Flashback: Council houses, swimming pool thugs and a stolen memorial bench


40-years-ago - Credit: Archant

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


Building of the first council houses under Romford’s export-of-population plan took place on a 42-acre site at Hanging Hill Lane, Brentwood, which was taken over under the Out-County Development Scheme.

Local authorities – including Ilford, Dagenham, East Ham and Walthamstow – acted as a group in buying sites in outer Essex for their overspill population.

The Hutton Houses were built with two or three bedrooms.

Probable government subsidy was only £10 per house. Experts anticipated each house would cost more than £2,000, and proportional rents were considered.

The Recorder’s reporter was told “new applicants might still have a chance of being allocated a local house. It would all depend on the number of points in their favour”.

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A 12-year-old boy was knocked unconscious and repeatedly kicked in the head by a gang of vicious thugs at a swimming pool changing room.

The attack happened when Peter Barlow, of Medora Road, Romford, went swimming at the Dagenham pool with his nine-year-old pal Billy Potter.

One of the six youths, who had earlier threatened him in the pool, grabbed him by the arm and threw him over his shoulder.

The gang finally fled when pool attendants rushed to the boy’s aid – but not before Billy, of Drummond Road, Romford, managed to get a good look at the ring-leader.

Peter was taken to Oldchurch Hospital, Romford, and was later released after treatment for bruises.

Police launched an appeal for witnesses to help catch the bullies.

They were believed to be under 15. Billy said: “The ring-leader was about 14, 5ft 4in tall and quite strong looking.

“He was wearing a blue T-shirt and jeans and had short black hair.”


A distraught Elm Park mother branded the callous thieves who stole her son’s memorial bench from a Hornchurch cemetery as “despicable and heartless”.

The wooden bench was bought by Christine Lambert, of Benhurst Avenue, after her 11-year-old son, Daniel, died of severe anaemia in 1992. “I hope their hands drop off,” said Mrs Lambert. “It is absolutely disgraceful that people have come to steal from the dead.

“We put the bench near Daniel’s grave because my husband and I normally visit every other day.

“We wanted somewhere to sit and something to remind us of him. It even had a plaque with his name on it.

“We cannot afford to replace the bench, which cost £600. It was with the help of family and friends that we bought it in the first place.

“It is also too disheartening to think someone could take it again.

“Hopefully, the thieves will search their consciences and return our bench.”

Pc Paul Atkinson, of Romford police, said: “This was the second theft of a bench from the cemetery in two weeks and it is totally heartless. We are appealing for witnesses who may have seen a bench being loaded onto a van.”