Flashback: A warm reunion, Ilford’s traders’ desperate plea and threatened station entrances in South Woodford

PUBLISHED: 10:00 23 July 2017

General view of Ilford town centre. Picture: Paul Bennett

General view of Ilford town centre. Picture: Paul Bennett


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

1957: An Ilford great-grandmother was making headlines after travelling more than half the world to be reunited with a son she had not seen in 35 years.

Ellen Mary Graham, 77, left her home in Fencepiece Road, Barkingside, in May – against her doctor’s advice and travelled to Australia.

The physician had warned her she had a weak heart which might not stand the stress of the journey.

So it was an immense relief when Rev Ralph Ashmore of the Hainault Baptist Church, finally received a letter from her.

It told of how the plucky septagenerian had arrived at Sydney on July 4 and flown the following day to Mount Isa in Queensland, where her son Tom was working as a mining engineer.

She said her fears as ending her life as a lonely woman had vanished the moment she saw him.

1977: Traders in Redbridge were being urged to back a petition campaign to save their businesses from being caught up in bureaucratic red tape and slowing down a planned pedestrianisation of Ilford high street.

There were fears that the final green light for a Greater London Council funded £8.5m scheme to totally reinvent the high street as a modern shopping centre could be delayed after it was not included in the GLC’s Transport Planning Program for 1977.

Shopkeepers and local businesses started the petition to impress upon county hall the importance of the scheme in helping maintain the local economy.

1997: It was a rare moment of political unity when all three of Redbridge Council’s major parties came together to fight the planned closure of South Woodford Station’s westbound entrance.

London Underground had announced just two weeks’ previously that it would be closing the entrance within three months as it was losing so much money from people fare-dodging there.

But after pressure from Cllr Simon Green, chairman of the council’s public transport liaison committee, LU agreed to provide six months’ notice, giving local politicians and activists enough time to campaign to save the entrance from closure.


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