Flashback: A continental love affair, a trashed church and Redbridge mourns Princess Diana

PUBLISHED: 15:00 03 September 2017

Princess Di Visits The Wellcome Trust Dec 1996

Princess Di Visits The Wellcome Trust Dec 1996


A look back at the biggest local stories from this week 20, 40 and 60 years ago.

1957: A German girl who travelled to Barkingside to learn the story of a Second World War fighter pilot ended up staying here, after she fell in love with him.

Flying Officer John Owen Anker, 24, of Elsgert Parade, Barkingside, met Renate Bohrmann in 1955 when she was serving as an administrator for Nato’s technical air force during a parade.

The pair met several times after that and worked on a number of projects together until Miss Bohrmann was assigned to write a “local boy come good” profile about Mr Anker for a German magazine.

She had already written hundreds of articles about other officers who had fought in the war, but this one was different – she ended up marrying him in a beautiful ceremony at a German church.

The pair did plan to live in Barkingside, and Ms Bohrmann was no stranger to England, having lived in London for a year with an aunt just after the war.

1977: Thugs caused hundreds of pounds of damage during an orgy of destruction at a Chigwell Row church.

The criminals wrecked stalls put up for the bank holiday arts and crafts fair and left human excreta smeared over walls and floors of All Saint’s Church in Romford Road.

They also broke into the second-floor flat of a couple next door who were away on holiday and rifled through their possessions.

All Saints Church’s Rev S Cooper told the Recorder: “We assume they were looking for money and because they couldn’t find much they went wild.”

1997: Shocked Redbridge residents queued for hours to sign a book of condolence at Redbridge Town Hall in Ilford High Road to pay their respects to beloved Princess Diana in the wake of her death.

Some of the most poignant were memories shared by staff from Bernardo’s in Barkingside, where the princess was a frequent visitor.

The charity’s official photographer, John Kirkham, told the Recorder: “It’s especially sad that she was hounded by photographers on the night she died, because she did all she could to help genuine photographers.”

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