Nostalgia: Havering in history on May 24, 1953, 1973 and 1993

The Recorder, May 29, 1953

The Recorder, May 29, 1953 - Credit: Archant

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

Romford and Hornchurch Recorder, May 18, 1973

Romford and Hornchurch Recorder, May 18, 1973 - Credit: Archant

Sixty years ago - 1953

Romford Recorder, May 21, 1993

Romford Recorder, May 21, 1993 - Credit: Archant

Romford’s carnival queen was stripped of her title after it was discovered she had broken the main rule of the competition: she wasn’t actually from Romford.

Twenty-year-old Maureen Howard was proud winner of the competition until spiteful competitors discovered she lived half a mile outside Romford, and dobbed her in to the organisers.

In tears, she called the Recorder and told a reporter how people had repeatedly called her to shower her with abuse.


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“Because of this I will never enter a competition again,” said heartbroken Maureen, who technically lived in Hornchurch but had always considered herself a Romford girl.

The runner up was given the award in her place, and the procession moved away from the Crown Hotel at 3pm, on Friday, May 29, 1953.

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An Australian librarian’s assistant was sent to prison for breaking into a Hornchurch school and one of its pavilions to steal some stage curtains, a clock and some cricket bags.

The man who subsequently bought the goods that had been taken from Bush Elms School was fined £15 and ordered to pay the cost of the prosecution.

Meanwhile, the thief was jailed for 18 months after pleading not guilty.

His defence lawyer said he had mistakenly tried to help his friend by stealing the goods.

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The first of Romford’s Coronation parties was held at 151, Lodge Avenue, when 24 “happy and excited” children were invited into the garden and given tea and scones.

Prizes such as a toy, a bag of sweets and a bar of chocolate were given during games in the gardens.

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Forty years ago - 1973

A change in catchment areas was causing heartache for a young Romford family.

Yvonne and Catherine Kenny, of Crow Lane, had been attending St Joseph’s Primary School in Dagenham – geographically their closest Catholic school.

But because they lived just inside the Havering border, Barking Council had refused to take them to school on the bus, saying it had been inundated with seat requests for its own pupils.

Angry parents Frank and Noreen branded the decision “ridiculous” and said their daughters, who were aged just five and eight, would now have to walk two miles along a traffic-choked road to get to school.

“The bus picks up children just a few yards from here,” said Mr Kenny, 29. “But from Monday, my kids weren’t allowed on. They’ve been very upset and even cried.”

Havering Council said it would ask Barking Council to reconsider its decision “as a favour”.

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A rapid turnover of workers was cause for concern at Havering’s Post Offices.

Up to 250 postmen were quitting each year, strangling the service with training and recruitment costs.

As the story went to press, 14 postmen had left their jobs in the space of a week.

Romford’s assistant head postmaster Harold Twyman blamed the job’s unsocial hours.

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Residents of Petworth Way, Elm Park, said they felt like “nothing on earth” – because nearly a year after the street was built, it still didn’t exist on council records.

The street, in the new Glens Estate, lacked a road sign or any street lighting – and its inhabitants hadn’t been able to vote in April because canvassers never found them.

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Twenty years ago - 1993

A 65-year-old woman died after a huge fireball swept through her house – despite neighbours’ efforts to save her.

Jean Ashby, of Elms Farm Road, Elm Park, died of severe burns after the blaze gutted her home.

Derek Marney and Stephen Roberts burst into the smoke-filled house after a neighbour’s alarm went off, but were unable to get to Mrs Ashby because of the intense heat.

Mr Roberts said: “Seconds after we tried to get in, a huge fireball swept along the hallway and burst out of the house. It was terrifying.”

Sid Cantle, commander of Hornchurch Fire Station, said a working smoke alarm in Mrs Ashby’s home could have saved her life.

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Swimming sisters Tessa and Laura Brooks, of the Havering Killerwhales, fought back grief to take gold and bronze medals at a regional championship.

The girls’ mother, Munivai Taukave Brooks, 52, had died of a brain haemorrhage just a week earlier.

Her grieving widower Alan said he was “very proud” of his daughters, aged 12 and 14, who had continued training after the tragedy to take the medals in the Southern Counties Championships at Crystal Palace.

Tessa won gold in the 100m backstroke while Laura came third in the 200m individual medley relay.

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The head of a Romford school defended the study of a poem that detailed the gang rape of a teenage girl.

Giles Drew, head at St Edward’s C of E School, came under fire from angry parents who branded Stobhill, written in 1971 and taught to teenagers for five years, obscene.

But he called it a “powerful poem” that dealt with “important moral issues”.

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