A new owner for the former BHS store in Watford, a Garston hairdresser retiring after a 40-year career, an arson attack on a children’s playground and details of the incidents police responded to at the Pond were among the stories making our headlines five and ten years ago this week.


Plans for former Watford BHS unit in shopping centre revealed

Retailers Sports Direct and Uniqlo are set to move into former BHS stores in Watford.

Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct has bought the freehold of the former BHS store in Watford for £15m.

Watford Observer:

The store in the Parade closed in August

The 76,000 sq ft unit, which is located at 83-87 High Street next to the intu Watford shopping centre, was sold by LaSalle Investment Management on behalf of Coal Pension Properties, the property investment arm of the British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme (BCSSS) and the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme (MPS).

It was previously occupied by BHS until the department store chain fell into administration last summer and has been vacant since.

Watford Observer:

Mick Skinner has cut his last quiff

Four decades of perfect perms: Hairdresser retires after 42 years

A long-established hairdresser who has spent more than four decades tending to the barnets of Meriden residents is enjoying his first few days of retirement after handing over the reins to his two colleagues.

Mick Skinner has been trimming fringes and perfecting perms at Vogue hairdressers in The Gossamers, Garston, for 42 years.

But the 65-year-old and life-long Garston resident has now put down his comb and scissors for good, a moment which he admitted was “a little bit emotional”.

Customers and colleagues presented Mick with gifts to mark the occasion - including a meal for two at The Grove and “copious bottles” of booze - before he repaid the favour by treating his workmates to a meal at the Blue Check in Bushey.

Asked what he would do with all the extra free time, Mick said he would play more golf, go to the gym, cook and help around the house.

Watford Observer:

Watford Museum in Lower High Street is to undergo a revamp

Wanted: Architect for £2.2 million regeneration of Watford Museum

Watford Borough Council is looking for an architect for a £2.2 million regeneration of its Grade II-listed museum.

The winner of the £60,000 contract will draw up plans for a major overhaul of the history museum which occupies a former Georgian town house on Lower High Street near Watford town centre.

The project – dubbed ‘Making Connections’ and planned to complete in 2019 –will refurbish the landmark building; improve displays, storage and accessibility; and deliver a new modern extension.

According to the brief: ‘The “Making Connections” project looks at improving all aspects of the museum and the services it provides.

It will enable a transformation of the layout and displays, improve visitor access and enjoyment, better conserve and exhibit the collections and reduce energy costs.


Watford Observer:

Disappointment over playground arson

The ranger in charge of Leavesden Country Park has expressed his disappointment at the arson attack, which caused hundreds of pounds worth of damage to children’s play equipment.

Police and firefighters were called to the park on Easter Sunday at around 7.30am after residents in nearby houses reported seeing clouds of smoke.

The fire was extinguished within an hour but the area signed as Leavesden Play Space has been taped off while police investigate and extensive repairs will then need to be carried out.

The repair bill for the standalone equipment, which was installed late last year, is expected to reach £500.

Damien Weller, park ranger at Leavesden Country Park, said: “The park is a safe and attractive place for families, but instances of vandalism are totally unacceptable.

“This is extremely disappointing as a lot of people have put their hard work into creating the new equipment for the park and the children’s playground has proved tremendously popular.”

Watford Observer:

Guy Peskin played Jones in the Pump House production of Dad’s Army

Dad's Army is back in Watford

Few names are more synonymous with theatre in Watford than that of Jimmy Perry OBE. So it is with much enthusiasm that The Pump House Theatre Company present episodes from his award-winning sitcom Dad’s Army.

First screened in 1968, the TV show was based in part on Jimmy’s experiences in the Local Defence Volunteers (later the Home Guard) as a teenager prior to call-up in World War Two.

The character of Pike was closely styled on Jimmy, who had been 17 years old when he joined the 10th Hertfordshire Battalion and his co-writer, the late David Croft, worked as an ARP warden.

It is this authenticity that won the pair the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain awards in 1969, 1970 and 1971. Jimmy also won the Ivor Novello Award for the series’ theme song, Who do you think you are kidding Mr Hitler?, sung by Bud Flanagan.

Watford Observer:

Fights and fishing among misdemeanours at Parade pond

Fights and fishing among misdemeanours at Parade pond

Police have been called to Watford town centre’s pond to break up fights in the water, stop illegal fishing and prevent children playing on the ice in the last three years.

Figures released by Hertfordshire Constabulary show officers have attended the water feature, in The Parade, 12 times since January 2009.

The pond is maintained by Watford Borough Council and has wildlife living in it.

According to the figures, in 2009 police were called to four pond related incidents. These included a man and child fishing and other children trying to steal the fish.

In August 2009, officers were called to two men fighting in the pond.