Flashback: A house fire, Barking hospital and a crime fighting dog

Barking Hospital. Picture: LBBD Archive/Valence House Museum

Barking Hospital. Picture: LBBD Archive/Valence House Museum - Credit: Archant

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

1957: A poorly put out cigarette was to blame for a fire that ripped through all four rooms of a flat.

A leading firefighter claimed the fire would not have been so severe if the couple had installed a smoke alarm – only nine per cent of homes had one installed in 1957.

The London Fire Brigade received a call to attend the fire in Tiptree Crescent, Clayhall early on a Thursday.

Just a week after a campaign was launched to increase fire awareness, one of the occupants was believed to have been smoking in bed before they fell asleep.

The couple escaped unhurt before the fire engines arrived, but the flat was gutted in the blaze.

1977: A top child health consultant warned babies could die because of overcrowding at Barking Hospital’s baby care unit.

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The area’s consultant paediatrician Dr Bridget O’Connell said that babies sometimes had to be taken to Rush Green or Whipps Cross hospitals a few miles away when the 18-cot unit was full.

When the neighbouring units were packed, doctors and nurses had to make up to 12 phone calls to get help from other London hospitals often many miles away.

At the time Barking Hospital served nearly 60 per cent of mothers in the local area.

The unit was originally designed for 12 cots and six more were squeezed in.

Weak, premature and seriously ill babies could be given much needed warmth and oxygen with special incubators and ventilators at the Barking unit.

1997: A resident was woken by his dog to find a burglar escaping with a haul of goods together worth £500.

The burglar got into the semi-detached house in The Drive, Ilford, home through an open window and took belongings, including a £200 DVD player and a £300 digital camera.

But the thief’s rampage was cut short when black labrador Jono began barking and alerted his owners to the intruder.

The householder called police, but although a number of the goods the burglar had picked up were dropped at the scene, unfortunately no trace was found of the thief.