Flashback: High diver to the rescue, shotgun van raid and a car park plan scuppered by vandals

An Ilford swimming gala was rescued by a judge thrilling crowds with a high-diving routine in 1957.

An Ilford swimming gala was rescued by a judge thrilling crowds with a high-diving routine in 1957. Photo: Tari Örs/ Wikimedia Commons - Credit: Archant

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

1957: A judge at an Ilford boy scouts swimming gala was the surprise star of the show after he wowed crowds with a spectacular high diving routine.

The gala’s attendance had been hard hit by the flu, and many of the programmed events were cancelled entirely.

So, to make sure the crowds got their money’s worth, William Perry, of Ashurst Drive, Barkingside, swapped his judge’s blazer for swimming trunks and climbed to the high diving boards.

Once there, he put on an amazing display of high diving that left those who saw it wide eyed with amazement.

The crowd cheered and applauded, while officials smiled on in relief.

1977: Bandits armed with sawn-off shotguns and sledge hammers escaped with more than £63,000 in a security van raid in Ilford.

Most Read

The gang, wearing balaclavas, smashed the windscreen of the van and threatened to shoot the Securicor guards unless they handed over the cash.

But as the gang sped off in another stolen van, one of them fell back through the open rear doors.

The gang stopped to pick him up, and then drove down the wrong side of Ilford High Road being followed by the battered security van with its sirens screaming.

Eventually, the gang made off on foot, and police offered a reward of £6,000 for any information leading to the gang’s arrest.

1997: Vandals scuppered plans to open a much needed car park in central Ilford.

Electrical wiring, fittings and copper tubes were all stolen from the empty Balfour Road multi-storey car park.

Tonnes of litter were also dumped in the car park, which had been dogged by controversy ever since councillors agreed to close it to the public in 1995.

Parking pressures led to the Exchange shopping centre paying for the car park to be open temporarily during Christmas 1996, but plans to reopen the building permanently were left in jeopardy once contractors saw the amount of extra work required to fix the damage done at the site during its 24 months of disuse.