Flashback: Clairvoyant helps with missing person hunt, Belgium shoppers wanted and subway attack

40-years-ago

40-years-ago - Credit: Romford Library

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

1956:

A Romford woman who claimed to be a clairvoyant foretold where the body of three-year-old Boyd Fearnon was, after one of the biggest-ever searches for a missing person.

The toddler’s body was found under bushes in the River Rom at the exact spot the clairvoyant, 59-year-old Clara Maud Palmer, of George Street, Romford, predicted he would be found.

She said: “I have had this gift since childhood and am told these things while sitting very quietly or in dreams.


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“Last night, I was overcome by a queer feeling about this poor little boy - and I began seeing things.

“I saw, as I am seeing now, the sheen of water and I knew he was there.”

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1976:

Havering councillor Johnny Johnston was making a dramatic “SOS” trip to Belgium in a bid to woo the Belgian big spenders to Romford shopping centre.

Cllr Johnston was flying out to Antwerp on the “Save our Shoppers” trip - an 11th hour attempt to persuade the bargain hunting Belgians to visit Romford instead of rival Southend.

His move followed signs that the seaside town was keying up to snatch the shoppers who would fly into Southend Airport as a direct result of his own brainchild, first revealed in the Recorder.

Stores were planning to string up banners of welcome to the Belgians and arrange special displays.

Romford Chamber of Commerce agreed to pay for coaches to transport the visitors between Southend Airport and Market Place, Romford, while Havering Council was going to arrange for 500 copies of the town guide with maps and information on facilities.

1996:

A teenager girl was believed to have been brutally raped in a Romford subway - two years after a call for it to be closed.

“It is absolutely appalling,” said Cllr Wilkes.

“I called for this disgusting tunnel to be shut down two years ago.”

The 16-year-old was attacked at around 9.30pm in the subway linking Mercury Gardens and The Liberty shopping centre - well out of range of CCTV cameras.

Cllr Wilkes said: “It is dark, dingy and stinks.

“I cannot think why people use it anyway, I certainly would not go down there.

“I can see no reasonalbe way of making it safe short of closure and using it for emergencies only.”

Det Insp Dave Court from Romford police said: “It was a brutal attack.

“We are a team of highly trained officers working around the clock but any assistance from the public would be really appreciated.”

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