A snapshot of life in March 1987

Hat ban upsets nurses

A ban on the wearing of caps by some nurses at Watford General Hospital has caused anger among the staff. The order banning caps – until now a traditional feature of a nurse’s uniform – came into force on Monday. And the nurses affected said they would have been prepared to buy their own hats rather than lose them altogether. Paper caps replaced the old triangles which nurses used to wear to cover their hair and getting rid of them will save the hospital £5,000 a year, Mary Evans, district nursing officer, said this week. But a nurse who contacted the Watford Observer said the decision was reached without discussion or consultation with them. Staff were afraid to protest about this kind of situation in case they were labelled as trouble makers, she added.

[March 6, 1987]

£5m plan for new hospital

A £5million plan for the redevelopment of the Peace Memorial Hospital is soon to be unveiled by the South West Hertfordshire Health Authority – but the future of the old frontage facing Rickmansworth Road is still in the balance. A report in the authority’s staff newspaper says the scheme will involve building a completely new health care complex for elderly and mentally ill people. “The authority has still to decide on whether to retain the grand old frontage of the former hospital,” the report states. Peter Thompson, district general manager, says during the 18 months since the Peace was closed and services were moved to Watford General Hospital the authority has been drawing up plans for this much-loved hospital which guarantees that it has a future as an integral part of the healthcare picture in South West Hertfordshire.

[March 6, 1987]

Petition backs fight to save Scammell

Plans to launch a community-wide campaign to save Scammell Motors from closure by June 1988 moved into top gear this week with union chiefs, shop floor workers, councillors and local residents pledging their support. The four unions represented inside Scammells have formed themselves into a joint trade union committee to spearhead the campaign to save the 650 jobs which will be lost if the 64-year-old truck-building factory is shut down. A petition calling on the Commons to ensure the survival of the Scammell plant has been circulated in the town centre and was distributed in Vicarage Road before Watford FC’s match with Everton on Sunday afternoon. The committee has also set up a special campaigning fund called the Save Scammell Motors Fund and are hoping for donations from the general public and fellow trade unionists.

[March 13, 1987]

Angry parents defend grammar schools

Claims made last week by county councillors that the Watford Grammar Schools were elitist and out of touch with modern needs have prompted a storm of protest from parents and school heads. The accusations, voiced at a meeting of the County Education Sub-Committee, centred on the lack of craft, design and technology facilities at the two schools which councillors branded as backward-looking and guilty of reinforcing sex stereotypes. But parents have reacted angrily to the remarks and accuse them of wanting to bring all schools down to the same lowest common denominator. In Letters to the Editor of the Watford Observer this week, readers have said that parents should have the right to choose the best education for their children.

[March 20, 1987]

Tennis club’s champagne farewell

The nets came down for the last time at the Sun Sports Tennis Club on Sunday. Forty years of club history have come to an end as the club makes way for a new indoor bowling rink, and on Sunday about 30 members marked the closure with a special tournament. Although the closure has been impending since autumn, club members have had to move out at three weeks’ notice. Club president Mrs Sue Peacock said: “It was a sad day but we were determined not to make it too sad – we had champagne as prizes!”

[March 20, 1987]

Parents fight for tighter control on ear piercings

A parent is calling for tighter legislation to prevent jewellers in Watford piercing children’s ears without parents’ permission. Any child of 10 or over can walk into a jewellers or hairdressers in the borough and have their ears pierced for just a few pounds – whether or not their parents agree. Now one furious mother is pressing for tougher local legislation after her 12-year-old son recently had his ears pierced without her consent. Mrs Marilyn O’Brien, from Bedmond, has written to her MP, Mr Richard Page. Together with Watford MP Mr Tristan Garel-Jones, Mr Page has taken up the issue with the council. The MPs say they will speak to Government ministers if nothing is done to change regulations.

[March 20, 1987]

Elton’s party bash

Elton John set the sky alight in Moor Park this week with his 40th birthday celebrations – although people living in the area were unhappy about the noise. A fantastic firework display at midnight on Wednesday helped the Watford chairman’s birthday bash go with a bang that no one could ignore. At its climax Happy Birthday Elton was emblazoned across the sky in massive letters. Weary-eyed neighbours for miles around were seeing stars as the flashes and booms kept them awake until the early hours. The party was at Lockwood House, Moor Park, the million pound home of Elton’s manager, John Reid.

[March 27, 1987]

What was happening in the world in March 1987?

• 193 people die when the cross-channel ferry MS Herald of Free Enterprise capsizes off Zeebrugge harbour in Belgium (March 6)

• The FBI apprehends murderer Claude Dallas in California after he escaped from prison a year earlier (March 8)

• U2’s album The Joshua Tree is released (March 9)

• The Vatican formally opposes test tube fertilisation and embryo transfer (March 10)

• AZT, the first treatment for HIV, is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (March 20)

• Michael Eisner, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, and French Prime Minister (and future President of France) Jacques Chirac sign the agreement to construct the Euro Disney Resort (now called Disneyland Paris) (March 24)

• An audience of 93,173 watches Hulk Hogan beat Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania III (March 29)

• Platoon wins Best Picture at the 59th Academy Awards (March 30)

• Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher conducts a 45-minute interview on Soviet television (March 31)