Flashback: Bread prices, gunmen terrorise shop workers and the Havering Riverside development


40-years-ago - Credit: Romford Library

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


It was Black Monday for Britons this time in 1956.

The price of bread was set to rise sharply for consumers, from 1.5d to 2.5d for a large white loaf, according to where they shopped in Romford, Hornchurch, Dagenham and Upminster.The reasons for the jump and variations in price were the 15-year-old subsidy – 1.5d on the national loaf was due to come off at the weekend.

It was also due to a week of bitter warfare, nationally and locally, between bakeries which had resulted in failure to agree on a common price. Big shops in London which favoured 10d as the new price for the large unwrapped loaf, said: “We are only passing on the subsidy.”

Small businesses said: “We must charge 11d for our large white loaf or go out of business like 4,000 other small bakers since the war.”


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A shop manager and his assistant went through 90 minutes of terror when gunmen raided an Upminster jewellers.

The raiders, armed with sawn-off shotguns, held Nigel Brill hostage while they forced his assistant Lynda Holmes to clear stock from the shelves.

Then the men made a cool getaway – with jewellery worth £13,000 in tartan holdalls.

The drama began at about 3pm when one robber went into the Pyefinch shop in St Mary’s Lane on the pretence of wanting a coin mounted.

Suddenly, he produced a shotgun and within seconds he was joined by the other man in the shop.

The terrifying ordeal lasted an hour and a half.

Mr Brill, 31, said: “They were vicious.

“They threatened to shoot us and I believe they would have done.

“I know a bit about guns so I know theirs were real.

“It happened so suddenly, I’m just glad it’s over.”

Mrs Holmes, 34, was too shaken to return to work the following day.


At least 4,000 jobs could have been created if the proposals for the Havering Riverside development site in Rainham had become reality.

Plans included a manufacturing factory, a hotel, fast food outlet and service station on the land, either side of the new A13 highway that was being built across marshes.

The idea was to finally spark investment and development in the area, following years of speculation and a number of thwarted schemes, which had included suggestions for an international theme park and film studio complex, among others.

Havering Council was working with AMEC Developments and English Partnerships, a government agency, to prepare a planning application ready for October.

Outline proposals were going to feature 50 acres of land owned by the council itself, either side of the new A13, which was due to be opened in 1997.