Book Review: Linda Rhodes and Kathryn Abnett ~ The Romford Outrages: the murder of Inspector Thomas Simmons, 1885 (2009)

The beauty of local history is it offers a terrific opportunity for fascinating minutiae which is lost in academic writing. The Romford Outrage has rigour as well as wonderful microscopic detail. For people in Havering there’s the joy of ‘knowing’ the locality. The book opens with an incident on South Street, Romford, where Simmons shows his heroic personality.

Another aspect of local history is the opportunity for lavish illustrations, which add to the story. The authors have 61 none of which are padding. Taken together this book is irresistible.

One of those convicted of murder wrote about the causes of crime in an amazingly modern way and his preference for the death penalty,

“….he wrote that of all the terrors awaiting the convict, including the ‘cat’* and hard labour, it was the long periods of silent, solitary confinement which had filled him with most dread and had contributed most to his alienation from honest society. He asserted that the three major causes of crime were heredity, locality and the police system.” p154

I thoroughly enjoyed this well written book, which is an excellent example of local history.

* Cat of nine tails. For more information see’_nine_tails#:~:text=The%20cat%20o%27%20nine%20tails%2C%20commonly%20shortened%20to,judicial%20punishment%20in%20Britain%20and%20some%20other%20countries.

Available on Kindle for £3.99

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