Memories of drama at school still fresh

WE go back to a quite dramatic Days of the Old School Yard this week, nearly 30 years ago. But fortunately it all ended well. It surrounds an incident where eight children were taken to hospital back in 1980 after lumps of deadly phosphorus were scattered

WE go back to a quite dramatic Days of the Old School Yard this week, nearly 30 years ago. But fortunately it all ended well.

It surrounds an incident where eight children were taken to hospital back in 1980 after lumps of deadly phosphorus were scattered in their school playground.

None of the children, aged between eight and ten, was badly hurt but police launched an operation to trace the source of the chemical.

The incident happened during the lunch hour at Roman Road Primary School, East Ham.


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Pupils coming out of class found lumps of grey stone-like chemical on the ground and unaware of the danger began to pick them up.

Phosphorous bursts into flames on prolonged contact with the air. One pupil back then, eight-year-old Gavin Worrow, trod on a lump and his shoe caught fire. He and seven other pupils who suffered burned hands were treated at Albert Dock Hospital.

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Two dinner ladies, Carol Moodie and Janet Johnson, were also treated for minor burns.

After the incident the playground was closed and the whole school of 220 pupils warned about the dangers of the chemical.

Headmaster Mr John Goodey took a piece to the chemistry laboratories in nearby Brampton Manor School for analysis.

They identified it as industrial phosphorus and detectives in East Ham urged local manufacturers of the chemical to check their stocks.

The children involved and pictures were Terri White, eight, Paul Ross, ten and Diane Ashley, nine, from East Ham. Paul Welham and Michael Ford both nine, from East Ham, Gavin Worrow, eight and Lee Bearman, nine.

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