Third man still missing

The inquest was opened yesterday on the two men whose bodies were recovered by frogmen from the Piper Apache plane which plunged into Hillfield reservoir seconds after taking off from Elstree Aerodrome on Saturday afternoon. The owner of the plane, Herbert Hannah (47) was identified by Elstree Aerodrome Air Traffic Controller, Mr Peter Wood. The body of Mr Michael Alfred Gardiner (26) was identified by Mr Glynn T. Evans.

[February 2, 1968]

Burns’ night

By the dim light of dozens of candles, local lads and lasses who have either crossed the border, are descended from Scots, or married them, joined together in Watford Town Hall on Friday to pay traditional tribute to the immortal memory of their national poet, Robert Burns. It was Watford and West Herts Scottish Society’s 48th Burns’ dinner dance. Once again that well-known actress, radio personality and friend of the society, Molly Weir, was among the guests and, on this occasion, delivered a most impressive ode to the slightly mysterious but much respected and enjoyed haggis.

[February 2, 1968]

In Mainz

A 15-strong Watford delegation has just returned from a visit to its partner city, Mainz, on the Rhine. The occasion was the celebrations surrounding the 500th anniversary of the death of Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of moveable type. In the course of a busy week the delegates went to the Mainz Town Hall, where they were received by Oberburgermeister Jockel Fuchs, seen watching Watford’s Mayor, Councillor Doris Scawen, sign the visitors’ book.

[February 9, 1968]

Gleam of hope

There is a gleam of hope for residents in Oxhey and Carpenders Park that their street lighting – described as the worst in the Watford Rural district – will be much better next winter, and this should mark the beginning of a growing improvement. Herts County Council has now taken over responsibility for street lighting from Watford Rural Council, and the county lighting engineer, Mr N. Zuman, paid a special visit to Wednesday’s meeting of Watford Rural Parish Council to tell them of the county’s plans. He explained that when the county council took over, a survey was carried out and they found among many other faults there were 172 faulty lamp columns in Carpenders Park and Oxhey and lighting equipment was in a bad state.

[February 9, 1968]

The perfect secretary

If visitors to local business offices this week are pleasantly surprised by the extra-charming welcome they receive from well-spoken secretaries, it is probable that the latter are graduates of a one-day seminar held on Wednesday for “successful secretaries”. Organised by Watford Chamber of Commerce, the course covered not only the basic shorthand and typewriting skills but advised aspirants to the heights of personal assistant posts of the qualities needed to bridge the gap. Practical guidance on good appearance, effective telephone manner, becoming well-read, broadening personal interests, developing resourcefulness and aids to being beautiful inside the office were just a few of the subjects dealt with by experts.

[February 9, 1968]

Instant cash machine

A Watford bank which specialises in “firsts” where modernisation schemes are concerned has installed a day and night cash dispenser service. The opening ceremony will be performed today by the Mayor in the front entrance of the Westminster Bank in Watford High Street. Already, over 10 per cent of customers have been issued with a coded plastic card to enable them to make use of the machine.

[February 9, 1968]

Palace ‘tightens the rein’

After hearing that the town council were cutting their contribution to Watford’s Palace Theatre, Mr Tony Barlow, the theatre’s manager, said this week: “We shall carry on as we are, but with a tighter rein.” But Mr Barlow declined to comment on allegations of overspending made at Monday’s meeting of the council. The council reduced by £830 a recommended contribution from the rates of £17,850 after the Finance Committee Chairman, Alderman R.W. Gamble, had criticised the scale of the theatre’s expenses. “I am reluctantly led to the conclusion that there have been extravagances in the past which could and should have been avoided,” he said.

[February 16, 1968]

House hunting rush

Would-be house purchasers will have to hurry if the present heavy turnover trend continues in the local property market. Several Watford estate agents report that their “stocks” are considerably lower than they were a few months ago. One firm, with 350 properties on its books in November, now has only 150 to offer clients. One apparent result is a slight increase in prices. The demand has not been confined to medium-priced houses but includes those in the £10,000 range.

[February 23, 1968]

What was happening in the world in February 1968?

• Richard Nixon announces his candidacy for the Republican Party nomination for President of the United States (February 1)

• Second in line to the throne Princess Benedikte of Denmark marries Richard zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg (February 3)

• The world’s largest hovercraft is launched. It runs as a commercial service for 22 years (February 4)

• The 1968 Winter Olympics opens in Grenoble in the French Alps (February 6)

• The Orangeburg massacre takes place in South Carolina, when highway patrol officers fire into a crowd of African American students on the South Carolina State College campus. Three students are killed (February 8)

• The Netherlands inaugurates its first subway transit system, the Rotterdam Metro (February 9)

• US Army General Earle G. Wheeler calls a press conference after rumours circulate that he had told a congressional committee hearing that he would not rule out using nuclear weapons in the Vietnam War (February 14)

• The world’s first 911 emergency call is placed in Haleyville, Alabama (February 16)

• The emirs of Abu Dhabi and Dubai announce their decision to make a federation of their two emirates, in what would be the first step in creating the United Arab Emirates (February 18)

• Lester Pearson gave the first-ever televised address by a Prime Minister of Canada to the nation (February 20)

• University students in Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt, begin an uprising in support of an ongoing workers’ strike. In the week that followed, 635 people would be arrested (February 21)

• The first victim of a Scottish serial killer, nicknamed ‘Bible John’ by the media, is found in Glasgow (February 23)

• Fleetwood Mac release their debut album (February 24)

• 22 female patients are killed when a fire sweeps through their ward at the Shelton Hospital, a mental health institution just outside Shrewsbury, England (February 26)