Flashback: Romford’s ‘overspill’, radioactive dumping and inquest into Hornchurch death

PUBLISHED: 12:00 29 January 2017



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


Romford “overspill” families on the town’s waiting list of houses were not wanted in Brentwood, where it was hoped to build homes for at least 60 Romford families in 1957 on the 42-acre housing estate at Hanging Hill Lane, Hutton.

Brentwood’s decision caused a storm and a Brentwood Labour councillor, Mrs Helen Sparrow, publicly denounced the council’s majority decision as “all in the aid of snobbery, for they are not opposed to private development”.

The plan to house some of Romford’s overspill population at Brentwood because Romford had no sufficient land to build houses for hundreds on the council’s waiting list, depended on emergency action by the Minister of Housing and local government.

Romford was one of the six boroughs concerned in the project to build 465 houses at two adjoining sites at Hutton.

The minister had already approved a compulsory purchase order for the land, despite opposition from Brentwood


Havering’s campaign against radioactive dumping at Rainham was going right to the top.

Minister of State for the Environment Mr Dennis Howell was to be given a file of protest letters from Recorder readers, angered by plans to tip 6,000 tonnes of radio-active waste at a Ferry Lane site.

Recorder editor Mr Roy Mills handed over the letters to Hornchurch MP Mr Alan Lee Williams outside the House of Parliament.

It was estimated they represented about 900 Havering residents.


The father of one of two Hornchurch friends who died when their Metro car – transporting five people in total – hit a tree, called for the vehicle to be restricted to four people.

He made his call during an inquest – the day before, coincidentally, tests gave the car the worst rating in its class for occupant safety. Walthamstow Coroner’s Court heard how Mathew Mead, 17, of Mavis Grove, and James Poddington, 19, of Alma Avenue, died and three other friends were injured after the Metro hit the tree and turned on its side in Elm Grove, Hornchurch, in June 1996. During the inquest, Mathew’s father Steven questioned whether the car should be allowed to carry five adult passengers.

Speaking at the inquest, Pc Steven Gilbert said: “The Metro is a very old design, virtually the same as it was 15 years ago.

“Whether the two teenagers would have survived if they had been in another car, I cannot say.”


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