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News flashback: Gas blast horror on Friday the 13th and a magician’s headline predictions come true

PUBLISHED: 18:40 16 March 2017 | UPDATED: 18:40 16 March 2017

The Gazette 30 years ago

The Gazette 30 years ago

Archant

Every week the Gazette will delve into its archives to see what was happening in Hackney 30 and 60 years ago.

The Gazette 60 years ago The Gazette 60 years ago

The Gazette reported in 1987 on a “gas blast horror” that saw a “superstitious” pensioner found dead in the rubble, still clutching her key.

Nellie Ringe, 77, was killed when the massive gas explosion ripped through her home in Farleigh Road, Stoke Newington on March 13 – Friday the 13th.

According to her neighbours, Nellie didn’t like to tempt fate, and believed in age-old superstition.

The force of the exposion blew out the whole of the front and the rear of the house, and shattered windows in surrounding homes up to a quarter of a mile away. Three other tenants, including a 69-year-old woman, escaped unharmed.

Paula Janz, 18, reported hearing a “terrific bang” before the front and back walls collapsed.

The New Islington and Hackney housing association estimated it would cost £100,000 to rebuild the house.

In 1967 A magician who had vowed to accurately predict the headline of the main news story in the Gazette did so – or at least appeared to.

Jack Jansen, a former variety stage magician, had brought his prediction in a sealed envelope to the Gazette office two weeks before.

It was kept in a safe until, in the presence of a very critical panel of journalists and competitors, the envelope was opened by the editor. He took out a piece of paper where it was written under the date March 15 “Grid Kids Track Offer to Firm”. He had also written that sums of £8,000 and £70,000 would be involved and that a director of the firm would be upset. These indeed were facts in the news story, the Gazette reported.

When asked whether it was a clever trick or sheer coincidence, Mr Jansen replied: “It’s a gift. I first discovered I could do this when I was a boy.”

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