Arctic weather

Yesterday’s fresh snow was merely one more cross for road users, pedestrians and the municipal services to bear in a week of arctic weather. The worst time had come on Sunday, after heavy falls of snow had been whipped into deep drifts by high winds. From 6am on Sunday Council workmen were engaged on road clearing, and at Watford Junction squads of soldiers helped to clear ice from points and crossings.

[January 4, 1963]

Council to save palace?

The Palace Theatre in Clarendon Road may become Watford’s Civic Theatre. This possibility was revealed at Tuesday’s meeting of Watford Town Council. But at the moment the matter seems to rest on whether the freeholders of the Palace will renew the lease when it falls due in four years’ time. The Palace is owned by the Watford Theatre Co. Ltd and occupies a site that is estimated to be worth over a quarter of a million pounds. If they refuse to renew the lease, it will spell doom for Watford’s theatre.

[January 4, 1963]

‘Help us beat crime’

Crimes recorded in Hertfordshire last year totalled 10,429 – the highest ever figure – the County Police revealed this week. The total represents an 11 per cent increase on the 1961 figure. The only possible counter-measure lies in the hands of the private citizens themselves, Chief Superintendent E.J. Player told the Observer. They can take considerably more care in securing their property and premises and greatly assist the police by reporting anyone or anything arousing their suspicions, he said. Far too frequently after break-ins had been discovered, said the superintendent, neighbours could be found who would say: “Now I come to think of it I did see a strange man…”

[January 11, 1963]

Ice battle continues

Watford experimented with a road burning machine on their pitch on Saturday morning and again on Monday but as the machine was spreading too much diesel oil over the ground, operation “de-frost” – costing £2 10s an hour – was abandoned. It was the second experiment that had proved unsatisfactory, for the pellets Watford tentatively tried out last week were found, on analysis, to contain ingredients harmful to the grass. Later in the week Watford tried yet another method of ridding the field of its icy coating. It was an agricultural “Rotavator” as used by Brighton on their pitch. Watford were eminently satisfied with the results achieved.

[January 18, 1963]

Footprints clue

A trail of footprints in the snow leading from one house to another in Carpenders Park ended in the arrest of - -, 17, of Penrose Avenue, Carpenders Park. Mrs Nye returned from work on January 1 and found among other things that her bedroom had been ransacked. She immediately called the police. When the police arrived they discovered footprints in the snow leading from Mrs Nye’s house to the kitchen door of the adjoining house, where - - lived.

[January 18, 1963]

Pupils delighted by change

“This is such a vast improvement that there is just no comparison.” This was the reply from Victoria Boys’ School Captain, 16-year-old Graham Wright, almost a week after the school had moved into its new building. Graham could hardly find words to describe their great pleasure with the new premises and at the privilege of being the first old Watford school to move into a completely new building. The new school, which is still in the throes of having the finishing touches put to it, and the still unoccupied and similarly laid-out girls’ section are situated on a 29-acre site on Tolpits Lane. This includes ample playing field space for both.

[January 18, 1963]

Observer’s hundred years of service

The West Herts and Watford Observer makes history today, for this is the Centenary Edition. The first Observer was printed on a hand-turned machine in premises in Queen’s Road. Today’s edition is produced by a 90-ton rotary press capable of printing over 30,000 copies in an hour. When the paper made its appearance on January 24, 1863, it was in a small agricultural district – a Watford with no proper drainage, no street lighting and no means of receiving news other than from coach travellers passing through. Today Watford is a thriving, busy town and 45,000 copies of the Observer are sold – the largest weekly circulation in Hertfordshire. In the first issue the founder made a promise. It was to be a paper designed for all classes – a paper for the people, he said. On this course the Observer set sail, and from it the paper has never intentionally wavered.

[January 25, 1963]

Statue investigation

Police-constable Bob Steel, on his last tour of duty with “Z-cars”, was called south on Friday to investigate the case of the discus thrower whose near-naked appearance in the town centre of Hemel Hempstead has led to charges of indecency from some quarters. The bronze statue was given to the New Town as a gift by Hemel Hempstead Development Corporation in the spring of last year. The Corporation added a fig-lead as an after-thought because they felt its nakedness might offend public dignity. And ever since controversy has raged. To some, the discus thrower is still offending decency. To others he is an example of manly art that should be encouraged.

[January 25, 1963]

What was happening in the world in January 1963?

• The Big Freeze of 1963 in the UK causes the cancellation of all but three of the scheduled third round matches of the FA Cup (January 3)

• The military government of Peru begins a nationwide roundup of suspected Communists, arresting more than 300 people (January 5)

• The musical Oliver! makes its debut on Broadway (January 6)

• A relatively rare total penumbral lunar eclipse takes place (January 9)

• The space program of Soviet Air Forces selects its second generation of cosmonauts (January 10)

• Please Please Me is released in the UK by The Beatles, and will become their first single to reach number one (January 11)

• The President of Togo, Sylvanus Olympio, is assassinated outside the United States Embassy in Lomé (January 13)

• The Rolling Stones first play together as a group at The Flamingo Club in London (January 14)

• Saudi Arabia and the UK resume diplomatic relations, more than six years after the two nations closed their embassies during the Suez Crisis (January 16)

• British MI5 agent Kim Philby disappears after having a drink with a colleague at a hotel in Beirut. Five months later, the Soviet Union would announce that he had been given asylum there and would confirm his identity as a Soviet spy (January 23)

• The Sino-Indian War formally comes to an end after India’s Parliament vote to approve the terms for peace with China, concluding the war between the world’s two most populous nations (January 23)

• The first democratic elections in the history of Kuwait take place (January 23)