Flashback: The keeper of Seven Kings library, Redbridge’s clean air and the end of Wanstead Hospital

Landmark locations across Redbridge. The old Wanstead Hospital building

Landmark locations across Redbridge. The old Wanstead Hospital building - Credit: Archant

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

1956: The borough mourned the loss of the much-loved keeper of Seven Kings Library Hall.

Basil Claude Hazelwood gave 33 years to Ilford Council, and for the last 18 years of his life was responsible for the maintenance of the library and organised events there.

His wife described him as “a man who put duty before pleasure” who nevertheless thoroughly enjoyed his job.

Born in Suffolk, the 57-year-old came to Ilford after serving in the rifle brigade during the First World War.


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In the wake of his death at his home next door to the library, his family had received dozens of letters, some from complete strangers, who remembered his past kindnesses.

1976: The borough was celebrating after it was announced it officially had the cleanest air in London.

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Figures released by the Redbridge environmental health department stated that the borough only had 15 micrograms of smoke per cubic metre.

The smokiest area of the borough, central Ilford, only had 28 micrograms.

Tom Boyd-Meaney, the council’s deputy chief environmental health officer, revealed that 23 domestic smoke control orders had helped bring the borough’s pollution under control.

“Our inspectors are continuously working to prevent the emission of black smoke from industrial chimneys,” he said.

1996: The Recorder revealed that the end was nigh for Wanstead Hospital.

Redbridge and Waltham Forest Health Authority announced it had given the go-ahead for a consultation to be launched over plans to close the last unit at the hospital, where services had been much reduced since 1992.

The Heron and Galleon unit was made up of 24-beds and was the last service remaining at the Hermon Hill hospital.

However, from 1995-1996 the unit’s bed occupancy rate was only 35 percent, making it three times more expensive to run than similar services in the district.

Much of the original building had already been sold to housing developers.

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