Flashback: A visit from the Queen, a heartbreaking collision and a wartime-style evacuation

20 years ago.

20 years ago. - Credit: Romford Library

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

20 years ago.

20 years ago. - Credit: Romford Library


Cheering Romford crowds, which swelled to thousands as darkness fell, were rewarded by a fleeting glimpse of a smiling, waving Queen and Prince Philip as they returned to Bucking-ham Palace after their triumphal visit to Brentwood and Harlow.

Hundreds of flag-waving pupils from two Harold Hill schools which closed for the afternoon, and youngsters from Harold Wood Hall, an Essex County Council home, were among those with special places on the route.

As the crested Royal car rounded the traffic island at Gallows Corner – 20 minutes late – Prince Philip, sitting forward on the near side, waved and smiled.

20 years ago.

20 years ago. - Credit: Romford Library

The Queen, radiant but obviously tired, sat back smilingly acknowledging the acclamation of the crowd.


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A mum screamed in horror at a bus driver to stop as they drove past an accident in which her son had died.

The 19-year-old died after he was thrown into the windscreen of the van he was driving after a collision involving a giant earth digger.

The accident, happened just yards from the spot where an 18-year-old girl was killed two weeks before.

The young man’s mother said: “Someone said there had been an accident so I turned away, not wanting to look – and to my horror saw it was his.

“I got off the bus and saw that the road was covered in blood.”

The accident happened outside Pinch Contractors, Upper Rainham Road, Hornchurch, as the teenager from Elm Park, was on his way to Stapleford Abbotts, where he worked.

In his spare time, he enjoyed listening to music and he often acted as a disc jockey at parties.

His disco equipment was in the back of the van.


Thousands of Rainham residents were set for a wartime-style evacuation from their homes, after a massive Second World War bomb was discovered.

The A13’s Purfleet to Dagenham stretch was due to be closed from around 3am until at least 5pm.

Nearly 5,000 residents living within a 1,000 metre radius was going to be evacuated, while army bomb disposal experts made the 250kg German bomb safe.

Havering Council sent more than 80 workers to knock on the doors of residents and notify them of the evacuation,

A special leaflet had been issued, advising people to stay with relatives, ensure pets were safe and homes secured, as a precaution against opportunist thieves.