Despair of young jobless

Young unemployed people in Watford are being driven to despair, claims the leading telephone help organisation the Samaritans. The Samaritans say that more and more young people are contacting them about the worries of unemployment. The organisation is visiting 5th and 6th forms at school pointing out the work of the befriending service. They have also enlisted the help of youth training officers in order to provide satisfactory advice.

[May 6, 1983]

Battle to the finish

The agony and the ecstasy of victory united the winner and runner-up in this year’s Watford MaraFun as they crossed the finishing line. After a 10-mile running battle through the streets of Watford, court clerk Kevin McDonald snatched victory from second-placed Adrian Stewart by just two seconds. The two ran neck and neck for much of the Bank Holiday Monday race, and Kevin overtook Adrian for the last time in the final few yards.

[May 6, 1983]

Odhams closure a step nearer

Huge job losses seemed inevitable this week at the Odhams and Sun plants in Watford, following print tycoon Mr Robert Maxwell’s merger proposals. More than 1,000 workers face the sack in the next few weeks as Mr Maxwell hurries to push through his proposal to close the major Odhams plant in North Watford and combine the operation on the Sun site in Whippendell Road. But an announcement by Mr Maxwell that the Sun printing plant has heavy financial losses has brought fresh fears to the workforce at the second plant.

[May 13, 1983]

Double delight

The new Mayoress of Watford will be in two places at once – or so it may seem to members of the public. For Mrs Jill Greenstreet is an identical twin and she and her sister Pat are often mistaken for one another. What is all the more remarkable is that the new mayor – Jill’s husband Councillor Geoff Greenstreet – is also a twin.

[May 13, 1983]

Brave granny scares gunman

A brave grandmother foiled a masked gunman who demanded money from the till of a newsagent’s shop on Tuesday. Shop assistant Mrs Margaret Markey sent the six-foot gunman packing after she shouted “You’ve got to be stupid”. She then chased the raider from the Sherwood House newsagents shop in Abbots Langley, but he escaped empty-handed.

[May 13, 1983]

Mob go on rampage

Two policemen were beaten and hundreds of pounds worth of damage caused when a group of almost 100 youths went on the rampage in Watford’s town centre on Friday night. Trouble flared when crowds of youngsters were leaving a disco at the YMCA in Charter Place, just after midnight. High spirits after an otherwise quiet evening led to a mini-riot with youngsters smashing windows and causing damage throughout the shopping complex.

[May 13, 1983]

Giant store could bring 1,000 jobs

A giant superstore and industrial units are likely to take the place of the Odhams printing works in North Watford. Print boss Mr Robert Maxwell has to sell the Odhams site as quickly as possible so he can foot the bill for the substantial number of voluntary redundancy payments for workers. This week, as fears were growing that the number of redundancies from the Odhams and Sun merger could be as high as 1,800, Mr Mawell predicted that 1,000 new jobs could come from the redevelopment.

[May 20, 1983]

Campaign to cut parking charges

Traders have launched an all-out campaign to end the controversial system of car parking in Watford town centre which, they claim, is driving away shoppers. The 50p flat rate charage for car parking has been the subject of a continuing battle between traders and the local authority. But traders have failed, so far, to get the council to introduce flexible charging so that short-stay parking is encouraged in the major car parks.

[May 27, 1983]

What was happening in the world in May 1983?

• Stern magazine publishes the ‘Hitler Diaries’ (which are later found to be forgeries) (May 6)

• Lebanon, Israel and the US sign an agreement on Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon (May 17)

• A car bomb planted by a military wing of the African National Congress in Pretoria, South Africa, kills 19 (May 20)

• David Bowie’s Let’s Dance single goes to number one (May 21)

• Return of the Jedi opens in theatres (May 25)

• The 7.8 Mw Sea of Japan earthquake generates a tsunami that leaves 100 people dead (May 26)

• An explosion at an unlicensed fireworks operation near Benton, Tennessee kills 11 (May 27)