Author Archives: barrattkirk

About barrattkirk

The name was my Mother's fault and I did get ribbed at school so became unofficially Barry. Photo-journalist of 40 years experience in news media, Deputy Editor of Romford Recorder and promoted to Editor of sister paper Barking and Dagenham Post. Now freelance with small publishing and photographic services company. Studied Zoology at Open University and became a journalist! Sail with London Sailing Project, great interest in the Arts and just started an Arts Blog for Havering and surrounding areas. Hold photographic exhibitions with acrylic artist and examples of my work on


I have been on my travels again. Two weeks in Italy and four months sorting out the photographs and writing a full colour A4 Travelogue on Milan to join the previous publication on the Medici inspired city of Florence. The aim is at make tourism more of a pleasure instead of a daily […]




Red Moon full on

Romford is not exactly a sleepy market town, but if you see this over Raphael Park lake – RUN

Not perhaps the most inspiring headline I have ever dreamt up, but then again neither is our town at that witching hour unless you enjoy wandering around with a camera round your neck.


This would seem a good idea and usually the rapid response of the pond occupants

It is easy for me as I happen to have spent almost five decades in this town doing just that as well as earning a living in Havering and Barking and Dagenham media as a photo-journalist and latterly deputy editor of the Romford Recorder and editor of the Barking and Dagenham Post. Not that it makes me anything other than very lucky as it is the best job in the world and the most interesting, for this town has a lot going for it, not counting the traffic wardens of course, but that is another story.


Chocks away as the new brood come out of their shells

While on the Recorder I produced a special supplement on the history of Romford from the little crossing over the river Rom to one of the major influences on outer London. First as the major Market town where herds of cattle, pigs and sheep beat their way to cobbled town centre with cattle pens and apparently 16 pubs to keep the drovers amused hoping that their stock was bought and they were able to stagger home with a full purse.


St Edwards Church in the Market Place as never seen before

As you can imagine Wednesdays and Saturdays were quite volatile and noisy for a quite stroll, but the atmosphere was amazing. Not that I was there I hasten to add, but we had our own flower girl who became a legend in her own right. Nelly Sims and her husband Harry kept their shop in the old arcade a few steps up from Golden Lion corner where most of the populace always seemed to gather.

Never one to refuse the limelight, Nelly was a focus for kindness, giving and the wildest sense of humour ever seen. She was a friend to everyone generous to a fault and most walking by usually got a little buttonhole as a gift. Of course returning late for one of her spectacular bouquets which needed two hand to carry and a man with a red flag to clear a way through shoppers, but she was a real treasure.

So there you have it, a very brief to introduction of times gone by when the Licensing laws were in force and lunchtime in the Golden Lion came to an abrupt finish at 2.30 in the afternoon with the photographic units retiring to the darkroom to spend a few hours sobering up by creating the unusual examples of their art.



Bob Marks

Bob Marks

Becoming a legend is something good musicians do without trying, and one such was Romford’s own Bob Marks.

A unique character full of enthusiasm and love which he spread around like magic dust to everyone he encountered.

Singer, Ukulele player and instigator of achievement in others, he came up with ‘you can do it’, long before President Obama.

It took cancer to take him away but the man’s influence lingers on in a powerful lot of fellow musicians and those of us who have been inspired by his ultimate, ‘nothing is impossible’ dream.

Jane Marks with daughters, Katie, Lucy, Wendy and Cheryl with Matt Jones (left)

Jane Marks with daughters, Katie, Lucy, Wendy and Cheryl with Matt Jones (left)

He sadly passed on last month but such was his charisma, he did not leave a gap but a milestone pointing the way to achieving personal ambitions.

By way of tribute, his band, The Blue Cheese Jam Band, did a magnificent job of lifting the roof off the Crown Pub in Roneo Corner of Saturday August 6, where followers gathered and turned a free for all jam session into an event that will fondly live on in many memories.

Such is Bob’s legacy to music in Havering. He achieved it with the phenomenal support of his wife Jane and daughters Katie, Lucy, Wendy and Cheryl, all of whom were at the Saturday gig, laughing and singing as if Bob was standing next to them, which of course he was in spirit.

He was irreplaceable but somehow it has been achieved by Matt Jones, a brilliant singer with a personality and presentation that matches Bob in every way.

Matt Jones will be leading the band on Wednesday nights at the Crown in Roneo Corner

Matt Jones will be leading the band on Wednesday nights at the Crown in Roneo Corner

The Blue Cheese Band is continuing its weekly gig at the Crown Pub on Roneo Corner, every Wednesday beginning at nine in the evening and going through to the witching hour.

Jam banding is open to all and this is quality music from Blues to Rock, delivered by ‘Museos’ who get as much fun out of playing as the regular audience do in joining in and dancing.

With Matt fronting the band, the tradition Bob Marks created is continuing, not only in tribute, but in recognition that live music is best heard and enjoyed.

Something held very close to Bob’s heart.



The sun certainly has got its hat on as the Romford Summer Theatre (RST) start preparations for the second week of Shakeapeare’s MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

Swan Song or last four performances of much Ado About Nothing in Raphael Park

Swan Song or last four performances of much Ado About Nothing in Raphael Park

Gone is the plague on both our houses with days of thundery rain and shafts of sunlight, Mr Fish person at the BBC has promised much better weather and the show will definitely  go on.

The opening night, Thursday June 16, saw four performances with the Sunday Matinee attracting a large audience. The cast is now preparing for Wednesday Sponsors night (not open to the public) and the final three shows from Thursday June 23 to Saturday June 25.

All start at 8pm on the Rockery, Raphael Park, Main Road, Romford, with a 20 minute interval for tea and cake.

The stage is the top end of the park alongside the lake.

The worthy and dried out cast are:

Paul Sparrowham and Lindsay Hollingsworth are the main characters Benedick and Beatrice.

Tickets are from £10 or £8 and available from the Rockery entrance or the website




They call it dedication to their art, but Sunday’s blast of the wet stuff did nothing to put off the Heroes of Romford Summer Theatre’s Much Ado About Nothing rehearsal.


Under the direction of June Fitzgerald, (above) the large cast squelched its way through the entire performance bringing a new meaning to the word ‘soggy’

The inclement blast brought out the best in designer plastic bags and past sell by date umbrellas usually found discarded in the rubbish bins that litter the park.


The reason for the dedication to the ‘Show Must Go On’ was the full production of the seven performances, begins this coming Thursday, June 16, and the final batch of rehearsals need to be acted out to hone the entrances and exits.

Much Ado is reportedly one of the Bard’s funniest plays and much enjoyed by actors and audiences alike, even if the elements interfere.


Shakespeare in the Park not only celebrates the 400th anniversary of the Bard but brings the company to its own special 54th year of productions the park.

The seven performances are from 8pm on Thursday to Saturday June 16-18 and again from Thursday June June 23 to Saturday June 25 with a matinee on Sunday June 19 which begins at 3pm.

Tickets will be available at the Rockery entrance or on line on, price £10 and £8.



Raphael Prk Fountain 3wcopyright

The annual Shakespeare in the Park is becoming a race to see how many broken bones make a sonnet.

Much ado posterCast members including the director turn up at rehearsals swathed in bandages after a series of falls and one even suffered while filling the car with petrol.

Don’t ask!

But being a resourceful lot the production of Much Ado about Nothing, is going ahead with seven performances beginning on June 16 accompanied with various NHS mobility aids.

Much ado is one of the Bard’s funniest plays, but not even he encountered the challenging assault course experienced by some of the cast.

Bedfords at dusk wThe score is two at the moment so nervous glances to see who is next abound as well as reading from cover to cover of the Health and Safety manual.

Despite the tumbles, all is in the best traditions of the show must go on, even with an assortment of Zimmer frames and wheelchairs with the odd pair of walking crutches propping up the bushes Just in case.

Swan in the middleDirector, June Fitzgerald had become quite accomplished at waving her limb encased in more bandages than carried by a fleet of LAS finest emergency vehicles, and trials are going on with propelled wheelchair for Lorraine Ely, who is playing the volatile mum,  Leonata. She is the arm waving protector of her beloved daughter, Hero, played by El Burgess.

There has been talk of camouflaging the volunteer extra who is charged with pushing the chair while disguised as an oak sapling.

Lorraine Ely and Paul Sparrowham

Lorraine Ely and Paul Sparrowham

As for the play, that is going well, with Lindsay Hollingsworth and Paul Sparrowham as the war torn couple, Benedict and Beatrice, doing battle even before marriage in the best EastEnders style, with the rest  of us diving for cover during the more interesting bouts.

Now in its 54th year, Romford Summer Theatre traditionally performs a Shakespearean comedy annually at the Rockery in Raphael Park, Main Road, Romford.

The setting is perfect for the excitement, fun and literary excellence of his works.

Each year the lighting team bathe the giant Oak trees and rockery in an explosion of colours, creating theatre under the stars and a vision not easily forgotten once seen. 

Lindsey Hollingworth, Lorraine Ely and El Burgess

Lindsey Hollingworth, Lorraine Ely and El Burgess

All the players are amateur but drawn from the many drama societies that give Havering a  much envied name for traditional and new theatre.

The seven performances are  from 8pm on Thursday to Saturday June 16-18, again from Thursday June 23 to Saturday June 25 with a matinee on Sunday June 19 which begins at 3pm.

Tickets will be available at the Rockery entrance or on line, price £10 and £8.