A snapshot of life in July 1973

Contraception on NHS

South West Herts MP Sir Gilbert Longden, who is in favour of free contraception, refused to support the Government on Monday when they rejected the Lords’ second attempt to amend the National Health Bill to allow free contraceptives for all. Sir Gilbert told his Whips he could not vote. He has long advocated free contraceptives from population, economic and social aspects. In a press statement this week, Sir Gilbert said: “Three million pounds seems to be to be little enough if there is any prospect that, by spending it, we shall reduce the colossal abortion rate and, more important still, the number of unwanted children. I do not believe the prevailing permissive promiscuity makes for happiness or contentment, but the moral aspects of this question are for our parents, teachers and our leaders in church and state. Parliament cannot make people behave morally by statute.”

[July 6, 1973]

No sackings at Sun

There is no question of any redundancies at Watford’s Sun Printers – despite the fact that the printing giants have lost part of their contract to print Vogue magazine. From the beginning of 1976 the magazine’s colour pages will be printed by another company within the British Printing Corporation, which owns Sun. “It will not make a great deal of difference at the Sun,” said a BPC spokesman. “There is certainly no question of any redundancies.” Exactly how much work the Sun will lose is difficult to say, he said, adding: “But obviously there is a fair amount of colour printing in Vogue.” Last March the Sun revealed that they had lost a £1,900,000 contract to print TV Times magazine. The publishers decided not to renew the contract when it ends in September next year.

[July 13, 1973]

The diminishing choice

The possibility of the Empire Cinema giving way to a pub and discotheque is sad news for Watford cinemagoers, who would then be left with only two cinemas, both owned by Rank Leisure Services theatre division. Watford, of course, is not alone in this, and the owners can hardly be blamed. Changing habits brought about by many factors – television and car ownership among them – have outdated the generous sprinkling of palatial picture houses built between the wars. The fact remains, however, that there is still a considerable number of cinemagoers who are going to feel deprived and aggrieved by the diminishing choice confronting them. The answer here seems to lie in the sort of three-in-one complex which has already been introduced in some places, St Albans and Luton among them.

[July 13, 1973]

A new kind of store

A new sort of store opens in Watford tomorrow, which makes window shopping the in thing. You actually choose the goods before you leave home! Over the next month every home in Watford should get a new Argos catalogue pushed through the door. The idea is that people then sit down, put their feet up, peruse the brochure at leisure, choose anything they want to buy, come down to King Street, and complete purchase within three minutes. The Argos store will be at 5 King Street, and 16 other Argos stores are opening on the same day. The stores will stock all kinds of things from dishwashers to diamonds and cookers to candlesticks.

[July 20, 1973]

Trams in Watford?

Consideration will be given to introducing a shoppers’ tram, which would travel slowly up and down the centre of High Street, Councillor Frederick Hodgson assured Watford Borough Council on Monday. This is the latest response to the mounting pressure for a better deal for pedestrians and shoppers – particularly the elderly – who find the walk from the present bus stops to the shops tiring, difficult and discouraging. Cllr Hodgson pointed out that with transport of this kind, there would be no need for bus access “all over the place”.

[July 27, 1973]

Fate of allotments

Poor allotmenteers! Whether the council is seeking land for housing, access roads or what have you, it is a fair bet that some eyes will gravitate to allotments. No wonder, then, that there was reluctance on the part of members of Watford Borough Council’s sub-committee to accept the chairman’s invitation to consider putting a play area on uncultivated land at Farm Terrace. Before the members can be persuaded they will need more evidence that there really is no demand for the plots, and with good reason. After all, it was only two months ago that there was a waiting list of 30 for allotments – something that has not happened for a very long time. The allotments sub-committee will be wise to tread with caution.

[July 27, 1973]

What was happening in the world in July 1973?

• The British Library is established (July 1)

• David Bowie retires his Ziggy Stardust stage persona in front of a shocked audience at the Hammersmith Odeon (July 3)

• The first James Bond film to star Roger Moore, Live and Let Die, is released in cinemas (July 6)

• John Paul Getty III, grandson of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, is kidnapped in Rome by Italian gangsters wanting a ransom (July 10)

• Queen release their debut studio album (July 13)

• American actor Bruce Lee dies in Hong Kong (July 20)

• US President Richard Nixon refuses to release Watergate tapes of conversations in the White House relevant to the Watergate investigation (July 23)

• Formula One racing driver Roger Williamson dies in an accident, witnessed live on television, during the 1973 Dutch Grand Prix (July 29)

• £20million compensation is paid to victims of Thalidomide following an 11-year court case (July 30)