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Flashback: A dance hall fight, ‘weird witchcraft’ and a threat to council workers’ pensions

PUBLISHED: 12:30 08 February 2020

The Dagenham Post's front page from February 10, 1960. Picture: Archant

The Dagenham Post's front page from February 10, 1960. Picture: Archant

Archant

Stories that made the news 60, 40 and 20 years ago

Page three of the Barking and Dagenham Post from February 13, 1980. Picture: ArchantPage three of the Barking and Dagenham Post from February 13, 1980. Picture: Archant

1960

A fight between rival gangs saw three men jump into a car, mount the pavement and head straight towards a crowd of youngsters.

The bystanders dived out of the way but the car turned and hurtled towards them again after the brawl broke out at the Royal Oak pub in Green Lane.

With "tyres screeching" it eventually "roared off into the night", according to the Post's story.

The Post's front page of February 9, 2000. Picture: ArchantThe Post's front page of February 9, 2000. Picture: Archant

Two youngsters were taken to hospital with suspicions the driver deliberately targeted the group in a bid to injure or kill them.

However, it was reported that the attackers had got the wrong people because none of them were involved in the punch up.

Injured 19-year old, Joseph Chambers of Chadway, Dagenham, said: "The fight took place upstairs in the dance hall while we were in the bar.

"We heard about it but had nothing to do with it. We left the bar and stood outside. Suddenly, I saw a big car mount the kerb and drive straight towards us."

Two people were treated for "slight abrasions and bruises".

1980

The letters RIP and discovery of a "weird witchcraft" plate in a Dagenham house brought to an abrupt end one man's attempt to insulate the loft.

A "cloud" was cast over the family of Ted Bass from Osborne Square after he found the "writing on the wall" above a bricked up hole and the broken plate decorated with "strange" symbols lying nearby.

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Ted's worried wife, Babe, called in a spiritualist in a bid to solve the mystery.

She said: "I am very superstitious and made Ted come down from the loft. We didn't know what he had found or what was hidden behind the wall."

But medium Fred Clark, from the Spiritualist Association of Great Britain said: "Whatever may or may not be there, it is nothing bad.

"If there was a strange entity in the house I would be able to feel it but so far there has been nothing."

He tested the plate and found "no vibrations".

Cult expert Eric Maple said the plate was probably a "valuable antique".

2000

A mistake made decades before was threatening to cut council workers' pensions by up to £25 a month.

More than 170 of the local authority's white collar former workers and their widows were at risk of having to repay thousands of pounds they received in error.

The "heart rending" situation came about as a result of "the very best of intentions".

The former Dagenham Urban District decided to reward its most loyal and long-serving officers by paying them a lump sum. By 1998 this had reached £950 a year in monthly instalments during their last years of service.

The money was counted as salary when their pensions were calculated, boosting their retirement pots.

It went on for 40 years and was seen as a good way of keeping talented staff.

But Barking and Dagenham Council chief executive Bill Smith called for the system to be reviewed following a pensions "scandal" in a neighbouring borough.


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