Flashback: ‘A union of thieves’, a mystery fire and an Ilford quagmire

PUBLISHED: 13:00 19 May 2019

Ilford High Road hosted dramatic scenes 20 and 40 years ago. Picture: Ken Mears

Ilford High Road hosted dramatic scenes 20 and 40 years ago. Picture: Ken Mears


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

1959: A Gants Hill man was jailed for three years after he crashed a stolen car into a tree while a police officer desperately clung to it.

The man was one of three who targeted houses in Chingford and more affluent areas of central London looking to steal luxury cars.

The court heard the three men had "formed a union of thieves" to make their lives easier when out on the prowl.

They were caught after two police officers on a routine car patrol spotted the three men crouched over a parked car's open bonnet.

One officer leapt onto the car while the thieves got in and started the engine, attempting to speed off before ploughing into the parked tree.

1979: A large Ilford High Road furniture store was gutted by a mystery blaze.

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The town's shopping centre was cordoned off while eight fire engines dealt with the three-storey fire at Kentons.

Police quickly ruled out arson but investigations of the buildings gas and electrial connections also failed to turn up any clues.

The fire caused £100,000 of damage but store manager Bert Wade was not as confident as the authorities that it was an accident.

"It is very odd," he told the Recorder. "With so much vandalism to shops around here recently anything is possible."

1999: Ilford High Road was bought to a standstill after a water main burst, showering the road with mud and debris.

The road was sealed off by police while emergency plumbers battled to isolate the main.

The road remained closed for more than two days, bringing traffic chaos to surrounding roads.

Emergency repairs were eventually completed.

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