A snapshot of life in July 1974

Let’s have it back

Watford’s MP, Mr Raphael Tuck, and Liberal candidate Mr Anthony Jacobs seem to have got themselves into a minor squabble over the sale of the airport land at Leavesden. Mr Jacobs urges the Watford and Three Rivers Councils to get together with Rolls-Royce to discuss the matter and work out an agreed policy; Mr Tuck protests vigorously that he has been working on the airport project for well over six months. All we can say is that despite their differences, these two political rivals at least seem to be united in support of Watford’s claim to the land. After all, Watford is sorely pressed for housing land and here are 117 acres which were compulsorily taken away from the council in wartime. If that land is going, Watford must have prior claim to it.

[July 5, 1974]

Masonic move

The move of the Boys’ Royal Masonic School from its present site in Bushey is not likely to take place for a number of years. At the school speech day on Saturday the headmaster, Mr A.F. Vyvyan-Robinson, assured parents and guardians that there was little likelihood of the change occurring while the boys were at the school. As previously reported in the Watford Observer it has been agreed in principle that the boys’ school should transfer to the Girls’ Royal Masonic School in Rickmansworth and that the two should combine to form a new coeducational school.

[July 5, 1974]

Lighting up Leggatts

Despite the weather, a money-making summer fair helped raise about £850 to “Light Up Leggatts” on Saturday. The Parents’ Association at Leggatts School, North Watford, had arranged dozens of stalls to raise money to floodlight the games area. But the heavy rain at the end of last week forced them to move some sideshows indoors as a precaution. As it turned out, the sun shone on Saturday afternoon as crowds flocked to Leggatts Fair and helped beat the £700 target. Netball courts and football pitches will be lit up under the plan. Together with the joint-use swimming pool, they make up a mini-sports centre for the area.

[July 5, 1974]

Print crisis hits Watford

A crisis in the printing industry is a crisis for Watford. The one has been growing for a number of years; the other is about to dawn with the announcement of drastic cuts in jobs at both the town’s print giants, Odhams and Sun Printers. Odhams, who employ nearly 3,000 at their Watford Bypass factory, issued an ultimatum to the two unions in a demarcation row that unless a solution is found by next week the factory will close down. And at Sun it is said that they are losing some of their International Printing Corporation contracts. Gravure, which was pioneered in the town and has always been the leading process at both Sun and Odhams, is no longer profitable on the shorter-run periodicals. But the profitability of print has long been in question, although, sadly in the light of this week’s announcements, unions have been slow to heed the warnings.

[July 12, 1974]

No to coat of arms

Three Rivers Council are not to have a coat of arms, the members decided at their meeting on Tuesday after a long and heated debate. Councillor Mrs Eryl McNally said at the meeting that it was a complete waste of money, and that coats of arms were something soldiers used to have so they could be recognised in battle. Cllr Mrs Joyce Woolner went a bit further. She felt that as the council was Three Rivers and that the Chairman’s name was Crockett, the council should give him a headdress and a tomahawk for his wife to carry. The council decided not to proceed with a coat of arms after a vote was taken. But they are to investigate the feasibility of having a symbol to be painted on the side of their vehicles. Students from the printing and design section of the Watford College of Technology were invited to submit designs for a symbol, the winner receiving a prize of £20.

[July 19, 1974]

Golden days of print

Printing has been good for Watford – bringing prosperity and worldwide attention to what would otherwise be just another dormitory town. Today, one-tenth of the town’s 76,000 residents find work in the 20 print houses in Watford – dominated, of course, by Sun and Odhams. Each year around 15 per cent of the town’s school leavers are absorbed into work connected with print. And there is a huge printing department at the College of Technology. The majority of magazines on display at bookstalls each week originate from Watford – particularly the specialist women’s and hobby publications. The town’s first printing connections came in the 1820s with a handful of adventurous pioneers setting up hand-press print houses in the town. Their skills grew, and were passed on, and it was this availability of proficient labour that was later to draw some of the most progressive print firms into the town.

[July 19, 1974]

What was happening in the world in July 1974?

• Isabel Peron succeeds her husband Juan as President of Argentina (July 1)

• Soyuz 14, a manned space mission, is successfully launched by the Soviet Union (July 3)

• West Germany defeat the Netherlands 2-1 to win the FIFA World Cup (July 7)

• Following the Watergate scandal, a US Judiciary Committee releases an enhanced version of eight of the White House tapes previously transcribed by Nixon's team. These include potentially damaging statements suppressed in Nixon's version (July 9)

• The IRA detonates a bomb at the Tower of London, killing one person and injuring another 41 (July 17)

• Turkey invades Cyprus (July 20)

• The Greek military dictatorship collapses (July 23)

• A teenager discovers the body of an unidentified woman at Race Point Dunes in Massachusetts. It remains one of the best-known unsolved crimes of all time (July 26)