Nostalgia: This week in history - April 12, 1953, 1973 and 1993

The Recorder front page, April 17, 1953

The Recorder front page, April 17, 1953 - Credit: Archant

Havering in history - what was in the Romford Recorder 20, 40 and 60 years ago today.

Romford and Hornchurch Recorder front page, April 6, 1973

Romford and Hornchurch Recorder front page, April 6, 1973 - Credit: Archant

Sixty years ago - 1953

Romford Recorder front page April 9, 1993

Romford Recorder front page April 9, 1993 - Credit: Archant

A man and his son-in-law were jailed for three months for shoplifting in Romford.

Their booty included a box of chocolate rolls and a tin of biscuits, as well as shirts and other items from Marks and Spencer.

There were five charges in all. The men, both of Dagenham, pleaded guilty.


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The son-in-law said he hadn’t intended to steal anything, but that he had hit hard times and he didn’t want his wife to have to go without.

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A man did sums to prove he was sufficiently sober to drive a car. Unfortunately, he got two of them wrong.

But the sums were so difficult that both a magistrate and a solicitor made mistakes while doing the sums themselves.

The unusual test was handed to 35-year-old Harold Houghton, of Elmhurst Drive, Hornchurch, by a surgeon who spotted him driving his car “erratically” in Mile End.

In defence he said it was the first time he had driven the car, and that he wasn’t used to the controls.

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It was “essential to defeat the Tories and their right-wing Socialist allies,” the Recorder was told.

The words were spoken by schoolteacher Mr Cohen, area secretary of the Romford Communist Party – which was set to contest all four council seats in Harold Hill at the next election.

The seats fell into two wards – Gooshays, an earlier incarnation of the existing Havering Council area, and the now-defunct Newhall.

Among the party’s policies was a “five-power peace pact” involving Russia and China. It was not made clear how this could be achieved through local elections.

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Forty years ago - 1973

The first leisure swimming pool in the south of England was among the attractions proposed for the centre of Romford.

Plans for the £3.5million redevelopment also included a town square, an arts centre, an ice rink, a sports hall, reorganisation of the market place and more parking.

The “fun city” would be housed in low blocks to blend with existing surroundings.

But the mirrored finish of the arts and leisure building would turn heads.

Havering Council was consulting on the plans.

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Richard and Irene Beale tied the knot after 25 years of living together – because their children wanted them to.

The pair had been unable to marry when they first met as attempts to trace Irene’s first husband had been unsuccessful and so she was unable to formalise her divorce.

But a change in the law meant she could press ahead with her “new” love and make it legal.

Nine-year-old Mandy, one of the Rush Green couple’s eight children, said: “We always called them Mum and Dad but now it seems more proper.”

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Random blood samples from people in Gidea Park and Hornchurch had turned up worrying levels of two metals.

The bloods all came from people living or working close to main roads.

Regular blood donor Elizabeth Taylor, of Hornchurch Road, schoolboy Richard Cutler, of Brook Road, Gidea Park, and shopkeeper Len Wooster – who sparked the tests after complaining about the level of pollution near his store – all had samples taken.

The quantities of the two metals, although not at danger levels, were significantly higher than they should be. A Reading University chemistry professor said the results should be taken as a “warning sign”.

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Twenty years ago - 1993

A screaming teenager fought off would-be kidnappers in Balgores Lane, Gidea Park.

The sinister trio had driven past their 15-year-old victim, screaming a “torrent of abuse” before stopping the car and beating up one of the girl’s friends.

They drove off but then stopped once more alongside the girl – and this time a “ginger-haired yob” tried to pull her into the car.

Luckily, she managed to break free and ran off – but the attackers were still at large.

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Hornchurch, described as a “very busy part” of Havering for police work, had been given its own senior officer to take charge of operations.

Chief Insp Brian Roden, former operations chief at Romford Police Station, had been handed the reins and was now running Hornchurch Police Station, covering Upminster and Rainham as well as Hornchurch itself.

He filled the gap left by Supt Les House, whose departure in January 1993 had raised concerns that the town would be left without a senior officer.

But Met chiefs said it had always been the plan to replace Supt House.

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“Cutting through red tape” and “releasing more funds for patient care” – these familiar words may sound like the rhetoric of the latest NHS reorganisation, but in fact they were spoken 20 years ago as two new hospital trusts were formed.

Havering Hospitals Trust and the Barking, Havering and Brentwood Community Trust were to take over responsibility for the NHS in the borough, giving local managers more control over the budget and removing layers of bureaucracy.

The changes, announced by Barking and Havering Health Authority, were outlined by public health director Dr Chris Watts in an annual report.

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