Near miss jumbo jet drama

Air traffic controllers averted an air disaster when two jets, carrying 150 passengers, passed within 12,000 feet of each other over Bovingdon on Sunday in the second near miss in the area in two months. Passengers aboard the Aer Lingus 737 and a Quantas Jumbo Jet were getting ready to land at Heathrow when radar operators at London Airport spotted that the planes were too close for comfort. “At their closest point the aircraft were separated by about two nautical miles laterally. The standard radar separation is three nautical miles,” said a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority. The near miss will now be probed by a special team of CAA investigators to determine if lives were put at risk. Passengers on both flights were not told of the incident.

[June 3, 1988]

Best for years

Carnival capers went ahead as planned despite sporadic downpours of rain during the procession on Bank Holiday Monday. The rain proved an unwelcome complication to the day’s events but carnival revellers did not let it impede their fun. Cheering spectators lined every inch of the carnival route from the Greycaines Estate in North Watford to Cassiobury Park.

[June 3, 1988]

Crowds flock to animal extravaganza

A weather-beating, record-breaking Herts Show became a three-day extravaganza for the first time in its 187 year history at the weekend – and managed to avoid traditional wet and windy weather to pull in flocks of bank holiday crowds. The organisers promised something for everyone and delivered the goods in style, boasting entertainment to suit the green welly brigade and the city slickers alike.

[June 3, 1988]

Exam shambles

90 pupils at Watford Boys’ Grammar School sat down to a compulsory question in their GCSE Geography examination on Monday to learn they had been sent the wrong map. Officials of the Oxford and Cambridge Schools Examination Board sent a map of Coventry not Scarborough in the exam papers package sealed until the test. The incident followed another at the school when candidates in the French exam were played a muffled tape of a station announcer speaking in a native dialect.

[June 10, 1988]

Watford MP is against hanging

Only one of the three local MPs voted against the bill to restore capital punishment in the House of Commons on Tuesday. He was Watford’s Tristan Garel-Jones. Mr Gareth-Jones said: “I rejected the idea on moral as well as rational and practical grounds. It sounded impossible to defend and even its advocates admitted it would not work. It is looking less likely that capital punishment will ever be brought back in this country.”

[June 10, 1988]

End of an era

A printing firm founded in Watford in the 1920s is moving to Sussex along with its 250 jobs, it has been confirmed. Hopes that Fishburn Printing Inks would stay in the town despite the imminent expiry of the lease on its St Albans Road site have been dashed. Bosses in Germany have now announced that Slinfold, near Horsham, Sussex, is to be the historic firm’s new address.

[June 10, 1988]

Plans attacked again

Plans to elevate part of the A41 on stilts in a “spaghetti junction” style development and build a helicopter landing pad at Odhams have been lashed by Watford councillors. The plans are among a batch of proposals lodged with the council by print tycoon Robert Maxwell for the headquarters of his printing and communications empire. Councillor Keith Ashby predicted that even if the committee refused permission for the scheme, Mr Maxwell would get it from the county council or the Department of the Environment. “How do we as local councillors ever win anything of this magnitude?” he asked.

[June 17, 1988]

Education shake-up

A major shake-up of further education in South West Herts could be on the cards, a letter leaked to the Watford Observer revealed this week. In a letter to Hertfordshire’s further education review panel earlier this month, Watford College principal Dr Terry Howard proposes a merger of Watford and Cassio Colleges, possibly including Dacorum College as well, to create a leading institution for the 1990s and a powerful competitor to colleges in Harrow and Amersham. The Government’s education reform bill is expected to have a major impact on the management and finance of further education, he said. The service has to face the drop in numbers which has already closed down schools and the escalating costs of new technology.

[June 24, 1988]

What was happening in the world in June 1988?

• The film Big, starring Tom Hanks, premieres in the US (June 3)

• Kay Cottee sails into Sydney as the first woman to circle the globe alone (June 5)

• Queen Elizabeth II strips jockey Lester Piggott of his OBE following his jailing for tax irregularities (June 6)

• Spontaneous 100,000 strong mass night-singing demonstrations in Estonian SSR eventually give name to the Singing Revolution (June 10-14)

• A small wildfire starts in Montana on the boundary of Yellowstone National Park. Eventually over 750,000 acres – 36% of the park’s area – burns before firefighters gain control in late September (June 14)

• NASA scientist James Hansen testifies to the Senate that man-made global warming has begun (June 23)

• Roger Rabbit cartoon character debuts in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (June 25)

• The Gare de Lyon rail accident occurs in Paris, France, as an inbound train crashes into a stationary outbound train, killing 56 (June 27)

• Four workers are exposed to poisonous gas at a metal-plating plant in Auburn, Indiana, in the worst confined-space industrial accident in US history (June 28)