A matter of personal taste

Watford students’ Rag magazine has been attacked as “22 pages of pornography” by a Croxley Green woman. Mrs Georgina Child, in a letter to the Watford Observer, describes the contents of the magazine as extremely offensive. Mrs Child said that her 12-year-old daughter bought a copy of the Rag Mag in Watford High Street on Saturday. On seeing the magazine I was very disturbed on several counts. First the contents of the publication, in my opinion, are extremely offensive,” writes Mrs Child. “Secondly, I deplore that a magazine of this type should be on sale in a public place in the name of charity.”

[March 3, 1972]

8 lanes on the M1

Plans to widen the notorious stretch of the M1 between Watford and Hemel Hempstead into a massive eight lane motorway were announced in the House of Commons this week. Mr Graham Page, Minister for Local Government and Development, said in answer to questions from local MPs that planning and design work are to start at once and work should be finished in 1976. An RAC spokesman commented: “We are overjoyed. This is long overdue in our opinion. It has been a ridiculous situation for a long period, with traffic going down from three lanes to two at Watford, and then back again to two at Hemel Hempstead.”

[March 10, 1972]

Cyanide scare

A cyanide dumping scare came to the district this week when on Tuesday it was reported that cyanide drums had been seen on waste land in an alleyway from Kewferry Road, Northwood. The spot is a favourite play area for children and the alarm was raised by Mrs Dorothy Gwynne-Jones. She told police she had seen the drums about three weeks ago. She added that they were empty and so she did nothing about it at the time. But when she saw on television that even empty cyanide drums were possibly dangerous, she went back and saw one of the drums still there. It was guarded by police until it was removed by workmen from Hillingdon Borough Council. A search has begun to find the missing drum.

[March 10, 1972]

Vital town centre

The first details of a comprehensive redevelopment scheme in central Watford going beyond the already approved Central Car Park Redevelopment Scheme will go before the borough council at their meeting on Monday. The council will be asked to approve plans to make all the land bounded by Beechen Grove, Derby Road, Queen’s Road, High Street and Clarendon Road, together with land to the north of Beechen Grove, a Comprehensive Development Area.

[March 17, 1972]

Purge on dirty books

Writer and television personality Malcolm Muggeridge is coming to Watford in May as part of a big Festival of Light campaign to “stir up” opinion on morals and pornography. Books and magazines sold by local newsagents will be investigated and every householder in the borough asked to sign a petition. Malcolm Muggeridge will be the main speaker at a massive rally in the town hall on May 2. The organiser, Reverend Robin Rees, said: “We are doing a survey of newsagents in the area and we are asking local folk to look into this.”

[March 17, 1972]

‘Give us work’

Marchers demanding work came through Watford on Thursday on their way from Liverpool to a national meeting at Wembley. About 50 people from the Right to Work Campaign March stayed at the Small Trades Union Hall, Woodford Road, as guests of Watford and District Trades Council. Other groups marched to Wembley from all over the country.

[March 17, 1972]

Fear a riot

A call for the resignation for the organising committee of Woodside Community Centre has come from residents fed up with the rowdy behaviour of youths having dances at the hall in The Brow. Now residents have demanded police protection on Saturday when another dance is being held at the centre. Said one mother: “We know that the people who canned Monday night’s row are coming back from Harrow and Burnt Oak. There is going to be a riot and we will have to protect ourselves again. There are only five people on the centre’s committee – it should be 16. We want the centre closed until there has been an AGM and a full committee elected.”

[March 24, 1972]

Mothers demand action

Some Watford mothers have called for a complete rethink over the layout of the children’s play area near the paddling pool in Cassiobury Park. One solution, they feel, would be to set up an adventure playground. The area was described as “appalling” by one mother at a St Andrew’s Ward meeting on Monday evening – and she asked local councillors to press for an improvement in conditions there. The mothers’ grumbles began when they formed a toddlers’ club and wanted to take the children to the park. “We telephoned the town hall to ask them where the best playground was, and they said in Cassiobury Park. But if that is the best what on earth are the rest like?” she added.

[March 31, 1972]

Palace polishes its image

A radical change in the image of Watford Palace Theatre is now under way with the prime aim of attracting young people who regard theatre as “formal, boring and old-fashioned”. Stephen Hollis, the 30-year-old artistic director, told the annual meeting of the Theatre Patrons Club that the next few years were crucial for the continued existence of live theatre in Watford. He said he would employ “sensational methods” to convince the borough that a new theatre is both desirable and worthwhile when the present building becomes due for demolition. The meeting at the Town Hall on Saturday was told that the club were facing ever-rising costs, but that a successful year of social events had compensated to some extent.

[March 31, 1972]

What was happening in the world in March 1972?

• Pioneer 10 was launched from Cape Kennedy, bearing a message for alien civilisations. It would become the first man-made object to depart the solar system on June 13, 1983 (March 2)

• A plane flying from New York to Los Angeles was half an hour into its flight when officials were notified it had a time bomb on board. The plane returned to JFK and police defused the explosive with 12 minutes to spare (March 7)

• Abortion was legalised in East Germany (March 9)

• Broadcaster Larry King was cleared of charges of grand larceny that had been brought by a former business partner (March 10)

• The Godfather debuted in five cinemas in New York City and would set a record (which stood until 1975) for the highest-grossing film in history (March 15)

• A 160 vehicle pileup on the M1 motorway at Luton, England, killed nine people and injured 51 (March 16)

• UK Prime Minister Edward Heath announced direct rule from London after half a century of Northern Irish autonomy (March 24)

• The last original episode of the TV series Bewitched was broadcast (March 25)

• Northern Ireland’s Parliament, the Stormont, met for the very last time (March 28)

• For the first time since 1966, authorities in East Germany opened the Berlin Wall for an eight-day period to allow visitors from West Germany during the Easter holidays (March 29)

• North Vietnam launched the Nguyen Hue Offensive, with 30,000 troops and 200 armoured vehicles invading South Vietnam (March 30)