Flashback: Increase in Romford rates, a horrific road crash and a playgroup in need


60-years-ago - Credit: Romford Library

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


Romford rates were set to soar to 19 shillings in the pound, an increase of 1s. 8d. over one year. This was decided by a majority vote at a crowded council meeting where members of the public were provided with chairs on the floor of the council chamber. The 19s. rate decision concluded an hour and a half of heated debate during which Conservative councillors unsuccessfully defended an amendment to limit the new rate to 18s. 3d.

Alderman W R Pike moved approval of the 19s. rate in the absence of Ald Bradley, leader of the Labour group, who was recovering in hospital from a serious collapse. Ald Pike said: “In Romford the Tory government’s bribes to business are costing us £109,000 in rateable value which, based on the present rate in the pound, means a loss in income of £95,000.


A reserve seaman, who survived the Fittleton navy disaster in which 12 men died, lost his leg in a horrific road crash. The young seaman’s mother told how she had a premonition of the road accident in which her son was seriously injured.

Arnold Jeacock, 21, had a leg amputated below the knee in an emergency operation after the crash which happened at the A13 junction with Sandy Lane, Rainham. He was riding his motorbike to Rainham station where he was a railman when he was involved in a collision with a car. Arnold was taken to Orsett Hospital where he had surgery on an arm, which was broken in four places. He also suffered a fractured pelvis. Arnold’s mother, Beryl Jeacock, of Aveley, said: “Every time he set out for work I used to warn him to be careful at that junction.” In September 1956, Arnold, a non-swimmer, cheated death when the minesweeper Fittleton sank in the North Sea during a Nato exercise. Disaster struck during a manoeuvre with the frigate Mermaid.

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A Collier Row vicar said he would no longer allow a playgroup to use his church hall, because its helpers were not religious enough, angry mothers claimed. Furious parents formed an action group to fight the Rev Ray Samme’s plan to bar the Good Shepherd Playgroup from the Collier Row Lane hall – which they had used for 30 years – when the leader retired in July. The playgroup catered for 20 children aged between three and five, two mornings a week.

Although two of the group’s helpers were qualified nursery teachers and willing to take over, they, unlike the current leader, were not members of the Church of the Good Shepherd’s congregation and were not considered suitable said the mums.

The mothers were planning to send a 200-name petition objecting to the closure to the Bishop of Barking and Dagenham.