers who were believed to be on the lookout for empty houses to raid.

Havering Council launched a tough new campaign in a bid to beat the conmen by issuing 900 of its officials with special identity cards.

The war on swindlers came just as police issued a warning to residents to beware of people calling at homes, claiming to be from the council.

Ch Supt Alan Ratcliffe said: “Residents should always check the identity of a caller who claims to be an official.

“Never pay money to anyone until you are sure who the caller is.”


A massive bolt of lightning turned a councillor’s home into a fireball, then ricocheted across the road, nearly killing a hsuband and wife.

Labour councillor Chris Purnell, his wife Rosina, their 19-year-old son Richard and two guests, fled the house after being woken up by a neighbour at their Graysfield Drive, Rainham, home, in the early hours.

But the violent bolt of lightning had not completed its trail of destruction.

The home of Lesley and 
Ken Hanson, opposite, was 
hit as the lightning ripped through the Purnells’ home and arced across the road via a lamp post.

The lightning tore through 
the Hansons’ bedroom window, missing the couple’s heads 
by inches and seconds after 
Mr Hanson had removed a 
pair of metal plates he wore to help his circulation, from his hands.

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