Plans to build a tower block, a band making waves on X-Factor, farewell to the ‘church in a cupboard’ and a bus displaying the artwork of the designer of one of the most famous album covers were among the stories helping to make our headlines five and ten years ago this week.


Enormous 23-storey tower block containing no affordable housing could be built in central Watford

Plans to build a 23-storey tower block in central Watford could be set in motion next week – although the applicant says it cannot afford to provide any low-cost housing.

Clarendon Road Developments wants to turn the site – currently home to two office buildings – into a part 23, part eight-storey tower containing 154 flats, café and restaurant spaces on the ground and ninth floors, a first floor gym, a landscaped rooftop area, and 11,000 sq m of office space.

Watford Observer: An artist's impression of the two tier tower.An artist's impression of the two tier tower. (Image: .)

Watford Borough Council’s housing policy requires 35 per cent social housing in all schemes of 10 units or more, and only considers a lower level of affordable housing provision in “exceptional circumstances”.

However, following the completion of a viability study, Clarendon Road Developments concluded that it could not provide any affordable housing, either on-site or in the form of a financial contribution.

Watford Observer: Rak-Su.Rak-Su. (Image: Syco / Thames)

The Watford band sailing through X Factor with original music

Rak-Su is a four-piece boyband hailing from Watford who can currently be seen competing on ITV’s X Factor competition.

All aged 24 and 25, the young men got off to a shaky start in their audition when Simon Cowell interrupted their rendition of Justin Timberlake’s Señorita to say: “That’s not working for me. Can I hear a different song?”

They then performed their own original tune, I’m Feeling You.

They were almost in trouble again at Boot Camp but pulled it back with another original song, Knock Knock. They then breezed through the Six Chair Challenge with yet another one of their own tracks, Change Your Mind.

The group is made up of Ashley (rapper, songwriter and poet) Jamaal (singer, songwriter) Myles (rapper, producer) Mustafa (DJ, dancer, beatboxer).

Watford Observer: Major General George Pearkes in his army uniform.Major General George Pearkes in his army uniform. (Image: .)

Watford war hero to be commemorated on 100th anniversary of Victoria Cross award

A commemorative paving slab dedicated to a Watford war hero will be unveiled in the town centre next week - on the 100th anniversary of him receiving the Victoria Cross.

Major General George Pearkes was born in 1888, living over the draper’s shop run by his family in the centre of Watford.

After emigrating to Canada, where he joined the Royal Mounted Police, Major General Pearkes enlisted as a private in the Canadian Mounted Rifles in 1915.

He came to Europe to fight in the First World War and by 1917 he was leading a Canadian unit in the Battle of Passchendaele.

It was here that he was awarded the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest service award for gallantry, for leading attacks on the German lines on October 30 and 31, 1917.


Farewell to the 'church in a cupboard'

A church service to say farewell to a community church dubbed “the church in a cupboard” was “a lovely occasion” said a neighbouring vicar.

St Hilda’s Church, based in Leavesden Green Community Centre, Clarke Way, held a farewell service to say goodbye after 27 years. The decision to close its doors came due to a decline in clergy and resources.

Watford Observer: St Hilda's last service.St Hilda's last service. (Image: Newsquest)

Reverend Chris Davey, vicar of All Saints, in All Saints Crescent, held the farewell service on Sunday, October 21.

Rev Davey said: "The service went really well and both churches came together. It was a very lovely occasion."

Watford Observer: Shanti Gallery owner Michael Green and Ann Hicks of the CCA with the Peter Blake pop art bus.Shanti Gallery owner Michael Green and Ann Hicks of the CCA with the Peter Blake pop art bus. (Image: Newsquest)

Bus with Sir Peter Blake artworks visits Kings Langley

A bus displaying the work of the father of British Pop Art has made a special visit to Kings Langley.

Sir Peter Blake is best-known as the designer of the sleeve of the Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and a travelling CCA Art Gallery bus displaying many of his original limited edition pieces was parked in the village High Street last Thursday, October 18.

The event was held in conjunction with Shanti Art Gallery in the High Street and some of the pieces from the Peter Blake collection were also displayed in the gallery.

Michael Green, owner of the gallery, said: "It was fantastic and even though I didn’t have any expectations before the day, had I done so, it would have exceeded them by a country mile.”

Watford Observer: Scott Duxbury.Scott Duxbury. (Image: Newsquest)

Duxbury targets 15,000 attendance

Watford's chief executive hopes the club can raise the average attendance at Vicarage Road this season to around 15,000 – an increase of more than 3,000 compared to the number who currently watch the Hornets regularly.

The Golden Boys’ average attendance in the Championship this season, prior to Saturday, was 11,700 but CEO Scott Duxbury is confident that figure can be increased significantly, after a crowd of almost 16,000 was recorded against Peterborough United at the weekend.

The game was a ‘Family Day’ fixture, with tickets costing £10 for adults and £1 for Under-16s.

Saturday’s crowd has provided Duxbury with optimism and he is hoping a couple of new initiatives will help raise the club’s average attendance in the future.