Flashback: A hate mail mystery, a builder’s yard blaze and the beginnings of the Cricklefield clubhouse

Cricklefield Stadium

Cricklefield Stadium - Credit: Archant

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

1957: A Barkingside family were left cowering every time the postman made an appearance after suddenly being targeted by a stream of vicious hate mail.

The White family, of Mellows Road, Barkingside, had found themselves opening four mysterious letters over the last two weeks, each one written in the same handwriting, each one making a different patently false complaint against the family.

One, addressed to Irene, the mother of the family, accused her of not taking proper care of the family’s two dogs, and even claimed to have witnessed the two dogs attacking a man in the neighbour’s garden.

Another claimed to be aware that the two parents of the household left their children alone each night to go drinking at the local pub – a claim rubbished by both local NSPCC inspectors and all the nearby pubs’ landlords.

The police were investigating the mysterious letters.

1977: Detectives launched an arson investigation after a large blaze wrecked a Wanstead builder’s yard.

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Several eyewitnesses reported seeing a group of children running from the scene shortly before flames engulfed the building in Jolliffe Builders in Wanstead High Street.

The fire caused an estimated several thousand pounds worth of damage as it spread quickly through the brick and timber workshop.

A director of the firm told the Recorder: “It’s a mystery, we really have no idea what happened until the experts have finished investigating.”

1997: Footballers and athletes moved a step nearer to seeing a £250,000 new sports pavillion at Cricklefields Stadium become a reality.

Plans to replace the grassy knoll next to the pitch with a clubhouse, including a bar, function suite and changing rooms, which were masterminded by both Ilford FC and Ilford Athletic Club, were approved by Redbridge Council’s leisure committee.

The club just needed to raise the money to pay for the building to make the dream a reality.

Ilford FC president Peter Foley said: “We and the athletic club are ambitious.

“We want to get into higher leagues and we would not be able to do that without this facility.”