Stage and radio star Jessie Matthews, who died last week aged 74, had a 20-year association with Watford because of a chance meeting on a Metropolitan train journey.

Miss Matthews, who then lived at Northwood, met Mrs Rae Ball, of Orbital Crescent, Garston, on a train going to Baker Street. A friendship was struck up and she became a frequent visitor to the home of Mrs Ball and her husband Charles. She lived with them for eight years.

And it was from Garston that she left for Buckingham Palace to become an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1980.

Miss Matthews maintained a warm and close friendship with the Garston couple and when she sold her cottage in Dorset she stayed with them during the negotiations until she bought a house in Hatch End.

Last year, the former Mrs Dale of the radio programme Mrs Dale’s Diary gave a charity concert at Watersmeet, Rickmansworth, in aid of St Vincent’s Hospital, where she had undergone a hip operation.

[From the Watford Observer of August 28, 1981]

NOSTALGIA NOTE: Jessie Matthews OBE (1907-1981) was an English actress, dancer and singer. For a number of years she was voted one of the top ten stars in Britain at the box office, rising as high as third in 1937. She is buried at St Martin’s Church, Ruislip.

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