A snapshot of life in April 1994

End of an era as airfield closes

During the Second World War, Leavesden airfield was a hive of activity as mechanics, engineers and other workers feverishly built aeroplanes to help Britain’s collective war effort. Their unstinting efforts paid dividends as the Allies eventually triumphed, but yesterday the airfield finally closed, leaving behind only a wealth of memories for everyone connected with the site. Together with the recent closure of the British Aerospace plant at Hatfield, this means Hertfordshire’s highly successful association with the British aerospace engineering industry has effectively ended.

[April 1, 1994]

April Fool prison posters

A fake Home Office notice suggesting a prison was being built on the Leavesden Airport site was a sick idea of an April Fool’s joke, according to a local campaign group. Leavesden Village Action Group found copies of what appeared to be a planning notice from the Government department outside shops and post offices in Abbots Langley and north Watford last Friday. It said plans for a prison to be built on the site could be viewed at both Watford Borough Council and Three Rivers District Council offices. But a Home Office spokesman has confirmed it was a hoax. Mr Paul Gurney, health and environmental spokesman for Leavesden Village Action Group, said: “Many rumours have been spread about this whole site but this is the sickest yet.”

[April 8, 1994]

Easter evangelism

Worried about the traffic problems that could be generated by the estimated 12,000 people heading towards Watford to hear German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke preach, I parked my car about a mile from Vicarage Road stadium. The dribble of people walking towards west Watford convinced me that I had got the time or day wrong. Last week a national paper predicted up to 20,000 people would turn up for the service – but the crowd totalled no more than 1,300. Although a bitter wind, rain and the occasional flurry of snow must have deterred quite a number of would-be worshippers, everyone on stage and in the crowd prayed, danced and sang with as much enthusiasm as if there had been 20,000 there.

[April 8, 1994]

Author books in at new look library

Author and historian Lady Antonia Fraser officially opened the newly refurbished Watford Central Library on Tuesday. Town librarian Andrew Bignall said initial public reaction to the new look library had been very enthusiastic. “When it first opened in 1928 the library was a source of considerable civic pride in the town and I hope this refurbishment will restore that privilege.”

[April 15, 1994]

Football stand toilet plea

The importance of having enough toilets for supporters in the new all-seater grandstand at Watford Football Club has been highlighted by councillors. They gave permission for the south stand to be built on Tuesday but urged the club to spare a thought for those needing to make a call of nature. Conservative councillor Ian Brown “implored” whoever was responsible for toilet provision to tackle the problem. Labour councillor Rashid Choudhrey, who chairs the committee responsible for looking at plans, said it was part of a nationwide problem.

[April 22, 1994]

Fans flock to see fab five live

Screaming teenage girls packed Our Price record shop in the Harlequin Centre on Monday to see heart-throbs Worlds Apart. The fab five were in town to promote their new album Together, which was released on Monday, and performed their three singles Wonderful World, Could It Be I’m Falling in Love, and their new release Beggin’ to be Written. For an hour after the show, the boys signed records, posters and anything else thrust in front of them.

[April 22, 1994]

Town pub gets go-ahead

Drinkers in Watford will be over the moon now a new High Street pub has been given the go-ahead. The shop currently used by Next as a discount store can now be redeveloped and turned into one of the popular “Moon” pubs. J.D. Wetherspoon plc was given planning permission at last week’s development control committee meeting. Like all over freehouses run under the “Moon” slogan, the new High Street pub will be a music-free zone and the restaurant will serve food all day. Every councillor at the meeting gave the green light to the pub, saying they were pleased new life was being brought to the area of High Street between Market Street and Clarendon Road.

[April 22, 1994]

What was happening in the world in April 1994?

• Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana and Burundi President Cyprien Ntaryamira die when a missile shoots down their jet near Kigali, Rwanda (April 6)

• The Rwandan genocide begins in Kigali, Rwanda (April 7)

• Smoking is banned in the Pentagon and all US military bases (April 8)

• Voters in Finland decide to join the European Union in a referendum (April 16)

• Former US President Nixon suffers a stroke and dies four days later (April 18)

• Nelson Mandela wins South Africa’s first fully multiracial elections (April 27)