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Nostalgia: Havering in history on August 9, 1953, 1973 and 1993

PUBLISHED: 09:45 09 August 2013

The Recorder, August 14, 1953

The Recorder, August 14, 1953

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This week in history - 60, 40 and 20 years ago.

Sixty years ago – 1953

A 21-year-old Collier Row engineer who forged his parents’ signatures to cash a cheque was spared jail – because his victims said he was a “good boy”.

The Chase Cross Road resident – who, along with his young family, lodged with his parents – had defrauded the bank out of £12 by making out a cheque to himself in his mother and father’s names.

He had also stolen £2 17s from a gas meter.

His mother told the court: “From now on he will be a good boy.”

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Romford’s population was approaching 100,000 people, having been 87,991 just two years earlier.

The birth rate was 17.9 per 1,000 of the population, while the death rate was 9.1.

And about 27,500 houses were inhabited in the district.

Of the 1,938 births during the previous year, 76 had been illegitimate.

The figures were revealed in the Medical Officer of Health’s annual report.

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A 72-year-old sheep farmer who loved taking people out to dinner was reported “missing, presumed drowned” on his return boat from Romford to the Falkland Islands.

James Miller, who had “a genius for making new friends” and had been friendly with “hundreds of people in Romford, Hornchurch and Upminster”, had visited the area to celebrate the coronation.

He had ended up lodging with a butcher’s assistant, Mr Brett, who said Mr Miller was “the best man I ever met”.

The Recorder noted he had “become a well known local personality in a very short time. He could be seen walking along the street […] wearing an outsize straw sombrero decorated with a red, white and blue ribbon. This hat he wore in all weathers, frequently in the rain.”

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Forty years ago – 1973

Havering’s health education officer believed alcohol would be the borough’s “major social problem” in the 1980s.

And as a result an education campaign was to be rolled out across schools from September 1973 – teaching children as young as eight of the dangers of alcohol abuse.

The officer, Rafi Irtizaali, said there were three major causes: “foolish parents” who gave their children drinks in pub gardens, advertising that suggested drinking was “the in thing”, and films that depicted alcohol as a recourse for people who were emotionally disturbed.

While The Recorder approved of the school campaign, it also called for parents to be educated about their responsibilities.

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Condemned 350-year-old cottage shops in Gidea Park had been offered a partial reprieve – they could be resurrected in a museum.

The council had refused an appeal asking officers to quash planning permission given to the site, in Main Road, weeks earlier.

Unsurprisingly, the vice chairman of the Gidea Park Action Committee wasn’t satisfied with the suggestion the frontages be preserved at the Tithe Barn, describing Cllr Frank Coffin’s proposal as “sheer lunacy”.

But in a comment piece the Recorder called on the protestors to be content with the offer.

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Hornchurch Baptist Church’s new vicar found himself having to sleep on bare floorboards because of a drivers’ strike at a railway marshalling yard.

After moving into his new home in Mill Park Avenue, Rev Derek Rogers had hoped to settle in quickly to his new parish.

But the industrial dispute in Barking had stranded all his possessions in a different borough.

In the meantime, local people had rallied round, bringing sleeping bags, camp beds and even carpets to the house.

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Twenty years ago – 1993

A vandalised playground in Chase Cross was restored to its former glory in a matter of hours thanks to enterprising parents.

Furious families in the area decided enough was enough after vandals smashed through the back of a Chelmsford Avenue play hut and wrecked equipment inside.

They contacted Pauline and Stefan Koseda – the tenants’ association secretary and her local councillor husband – who helped organise a “small army of helpers” to renovate the damaged hut and clear the debris.

The tenants’ association enlisted local youngsters to help with the work, in a bid to discourage further antisocial behaviour.

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Havering’s A&E services would be based at Harold Wood Hospital from 1996, it had been announced, with Oldchurch’s emergency unit earmarked for closure.

Oldchurch, in turn, would become a “major centre for high-tech laser and keyhole surgery”.

But health campaigners were left reeling, saying the decision paved the way for the closure of the Romford hospital by stealth.

They claimed the local health trust wanted a single, all-purpose hospital at Harold Wood – something the trust denied.

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A £151,000 facelift to Romford’s “prestige” leisure centre The Dolphin had been unveiled.

The pool had been shut for seven weeks to allow refurbishments, repairs and upgrades, but it was now deemed ready for action.

Cllr Tony Rew, chairman of Havering’s culture and leisure committee, signalled the grand opening by sliding down a chute and making a splash.

He described the pool as a “flagship”.

As part of the work, there were new changing facilities for men, women and families.

Despite the refurbishment efforts, the Dolphin was to close just 20 months later, before finally being demolished in 2003.


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