Flashback: A hypnotist, a pensioner’s blazing home and victory for a new hospital to be built

PUBLISHED: 10:00 28 January 2018

40-years-ago. Picture: Romford Library

40-years-ago. Picture: Romford Library

Romford Library

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


A 21-year-old Romford shop assistant was hypnotised to believe that she was a Hollywood film actress.

The woman, Joan Wheele, was taking orders from 23-year-old hypnotist Peter Champion.

In the small front room of his Jubilee Avenue, Romford, bungalow, the ex-Royal Liberty School boy set himself up as a professional hypnotist.

With no degrees or training and his only knowledge from book, Peter, a former trainee store manager, was convinced he could cure by hypnosis.

He claimed to have stopped Mrs Wheele smoking when she “really didn’t want to give it up”.

He also claimed to have stopped a 19-year-old woman feeling excessively ticklish and to have cured her of self-consciousness.

As well as these, he claimed to have cured anything from excessive drinking to unexplained fear - “but only with full co-operation from the subject”.


Neighbours kicked in the front door of a pensioner’s blazing home in a desperate bid to save her but they were beaten back by raging flames.

Firefighters found the body of Mrs Emily Gutteridge, 86, lying on a bedroom floor in her bungalow after they had battled through fire and smoke trying to reach her.

Her cat and dog also perished in the blaze.

Neighbours spotted smoke rising from Mrs Gutteridge’s North Road, Havering-atte-Bower home.

A neighbour said: “We kicked in the door to try and get to her but couldn’t get through the smoke and flames.”

Firefighters from Romford and Hainault tackled the blaze.

A fire brigade spokesman said: “Some firefighters went in with breathing apparetus to try and save Mrs Gutteridge but it was too late. She was already dead.”


Champagne corks popped as battling campaigners victory of a 10-year fight to keep front line emergency health care in Romford within travelling distance of people in all areas of the borough and beyond.

Dramatic news of the success came in the House of Commons when health secretary Frank Dobson gave the government’s blessing to a new £100million general hospital to be built at Oldchurch Park.

Shortly before Havering’s three MPs, who had urged a review of hospital plans for the area, had been summoned to a meeting with health minister Alan Milburn to be told the good news.

Romford MP Eileen Gordan said: “This has taken a long time and we are delighted Mr Dobson has accepted the recommendations of the report.

“It is a shame that some of those who began this fight to save Oldchurch services have passed on but I’m sure that they would have been proud.”


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Romford Recorder visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Romford Recorder staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Romford Recorder account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Romford News Stories

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

Havering is changing, we all know that, but as Romford’s MP I am determined to make sure that any changes will improve our community and not prove detrimental.

Yesterday, 15:00

Local historian Prof Ged Martin uncovers a stately home

Yesterday, 12:00

War on plastic is the final straw for Queen

Fri, 17:30

Two teenagers have been arrested at addresses in Dagenham and Hornchurch following the fatal stabbing of 17-year-old Hasan Ozcan.

Fri, 17:12

The Recorder wants to test your knowledge with a weekly Friday quiz featuring topics from the last seven days.

Fri, 15:43

A man who was rescued from a drain in Romford, crawled for hours through the Romford sewer system, calling out desperately for help.


Window and conservatory specialist Ken Rhodes talks about the possibilities for brightening up your home for the new year, and with their home improvement finance deals it’s possible for everyone to make some changes

Lisa and Jennie are cousins who grew up in the borough. Their grandmother, ‘Nanny Fish’ was a huge part of their lives, and while she had dementia and increasing needs, she really benefited from having care in her nephew’s loving home. This experience was the inspiration for Lisa and Jennie to set-up their own home care service.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

Show Job Lists

News from your area


Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now