How the Dagenham Post reported the news this week in 1949, 1979 and 1999

Our front page on July 13, 1949

Our front page on July 13, 1949 - Credit: Archant

Our archives reveal how the Dagenham Post reported a blackmailer 70 years ago was caught in the act, how upset a little girl 40 years ago was who lost her dog and the headmaster 20 years ago who single-handedly manned the baracades to stop travellers invading his school.

Our edition on July 11, 1979

Our edition on July 11, 1979 - Credit: Archant

July 13, 1949:

A blackmailer demanding £100 from a married woman claiming she's having an illicit affair ends up at Stratford police court when the 34-year-old unemployed factory worker is charged with "uttering a letter with menaces" and stealing a wireless set.

His innocent victim, a middle-aged housewife and mother, returns home to find a letter signed with a skull and crossbones asking: "How would you like your husband to know about the affair you are having with the old boy in the barn?"

The blackmailer demands: "I have photos of you with him together, and if I don't get what I want I will see that he gets them. You can please yourself. I want £100 in £1 and 10s notes. Put where I say—follow the dotted line. If not, you suffer, not me."

But it's the blackmailer who is to suffer. Police follow the dotted line to wasteland and arrest him. Magistrates commit him for trial at the Old Bailey after his confession.

At the flicks that week… Gary Cooper is in Good Sam with Ann Sheridan at Gaumont and Odeon cinemas in Chadwell Heath, Barking, Dagenham and Seven Kings. Or you can buy a "high definition" TV console (six-inch screen) for £10 down and £1 a week for a year from Atkin's in Ripple Road.

Our front page on July 14, 1999

Our front page on July 14, 1999 - Credit: Archant

Most Read

July 11, 1979:

Marie Clark is a sad little girl because her pet red setter Rusty has run away.

The four-year-old is convinced Rusty doesn't lover her any more, we report. She holds the lead and collar all the time after the dog made its dash from the back garden of their house in Stour Road.

"He's a bit of a softie and friendly as they come," Marie's mum Denise tells the paper. "We've been out in the car every night looking for him. The children are frantic."

We appeal to readers to phone in if they see Rusty and help make Marie and her six-year-old brother Stephen happy again.

Another story is Cliff Vanersypen answering a knock on the door to find three balloonists sitting in a wicker basket on his doorstep.

What is left of their crash-landed hot air balloon is draped over the roof of his house in Wykeham Green. The 8ft balloon, one of a dozen on an annual early-morning flight over London, is knocked out of the sky by an unexpected gust of wind, waking neighbours as it crashes to earth.

July 14, 1999:

A special edition with pictures from the Dagenham Town Show—but our main splash story this week is the headmaster who becomes a 'human barricade' to stop travellers invading his school.

"Enough is enough" the headline screams, although a few caravans manage to get onto Warren Comprehensive School's playing field despite Andy Buck's single-handed action, with another 50 circling the surrounding streets.

"The travellers had cut through the padlock on the gates and 15 got in before I got there," he says. "I had to hold the gate shut while one traveller tried to force it with his caravan."

Police and council officers soon arrive to take over.

Meanwhile, health campaigners toast Prime Minister Tony Blair after seeing the front-page of the Post the week before with an exclusive on the new Oldchurch Hospital getting the go-ahead. The news had been given to us direct from Downing Street just as we were going to press. We pulled all the stops to splash the news first.