Flashback: An historic find, a spending bonanza and the rebirth of a Woodford Green estate

The Ilford Hospital Chapel was the scene of an historic find in 1956.

The Ilford Hospital Chapel was the scene of an historic find in 1956. - Credit: Archant

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

1956: An ancient crypt, filled with more than 70 coffins, was discovered at Ilford’s hospital chapel.

The historic find is believed to have been part of a tunnel that would allow monks to travel between the hospital chapel and Barking Abbey in medieval times.

Workmen making restorations to the chapel found the entrance to the crypt while they were moving pews on the south side of the aisle.

Pulling away crumbling stonework from what they thought was a rat hole, they uncovered a deep cavity.

Descending into it with lamps, they found rows of lead lined coffins bearing ornate family crests in long rows.

At one end of the vault, the outline of an entrance suggested the vault used to run further.

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1976: A spending bonanza hit Redbridge as bargain hunters from across the capital invaded the borough for the start of the January sales.

Customers from as far away as Southend flocked to Wests department store in Cranbrook Road as it was one of the first to open after Christmas.

Store manager Nigel Cochran said: “Ir was really worth coming in for the bank holiday. We have never had such a response - it’s fabulous!”

A spokesman for the Harrison Gibson store in Ilford High Road said: “The store has been full since it opened and the sales began.

“It seems remarkable that people have money so soon after Christmas.”

The holiday spending boom in pubs and off-licences across Redbridge was also going strong as drinkers attempted to buy cut-price alcohol before higher taxes were introduced on January 1.

1996: One Woodford Green estate was facing a new era thanks to a huge government grant.

The Ray Lodge estate and surrounding areas were looking forward to renewed prosperity thanks to a £2.98million payment as part of a five-year plan improve the quality of life of residents in the area.

Yvonne McMahon , chairman of the Ray Lodge Residents Association, said: “We are over the moon. It is a lovely Christmas present for us all.

“We can now have an estate we can be proud of.”