Flashback:A protest against national service, a bomb scare and Churchill the pig

Churchill the pig caused quite a stir in Wanstead 20 years ago.

Churchill the pig caused quite a stir in Wanstead 20 years ago. - Credit: Archant

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

1956: A group of angry Chigwell residents, determined to get national servicemen withdrawn from the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, criticised the actions of one local MP.

They sent a strongly-worded letter to Chigwell MP John Biggs Davison, calling for a public meeting to discuss the issue after one local man died on the island whilst posted there on national service.

A petition, signed by 2,600 Chigwell residents, including a number of local councillors, was ignored by the MP, leading the letter to brand him “a cypher to the secretary of state for war”.

1976:Traffic was left in chaos around the Wanstead Flats fair when police were forced to seal off roads after a child discovered a wartime hand grenade and a horse was critically injured by a bus.


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A vet was sadly called in to put the horse down and a bomb squad was also brought to the scene to deal with the explosive as a wide diversion was made to roads in the area.

The drama began when a small girl approached a group of firemen who were working to put out a grass fire and handed them a pinless grenade dating back to 1911 she had found in a ditch.

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Quick-thinking firemen covered the grenade with sandbags and called the police, who sealed off a large part of Lake House Road and called in a specialist bomb squad from Hounslow.

Eventually the road was reopened after soldiers deemed the old grenade to be harmless and took it away.

1996: A Vietnamese pot-bellied pig called Churchill was the talk of the borough after a newly-moved in family introduced their beloved pet to the neighbourhood.

Named for his likeness to former Woodford MP and wartime leader Winston, the 11-stone porker could often be found surprising shoppers in his favourite stores in Wanstead High Street.

He belonged to the Leonard family, who had just moved in to Eaton Rise.

Mother Jill Leonard said: “He’s very affectionate. If he doesn’t get to sit on James’ bed for a cuddle each night he cries outside.”

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