Car crash paralyses town

These graphic pictures show the aftermath of the crash on Cassio Bridge in Rickmansworth Road which paralysed Watford just before the Monday morning rush hour. A 10-ton lorry travelling towards Rickmansworth ploughed into the bridge parapet at 7.20am, and finished up hanging over the edge, half on its side, supported by the superstructure of the footbridge running alongside. The driver escaped with slight injuries. The police feared that the combined weight of the fully-laden lorry and the 50-ton crane which had to be used to move it would cause the 100-year-old bridge to collapse altogether. So, with the cooperation of council workmen, the 15 tons of salt sacks the lorry was carrying were unloaded before the crane was brought up. Traffic flow was restricted to single lane and queues piled up as far as Rickmansworth.

[January 7, 1966]

University for rebels

A man who has been called “the greatest contemporary artist of the decade” – and who has just recently been let out of prison after running off to Ireland with a ward of court – is starting a “university for rebels” in his Bushey studio. “I want as students young artists who are not satisfied with current methods of teaching – I want the rebels,” William Morris (30) told John Gade. In his one-room studio-cum-living accommodation at Meadow Studios, Bushey, he spoke of his plans. “This,” he said, indicating the canvas-cluttered room, “is the headquarters of the Art Department of the new Free University of London.” Free University of London is the name Mr Morris has chosen for his school – and the idea is that the one class he is starting can expand as more students and tutors become interested.

[January 7, 1966]

‘Don’t wall us in’

Angry residents of Colne Way, Watford, are protesting about the borough council’s proposals to build a concrete fence around part of the Meriden Estate, which they say would “make the noise from the bypass unbearable”. The council’s decision to “fence off” Meriden Estate from the bypass followed two deaths on the road in the past year – both due to pedestrians crossing the road through a hole in the present wire enclosure round the estate. Mr Kenneth Grantham, of Colne Way, this week described the proposed fence as “a hideous Berlin wall”. Mr Grantham fears that a concrete fence would have the effect of “rebounding” the sound of vehicles on the bypass, making the noise “unbearable”.

[January 14, 1966]

Prepare for rates shock

Hertfordshire ratepayers will have to dig even deeper into their pockets than was originally expected to meet the cost of education during the coming year. After slashing more than a quarter of a million off its estimate, Herts Education Committee is now faced with a Government demand for a bigger contribution towards teachers’ pensions, which will add £269,490 to the education bill. This means a 13 ½ per cent increase in education costs compared with the 12 ½ per cent increase the Education Committee had proposed.

[January 21, 1966]

Obsolete schools

The contrast between conditions in post-war primary schools and the older pre-war schools in the county is becoming increasingly intolerable, members of the Herts Education Committee were told by its primary sub-committee on Monday. The Department of Education and Science has given approval to seven primary school projects in the county – but not one is for the replacement of an old sub-standard school. This brought protests from County Cllr Mrs Cory-Wright, who declared: “We are now in the situation where we are back in an absolute morass of old, obsolete schools.” Yet people who had to send their children to these old schools had to pay the same heavy rates, she went on, and described some old primary schools in the county with practically no heating, very little light and appalling sanitary conditions. One school was in a “temporary” building – where it had been for 40 years.

[January 21, 1966]

Five day opening

Watford’s shopping pattern is being re-fashioned from the end of this week. The four big department stores – Clements, Cawdells, Trewins and the Co-Op’s Gade House – have agreed together to launch the experiment of losing all day Monday, and keeping open all day Wednesday. This will give the customer a consistent five consecutive shopping days, and the shop assistants two consecutive days off duty. Executives of the “Big Four” stores naturally hope that other shops will follow the five-day lead.

[January 21, 1966]

New ambulance

The St John Ambulance Brigade – always there on the touchline, at the big match, or operating a first aid post at the carnival, yet so often forgotten in this age of National Health Services – was honoured on Monday at Watford Rotary Club’s luncheon. The club handed over a new £1,500 ambulance to No. 53 Watford and Bushey Ambulance Division of the brigade, paid for by subscription by Rotarians. The ambulance will be used at all major public functions which members attend, and in addition it will be used to “bridge the gap” in the National Health Services.

[January 28, 1966]

What was happening in the world in January 1966?

• A military coup brought Colonel Jean-Bédel Bokassa into power in the Central African Republic (January 1)

• Actor Ronald Reagan announced he would seek the Republican nomination for Governor of California (January 4)

• Bobby Baker, who had been a chief advisor to Lyndon Johnson, was indicted by a federal grand jury for theft, tax evasion and misappropriation of funds (January 5)

• Singers Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh appeared together for the first time under the name the Grateful Dead (January 6)

• Harold Robert Perry became the first African American in more than 90 years to be made a Roman Catholic bishop (January 6)

• Following protests, William Gopallawa, the Governor-General of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), declared a state of emergency (January 8)

• For the first time, a radar signal was detected from the planet Venus (January 9)

• Landslides in Rio de Janeiro following heavy rains resulted in the deaths of at least 363 people (January 10)

• The television series Batman, starring Adam West, debuted in the US (January 12)

• Police in Beverly Hills foiled a plot to kidnap millionaire Leonard Firestone, but inadvertently killed the informant who had alerted them to the plot (January 13)

• Robert Menzies, the Prime Minister of Australia, announced in a nationally broadcast address that he would resign (January 20)

• The corpse of Sir Abubakar Balewa, the Prime Minister of Nigeria who had been kidnapped five days earlier, was found on a roadside near Lagos (January 21)

• Bob Knievel put on his first show as Evel Knievel in California (January 23)

• The three Beaumont children disappear in South Australia. No trace of them was ever found and the crime remains unsolved (January 26)

• The UK announced that it was halting nearly all trade with the southern African nation of Rhodesia (January 30)