Flashback: A theatre row, police walking to 999 calls and blaze at a bowls club

St Chad's Bowling Club in 2012 - Arthur Blackmore and Derick Berry

St Chad's Bowling Club in 2012 - Arthur Blackmore and Derick Berry - Credit: Archant

A look back at the stories of the day, this week, 60, 40 and 20 years ago.

1957: The council decided to keep Ilford’s Little Theatre open for amateur companies by turning down one group’s request for an annual tenancy of the building.

The Renegades Theatre Company had asked to take up residency of the theatre for the following year, with the authority to sub-let it to other theatre groups.

However, the council refused its request, offering the group the theatre for just one week out of every month instead.

The decision was likely to prove popular with the other amateur companies that used the hall, but the Recorder’s Tony Bernard asked if this was the best use the council could make of the theatre.


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1977: Ilford police officers were banned from using their Panda cars during the morning shift.

The divisional commander, Con Mulvihill, allegedly instituted the ban after he saw a driver giving a lift to a foot patrol officer.

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Officers said the ban meant they would have to walk to respond to 999 calls.

One policeman said: “There are no Panda cars on the early shift at Ilford and that has caused a lot of upset among the officers.

“We are being treated like kids.”

The commander denied that this was the reason for the ban, saying that it was “an experiment in public relations”.

He said: “By going on the beat policemen will have an opportunity to have personal contact with the public.”

1997: A bowls club in Chadwell Heath suffered an arson attack just weeks after receiving a grant to transform its pavilion.

St Chad’s Bowling Club had received £19,000 from the National Lottery in January to pay for a major extension to its clubhouse.

However, a blaze started by arsonists left the building at risk of being condemned as unsafe and demolished.

The fire destroyed the 150-member club’s changing rooms and kitchen, and badly damaged a wall and the roof.

Club member Ken Burns said: “This could kill the whole thing stone dead. There’s talk that the building may be condemned. We had so many plans for expanding and now we just don’t know what will happen.”

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