News flashback: River rescue, ‘a torturer’ and a police boost

60 years ago

60 years ago - Credit: Romford Library

The stories that made the news 60, 40 and 20 years ago

40 years ago

40 years ago - Credit: Romford Library


When 11-year-old Peter Rodberg arrived home soaked to the skin, his mum scolded him for getting wet.

Then she learned Peter had helped to save the life of a school friend.

Peter, of Recreation Road, Harold Wood, and 15-year-old Roger Mack, of Ravensbourne Crescent, pulled Alan Perkin, 11, from the water, where he laid unconscious below the surface, half-buried in mud.

20 years ago

20 years ago - Credit: Romford Library

Alan's doctor said that 30 seconds later, the boy would have drowned.

The three lads had been swinging across the banks of the river by a rope tied to a tree branch.

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Friends were trying to splash them by throwing mud-lumps into the water.

As Alan swung out across the river, a heavy clod of earth struck him across the face and he dropped into the river.

Roger and Peter went in to save him and dragged him onto the banks.


A Harold Hill man who held a four-year-old boy over an electric fire was called a "torturer" by a crown court judge.

The child suffered first and second degree burns to his hands and feet.

He spent 14 days in hospital.

The judge told the defendant, 25, that he would have had him birched if he could.

He was jailed for four years for causing grievous bodily harm to the boy.

He had denied the charge.

Sentencing him at Chelmsford Crown Court, judge Peter Greenwood said: "This sort of case where terrible injuries are caused to small children varies from an overwrought mother, who, in a moment of anger, does something dreadful to her child, to you.

"You are nearer to a torturer and this is one of the few cases where I regret I have not the power to order you to be birched."


Havering police were launching a major crime-busting initiative in a bid to cut down on burglary and car crime in the run up to the millennium.

They secured funding from a successful bid to the Metropolitan Police reserves meaning an extra 5,000 hours police patrol time, more patrol cars and security hardware for residents.

The whole of the borough was going to see extra bobbies on the streets but certain areas had been earmarked as hotspots by Det Ch Insp Tony Southern and Insp Christopher McNamara, who was going to be spearheading the offensive.

Hornchurch was going to be specifically targeted for its high rate of car crime, Romford was going to see disorder patrols in the town centre during the evening and Rainham was going to see an extra crackdown on house burglaries, shed break-ins and car crime.