Nostalgia: Havering in history on October 18, 1953, 1973 and 1993
16:12 18 October 2013
This week in history - 60, 40 and 20 years ago.
Sixty years ago - 1953
A soldier who was held in Chinese prisoner-of-war camps for two years during the Korean War returned home and said he would have rather spent a decade in German camps.
Sgt AB Sykes, imprisoned by German soldiers during the Second World War, called conditions poor and said Chinese guards tried to convert people to communism.
Sgt Sykes lost two-and-a-half stone during his imprisonment. He also sparked a riot between prisoners and guards when he joked about the ideology.
As punishment, he was sent to a mud hut for two weeks.
A 21-year-old man was put on probation for three years after stealing a £28 bike and throwing it into Hornchurch’s River Ingrebourne.
The man, of no fixed address, also sawed its frame off.
He was remanded in custody two weeks earlier for stealing rose trees and dahlia flowers.
A police officer said at Romford Magistrates’ Court that it was a case of “deliberate and unnecessary damage”.
The report deemed the thief, who pleaded guilty, emotionally unstable.
The chairman called him “human driftwood” and said he needed to be rehabilitated.
Three men, including one from Romford, were charged in Greenwich with allegedly stealing £1,610 worth of brandy and £733 worth of tinned beef.
They were thought to have stolen the 72 cases of beef and 81 cases of brandy from docks.
One of them was further charged with taking 187 cases of ham, worth £2,236.
The prosecutor said two of the men were followed by police to the outskirts of Romford and the brandy was found in the back of a lorry.
The other items were discovered elsewhere.
Forty years ago - 1973
Thirty-six schoolchildren were gassed after a 20-year-old swimming pool attendant accidentally put a strong chemical into the pool.
The man said he felt “terrible” and that it was “lucky none of the children had been killed” after the mixture created a chlorine gas said to be similar to that used during the First World War.
He pulled three children to safety from the pool at the Mawney Road Baths, Romford, and 11 were taken to hospital in ambulances, with others travelling in a school bus.
The pupils, who had been “falling everywhere,” were still in their swimming gear.
The mix-up happened after the attendant, who had been in the job for six weeks, mistook a drum of Ferrotone for liquid soap.
Havering Council announced it would hold an inquiry into the incident.
A Havering Council workman “went up in flames” after an explosion in a Hornchurch road.
The man was taken to Oldchurch Hospital with serious burns after the accident, in Hacton Lane.
He had been cutting through a 132,000-volt cable.
The worker was helping to excavate cables leading to Clay Tye Road, North Ockendon.
A man was woken by a crash which turned out to be his parked car hitting a lamppost.
Michael Chittenden, of Hillrise Road, Collier Row, leapt out of bed only to see his vehicle, less than a year old, flatten the post.
The car had to be written off and camping equipment Mr Chittenden had bought for a holiday that weekend was damaged.
His vehicle had been hit in an accident involving two other cars.
Computer operator Mr Chittenden said he had packed the camping items in advance.
Twenty years ago - 1993
A disabled 60-year-old woman was nearly suffocated by robbers who pinned her down in her Harold Wood flat and stole £1,700.
The woman, who used a wheelchair and walked with a frame, woke when three robbers forced open the bolts of her bedroom patio door at 1am.
A masked person put his hand over her eyes and pushed her down, before pulling the covers over her head and pinning her to the bed.
The other two robbers ransacked the house for 15 minutes in search of money, before they all left.
The victim was so distressed she lay still for an hour before calling emergency services.
Six hundred schoolchildren were evacuated after a fire broke out in a storeroom in their Romford school, causing £20,000 worth of damage.
Firefighters arrived to tackle the blaze at Redden Court School, Cotswold Road, just before 3pm and managed to confine it to the one room.
Stock and silk screen printing equipment were ruined and the roof was damaged.
Headteacher June Colley said someone had admitted starting the fire and the London Fire Brigade said it was probing the incident as arson.
A heroic subpostmaster grabbed a robber who shot at him with a gun.
The 39-year-old victim made the brave move in his shop in Station Road, Harold Wood, after the man’s small sub-machine gun failed to go off.
The robber, accompanied by another person, had pulled the trigger after demanding money.
The postmaster held onto the man’s shoulders, but he broke free, fleeing empty-handed with his accomplice towards Church Road, Harold Hill. A getaway car may have been waiting there or in Arundel Road.