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Nostalgia: Havering in History from March 22 of 1953, 1973 and 1993

PUBLISHED: 09:45 22 March 2013

The Recorder front page from March 20, 1953

The Recorder front page from March 20, 1953

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This week in history - 20, 40 and 60 years ago.

The Romford and Hornchurch Recorder front page from March 23, 1973The Romford and Hornchurch Recorder front page from March 23, 1973

1953

A heated debate in the Romford Council chamber saw members banging their desks and accusing each other of lying.

It followed an investigation into whether two councillors had breached council rules by writing to the press about a supposedly confidential incident during a committee meeting.

The anonymous letters written to the press, said Cllr Ridley (Labour), were a “pack of lies”.

Romford Recorder front page from March 19, 1993Romford Recorder front page from March 19, 1993

But the two councillors accused of writing them – Cllrs Bartaby and Brown – denied involvement and said they were being scapegoated, and suggested Cllr Ridley himself was the culprit.

This accusation was “hotly denied by Cllr Ridley, who, jumping up, banged his desk to emphasise his protest”.

It was agreed to take no further action in relation to the alleged breach of the council’s “confidentiality of committee matters” standing order.

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The suicide of Winifred Richardson, of Tawny Avenue, Upminster, remained a mystery following an inquest.

State registered nurse Mrs Richardson, 37, had apparently been “without worry of any kind” and “looking forward to the return home of her husband, who had been away at sea since January”.

But after worried neighbours noticed her absence, the tragic woman was discovered by police in her own kitchen, having seemingly poisoned herself with coal gas.

The verdict returned was that she had killed herself – but neither neighbours nor family nor her husband could find any reason why.

Mrs Richardson had not left a note.

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Four chickens burnt to death thanks to a careless smoker.

Someone had dropped a burning cigarette end, setting fire to a chicken shed at the home of Robert White in Aylsham Lane, Harold Hill.

1973

Plans to house young offenders in Elm Park had attracted “strong protest” from neighbours.

Among them was George Ellis, chairman of the Elm Park Residents’ Association, who said there was “great fear” that “anyone escaping from one of these places could possibly cause a danger to people living nearby”.

Havering Council had put aside £215,000 for the home, intended for Suttons Lane, next to St George’s Hospital. It was hoped that a government grant would meet the rest of the cost.

And plans to house single mothers in Hazel Rise, Hornchurch, were also the subject of a 32-signature petition of protest – allegedly because of concerns that the house earmarked for conversion would be “overcrowded”.

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“Hundreds of youngsters” were expected to crowd into Romford Central Library to see Jimmy Savile.

He was in town to record one of his “Speakeasy” programmes for the BBC, as well as helping launch a Havering Council campaign – to “bring young people into focus”.

The campaign was called “18 and All That”.

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A dramatic fire just yards away from Romford Market Place injured two teenagers and damaged six cars and a garage.

It began with an explosion in Romford Market Garage that quickly filled the building with toxic smoke from burning fibreglass.

Brave firefighters used breathing apparatus to get into the building and pull out several cylinders of acetylene gas – which, had they been allowed to overheat, were in danger of “blowing the building sky-high”.

The 17-year-olds, Laurence Easton of Hornchurch and Adrian Abel of Harold Hill, were taken to Oldchurch Hospital. Adrian had been detained but was said to be “progressing satisfactorily”.

1993

Rainham International Station was the hot topic at Havering Council.

The government had greenlighted the Channel Tunnel rail link through east London – and Rainham was among the towns bidding for its own stop on the line. Dartford was its chief rival.

Plans for Rainham International were “a core element of the council’s adventurous plans for Havering Riverside”.

And a council team had just made a “whistlestop” tour of France to study its own high-speed train line, the TGV, and assess such a station’s likely effect on Rainham.

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A long-running row over the length of boys’ hair at a Romford secondary school had spilled onto TV screens.

Marshalls Park’s decision to suspend two boys because of their long locks, revealed in the Recorder the previous year, had now invited a probe by education secretary John Patten and coverage from a pair of TV documentaries.

The chairman of the board of governors, Ron Baker, said: “The school has made the decision that male pupils should have their hair no longer than collar-length, and it is a key disciplinary issue.

“Any responsible parent would agree with this system because they believe in discipline.”

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The church of St Augustine of Canterbury, in Birkbeck Road, Rush Green, was gutted by fire after a likely electrical fault.

With an organ that was “burned beyond repair” and a treasured statue of St Augustine that had been broken in half by falling timber, it looked grim for the church.

But stoic Father Bryan Whittaker said it would be “business as usual” for the congregation on Sunday. Services would take place in the church hall and the vicarage until the damage could be repaired.

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