Heritage: Fire leaves families homeless, a newborn abandoned, and couple steal flowers from graves

20 years ago... our front page, August 4, 1999

20 years ago... our front page, August 4, 1999 - Credit: Archant

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

70 years ago... our front page, July 27, 1999

70 years ago... our front page, July 27, 1999 - Credit: Archant

70 years ago, July 27, 1949:

Fire sweeps through a block of London County Council houses in Raydons Road making five families homeless as the flames are fanned by a breeze coming across Parsloes Park.

One tenant is at the local cinema at the time and learns about the blaze when a message for him is flashed on the big screen.

The Dagenham Post says farewell to Charlie Nathan who retires at 65 after 42 years a signalman at Dagenham railway station.

He began working in 1907 for the London Tilbury Southend Railway when the station only had one steam train every half-hour.

"I wouldn't have minded staying on," he tells the paper. "But I suppose we old'uns must make way for others. All the time the railway has been improving the passengers have moaned — I suppose they always will." He'll miss his old signal box.

40 years ago... our front page, August 1, 1979

40 years ago... our front page, August 1, 1979 - Credit: Archant

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At the flicks… Bob Hope stars with Lucille Ball in Sorrowful Jones being shown at the Odeon cinemas in Chadwell Heath, Barking and Dagenham and at the Gaumont in Chadwell Heath. Doris Day appears in her first film, It's Magic, showing at the Odeon in Green Lanes.

40 years ago, August 1, 1979

A newborn baby is found abandoned in a phone kiosk wrapped in a curtain and put into a cardboard box.

Six weeks on, the baby girl is placed in the care of Barking Council by magistrates at Barking juvenile court.

Firefighters caught up in an industrial dispute warn of crisis because of a shortage of fire tenders, with crews at Dagenham and Barking fire stations at full stretch.

The crisis is caused by a backlog at maintenance workshops, with tenders lying idle while a mechanics' strike continues.

Elsewhere, "mindless hooligans" are blamed for wrecking a new toddlers' slide erected just three weeks ago in Old Dagenham Park. Other damage includes a park bench hauled up a tree.

A champion talking parrot which can repeat its name and address if asked has gone on the police "missing persons" list.

Marky the African grey escapes from owner Keith Gell's Dagenham home. It has a half-Cockney-half-Yorkshire accent with an 80 word vocabulary—and not a single swear word.

20 years ago, August 4, 1999

A ghoulish couple who steal flowers from graves which they sell at a car boot sale are finally tracked down in a police stake-out.

It follows a 14-week crime spree at Dagenham's Crow Lane Cemetery and South Essex Crematorium in Corbets Tey. The couple admit theft and are given community orders by a judge.

Another cemetery is plagued by vandals randomly smashing graves which leads Barking Council to install new mobile CCTV cameras.

The vandalism outrages the council which condemns whoever is responsible. Security patrols are laid on at night and weekends when the cemetery is closed, as well as using CCTV surveillance.

A car thief gets more than he bargains for leaping into a sporty £20,000 Cherokee in Goodmayes Lane and driving off — he has taken the owner's mother-in-law as well!

The frightened 79-year-old pensioner from Barking is left stranded after the thief dumps her in Ilford.