Colin Grainger

The heartbeat of Newham

I worked at the Newham Recorder from An east London lad, I was born in Plaistow and was educated at Plaistow Grammar School. Newham has been and is my life, along with my wonderful family and friends, and the Newham Recorder is a newspaper that is obviously very close to my heart.

Newham Recorder - logoThe Newham Recorder

The Newham Recorder was formed back in 1968, three years after the old County Boroughs of East Ham and West Ham were brought together to form the London Borough of Newham. Prior to that , since the early 1900’s there had been the old East Ham Recorder, which was a slip edition of Newham’s sister paper , the Ilford Recorder.

The paper quickly established itself as the newspaper in the community and it acquired an unrivalled reputation for campaigning on behalf of its readers. Wherever important issues have arisen, the Recorder has been at the heart of the action, committed to supporting the local community in every sense of the word.

The Newham Recorder has had just two Editors in its history. The first, Tom Duncan, a close friend  and mentor for many years, went on to become a Freeman of Newham, in recognition of his work in the community.

The second was of course, myself. I joined the paper as a trainee reporter back in 1972, became the paper’s second Editor in 1999.

Working with the community

I’m very proud of the part the newspaper and I played in supporting the local community. In my time there, the Recorder won the national Community Newspaper of the Year Award and in recent years the paper and its staff have picked up a number of other awards.

One of the most successful campaigns the newspaper has run for more than 30 years, it the Christmas Toy Appeal for needy children, which is run in conjunction with care group and non-profit charity, Community Links. When we started the campaign we had a target of 500 toys, which we thought we would never reach. But we should never have doubted the power of the paper, nor the fantastic readers that have grown up with the paper. As the paper and Community Links have grown, so has the target. Last year, the community helped us raise over 13,000 toys, which were distributed to children locally over Christmas. We have had celebrities from all over the world launch our appeal each year – yet it’s the small, regular donations from pensioners, families or even children themselves that touch my heart and are testament for what I think makes Newham a special place to live and work .

A special place

Newham is unique in London in terms of its people, history and opportunities. It benefits from being a diverse, multicultural environment. Newham is redefining itself as a viable and attractive business for hundreds of local companies, as evidenced by the success of this year’s sensational Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Newham’s profile stepped up a gear when the Borough became the centrepiece of the London Olympics. Yet, thinking back, a day after being awarded the Games, Newham suffered its share of tragedy when lives were lost in the London Bombings. But out of that tragedy came a sense of community, a sense of unity, which made us all feel proud.

The borough stood firm with the rest of east London, the rest of London, and vowed to work together in peace and harmony and not to be beaten.

Newham is a place to live and work and to be proud of. Even though today, I’m no longer working at the Newham Recorder, following a company decision to merge it with another title, I hope it will remain the heartbeat of east London and will continue for many years to come .

Find out more

The Newham Recorder online –

Newham Council website –

Community Links website –


  1. Simon Thomas
    May 25, 2016

    Dear Colin,

    I’m in the process of researching a tower block called James Sinclair Point which was situated near Queens Park market from around 1968 (demolished in the early nineties). I wondered if you would have covered any stories relating to this building. It’s a real surprise that information has been hard to come by, considering it was one of the largest blocks in Europe when it was finished. I have tried different places to find out more, including the Royal Institute of British Architects and the local archives in Stratford.
    I would be grateful if you could help point me in the right direction should you know of anything; I did contact Newham Recorder a few years back but was led to believe that archived papers were hard to come by. Any information (recollections of any stories/photos) would be beneficial to my research.

    I look forward to hearing from you and thank you for your time.

    Kind Regards

    Simon Thomas

  2. Colin Grainger
    December 20, 2016

    Hi Simon.
    But due to an error, I have only just seen your comment.
    I have managed to save a few files from my time but sad to say that is not among them , though I do remember it.
    The Recorder recently through a number of files away, which is sad. But could I suggest you contact Jenni or Richard at Newham Archives on 020 3373 6881 (you have to make an appointment) to search their files. If you explain to them what you want they can dig out any files in advance.I know you said that you have already been there, but they have just had a restoration of some files and are in the process of doing more. So it may be worth another call to see if they have found any demoltion pics. The library does have all the Recorder’s file copies, so if you know dates they may be able to find material. Sorry again for the late reply. If you need any more my other email address colingrainger@btinternet. com is a better one to try while I try to fix the bug here.. Colin

    • Barry Cain
      October 19, 2017

      Hi Colin
      Sorry to trouble you but I wondered if you had any contact details for Pat Coughtrey who was News Editor on the Recorder for some years. I used to work with him when I was a trainee court reporter at Marlborough Street and haven’t seen him for some years.
      Many thanks.

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This article was written on 23 Jan 2013, and is filed under Colin Grainger, London, Newham, Newham Recorder, Newspapers.

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