Flashback: A tragic train accident, new police technology and the National Lottery

20-years-ago. Picture: Romford Library

20-years-ago. Picture: Romford Library - Credit: Romford Library

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

20-years-ago. Picture: Romford Library

20-years-ago. Picture: Romford Library - Credit: Romford Library


Eight passengers were killed and 50 injured when a steam train ploughed into the back of another train, wrecking six compartments, between Dagenham East and Dagenham Heathway stations in the fog.

Late at night, many passengers were still trapped, including the guard whose legs were crushed by the buffers of the rear engine.

Firefighters tried frantically to free passengers in the rear compartment above and below the smashed engine.

20-years-ago. Picture: Romford Library

20-years-ago. Picture: Romford Library - Credit: Romford Library

Four ambulances and a 10-seater coach rushed from Romford to the tragic scene.

A state of emergency was called in Dagenham and 30 fire engines, 25 ambulances and 10 coaches sped to the rescue.

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There were around 80 Essex paramedics among the hundreds of helpers.

40-years-ago. Picture: Romford Library

40-years-ago. Picture: Romford Library - Credit: Romford Library


Top secret machines using space-age technology were launched into action in Romford and were helping police cut crime.

Police claimed the machines were “foolproof” and had already helped them trap intruders.

The “thief taker” machines were given to Havering’s police after being tested by the Home Office and were described as being “solid weapons against crime”.

Acting Ch Sup at Romford Alan Ratcliffe said: “This new way of fighting crime is foolproof and we shall use it to stem burglaries in the borough.

“Through its use we have already made three arrests in the Gidea Park area and are investigating crimes involving thousands of pounds.

“How the machines work is top secret.

“Burglaries are a permanent problem and with this device, success in solving them can be almost instantaneous.

“Now we can use our police officers to patrol rather than keep them involved in watching premises.

“I am confident that this will help reduce crime.

“As the system becomes known to be foolproof, thieves will stay clear.”


Shock figures showed that Havering received the second lowest amount of National Lottery money in the country.

The borough’s grants totalled a paltry £751,046 since 1995 – £346million less than the most successful area.

Havering Council was hoping to employ someone to deal with Lottery applications, in a bid to improve the situation.

Westminster came top in London and in the country, making 264 successful bids amounting to £347,466,560 – equal to £1,987.64 for every resident in the borough.

In comparison, Havering received 24 grants totalling £751,046, which equates to just £3.27 per head.

A Havering Council spokesman said: “We are working on a large number of projects for Lottery funding.

“We are hoping to employ someone to deal specifically with the complex process of applying for funding.”

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