Market stallholders up in arms

Angry words are being used by Watford Market traders, incensed by the latest rise in stall rents. They describe the rent-rise as “a swindle” and warn that it will “kill the goose which laid the golden egg”. Though Watford Town Council agreed on Monday to reduce rent increases so that the increased annual rent will amount to £3,880 instead of the £7,400 increase agreed by the council in August, the traders still claim that they have a strong case for no rent rise at all.

[October 6, 1967]

Free taxi service

A Rickmansworth pub is to introduce a free taxi service in an attempt to cope with the new drive and drink laws which came into effect on Monday. And Benskin’s are to urge their landlords to serve coffee up to closing time and warn drivers whom they think may have had too much. But licensee of the Batchworth Arms, Church Street, Rickmansworth, Mr F.W. Biswell, thinks the heavy penalties are going to hit the country pub trade. “No driver in his right mind is going to chance losing his licence for a year and face a jail sentence just to risk a couple of drinks,” he says. So he is planning a free door-to-door taxi service to and from his pub for customers who wine and dine.

[October 6, 1967]

Sex education for junior

Family planning will be taught to secondary school children in Watford and South West Hertfordshire if wide-ranging recommendations on sex education contained in a new report on school health are adopted by school teachers. The main part of the report deals with bodily health in schools, but there is a section on “sex education”. “The aim should be to include this subject as naturally and as objectively as any other topic, bearing in mind that it is highly desirable that parents should be kept informed of the school practice in this respect,” says the report. The report recommends that “in junior schools the biological aspects of reproduction should come with the study of the human being as a zoological animal. Girls should know about menstruation before leaving junior school – and this would be a good opportunity for boys to know something of this matter too.”

[October 13, 1967]

If you want a nice school – move!

Last week’s 5,000 illustrated leaflets likening central Watford’s primary school buildings to prisons and workhouse produced a relatively small but very determined parents’ protest meeting at Christ Church Hall, Watford, on Friday. Mr I. Ridger, senior assistant for primary schools, said: “So far as the primary schools are concerned, the money that has been made available for building these schools since the war has been devoted almost entirely with keeping pace with the rising child population. If you want to be quite certain that your children go to a nice new school the only sensible thing to do really is to go and live in a new town like Stevenage.”

[October 13, 1967]

Do schools qualify for action?

Are Watford primary schools bad enough to be recommended to the Department of Education and Science for rebuilding? This was the problem that faced Herts Education Committee on Monday when they discussed a circular from the Department on Primary and Secondary Rebuilding Projects. The Secretary of State for Education and Science said that proposals for rebuilding would be considered if there were evidence that children in a district were suffering from “multiple deprivation and, secondly, if the school was among a concentration of crowded, old, sub-standard and badly maintained houses”. County Councillor Mrs C.M. Midgley said that Watford should be looked into as an education priority area. “There is a growing concern among parents about our 19th century schools,” she said. “I do not remember any replacement projects for Watford schools. Now we have a Government that is interested in primary schools we should try and get them replaced.”

[October 20, 1967]

New press is widest in Europe

Another chapter in the history of Watford as one of the world’s leading printing centres was opened on Thursday, when the British Printing Corporation “rolled back the curtains” at Sun Printers for trade and local press men to view their new £1million Goss gravure press built for the production of the Sunday Times magazine. The new machine is the most modern and widest in Europe. Managing director of Sun Printers, Mr Raymond Walker, said: “Our successes here are proof, I think, that as far as quality is concerned we can match the best that our continental friends can produce.”

[October 20, 1967]

How short should miniskirts be?

To what length (or lack of it) are local schools prepared to let miniskirts go? That was the question which intrigued the Observer office after hearing a dark rumour about one school which added an extra feature to morning assembly – measuring the floor-to-hemline gap while the girls were on their knees! Is it a case of “the thigh’s the limit”?

[October 27, 1967]

What was happening in the world in October 1967?

• Thurgood Marshall is sworn in to office as the first African-American justice of the United States Supreme Court (October 2)

• US Air Force Major William ‘Pete’ Knight makes the fastest flight of a powered aircraft at a speed of 4,520 mph. The mark remains unsurpassed (October 3)

• The Shag Harbour UFO incident occurs in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia as an ‘illuminated object, 60 feet in diameter, descended from the sky and disappeared beneath the waves’ in front of numerous witnesses (October 4)

• Che Guevara is executed, shot nine times with a semiautomatic rifle in order to support news that he had been killed in battle (October 9)

• The Outer Space Treaty between the US, the Soviet Union and 10 other nations takes effect, with the parties agreeing that they will not place nuclear weapons in space and will not establish military bases nor make territorial claims on the Moon or any other celestial bodies (October 10)

• The first ‘rock musical’, Hair, premieres in New York (October 17)

• The Soviet Union’s Venera 4 probe becomes the first craft from Earth to land on Venus (October 18)

• The last animated film personally supervised by Walt Disney, The Jungle Book, is released (October 18)

• Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin film an unidentified animal near Bluff Creak, California, which has been claimed to be Bigfoot or Sasquatch (October 20)

• 30,000 people protest the Vietnam War outside the Pentagon (October 21)

• The Abortion Act 1967 is approved in British Parliament, replacing the 1801 act and meaning abortions would be available without cost under the national health care system (October 25)

• US Navy pilot John McCain III is shot down over North Vietnam and kept prisoner for more than five years. He would later be the Republican candidate for President in 2008 (October 26)

• Queen Elizabeth II conducts the State Opening of Parliament and informs the House of Lords that their hereditary succession and many of their government powers will be eliminated (October 31)