Flashback: Housing, flat fire and abandoned baby


60-years-ago - Credit: Romford Library

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


There was good news for scores of elderly people whose names on Romford Council’s housing list represented their only hope of securing a longed-for dream home in which to end their days.

The building of one-bedroom modern flats, designed to suit the needs of pensioners, was to be speeded up and the council’s decision was likely almost to halve the “old folk’s” waiting list for homes.

Although this stood at 242 applicants, the list fluctuated considerably.

Since many names were long-standing, an investigation was likely to disclose that some applicants died and others had moved from the district.

The council bought a large old house in Western Road to house another 10 applicants.

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Young father Edwin Pounder fought against overpowering fumes and fire as he helped rescue his family from their blazing Harold Hill home.

And his brother-in-law Kevin O’Gallagher, 18, who was also sleeping in the flat, ran through a wall of flames to throw his 20-month-old nephew Sean to safety through a window.

Meanwhile, in their bedroom, Mr Pounder and his wife Alison escaped through another window with their 11-year-old daughter Angela.

They were all taken to Harold Wood Hospital where the two children were detained for observation.

Mr Pounder was treated for a suspected fractured arm which he received in the rescue drama.

The blaze started in the early hours while the family were asleep at their flat in Lindfield Road.

He said: “The first we knew about the fire was when there was a terrific crash and Sean screamed.

“The next moment there were flames everywhere.

“The heat was really intense and the fumes were terrible.”


Police were searching desperately for a young woman who left her baby daughter at Harold Wood Hospital’s maternity unit soon after giving birth.

The woman, who said she was 20, disappeared from the hospital in the early hours, shortly after naming her daughter Vanessa.

She had gone to the Accident and Emergency Department of Oldchurch Hospital, Romford, at 12.45am and had been transferred to Harold Wood at 1am.

Karen Proctor, Havering Hospitals NHS Trust’s head of midwifery, said: “The young lady arrived with no belongings.

“We had no record of ante-natal attendances for her.

“She was medically fit for discharge but staff attempted to dissuade her.”

The young mum discharged herself at 4.45am and left in a minicab. And though she said she would return at 9am, she never came back.