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Emerging from the storms

By Surrey Mirror  |  Posted: March 22, 2012

  • THEN: Horley High Street 1989

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THE storms which battered the nation in 1987 and 1990 caused devastation in East Surrey.

Two Reigate and Banstead residents were killed in the gales which claimed 45 lives nationwide on January 25, 1990.

Schoolgirl Ruth Wright, 11, from Banstead was fatally injured by a falling tree bough at St Philomena's Convent in Carshalton, while 75-year-old Cecil Cross of Epsom Downs, was found dead in his garden.

Roads were blocked, buildings smashed and a rabbit hutch overturned during the 1990 storm, which led to 500 calls to Surrey Fire and Rescue and children evacuated from schools.

In 1988, the brutal murder of Redhill dentist Joel Winter, 90, and his housekeeper Daisy French, 92, made headlines along with disorder at a gypsy camp in Green Lane, Outwood.

Mr Winter, a well-known and retired dentist, was killed on July 16 by an intruder at his home in Station Road, Redhill. The attacker beat him and left him in a pool of his own blood, while Mrs French died a few weeks later in hospital.

Labourer Maurice Lynch, 29, was later convicted of the murder.

Clashes between youths and police at the Outwood gypsy camp in July 1988, led to a number of arrests and charges of violent disorder and criminal damage for those involved.

Riot police stormed the site on July 4, after a brick was thrown through a police car window, following a week of trouble at the site on the border of Tandridge district, and Reigate and Banstead borough.

As the trouble raged on, local MPs George Gardiner for Reigate, and Sir Geoffrey Howe for East Surrey, called for an end to the anarchy.

But familiar headlines also featured, with the ever-changing face of Redhill town centre making news throughout the period.

Market Hall was demolished in 1983, after around 120 years, to be replaced by the Warwick Quadrant, Harlequin Theatre and library, and Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley brought star power to the opening of the Belfry shopping centre in October 1991.

Just as ASDA's plans to move into Redhill make headlines today, in March 1988 WH Smith announced plans to open four stores in Redhill and began a search for potential sites.

At the time, the retail giant announced plans for a stationers, travel shop, record store and DIY shop in the town centre, which the Reigate and Redhill Chamber of Commerce welcomed as a way to fill empty stores in the town centre.

Reigate and Banstead Borough Council was thrown into disarray in May 1988 as the eight members of the Labour group walked out following the election of the borough's 15th consecutive Conservative mayor, despite their nomination of 36-year veteran Labour councillor, Norman Smith, representative for Reigate South West.

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