A snapshot of life in August 1978

Farewell to conductors

Keith Birkhead, and 29 others like him, are the last in Hertfordshire of a vanishing breed. On Tuesday one-man buses were brought in on the 347 Hemel Hempstead-Uxbridge route – the last in the county to be plied by the old two-man Routemaster vehicles – effectively ending the days of bus conductors in Hertfordshire. And so now Keith and his 29 fellow conductors at the Garston and Hemel Hempstead garages, face retraining as drivers, being found engineering jobs or being made voluntarily redundant. Despite the initial cost of the new buses, London Country expect to save £80,000 a year on the routes in wages and general overheads. One of the new innovations on the Atlantean is a bell-push that extends the length of the bus – so no more frantic stretching when the bus threatens to overshoot your request stop!

[August 4, 1978]

Housewife is first curator

A 31-year-old housewife has been given the task of setting up Watford’s first local history museum. Appointed to the newly created borough post of curator is Mrs Helen Poole who, for the past eight years, has been curator of the local authority museum at Hitchin. Within hours of taking up her local position Mrs Poole had visited the Lower High Street Benskin site building in which it is proposed to open the town’s first museum. Why did she apply for the Watford post? – “The opportunity of setting up a local authority museum from scratch appealed to me,” she confessed. It is not expected that the Watford museum will open until some time next year. In the meantime Mrs Poole will be fully occupied with preparatory work.

[August 11, 1978]

Championing the cyclist

Over the past few years these columns have called frequently for local authorities to consider the needs of cyclists when planning new roads. Now the South West Herts Labour Party’s annual conference calling upon the next Labour Government to introduce legislation “for dramatically improving bicycling facilities within our towns and cities”. The strange thing is that despite what appear to be self-evident advantages to be gained from making provision for cyclists, they continue to be ignored by most local authorities in designing their road systems. In the main, these systems, as at Watford, are directed at getting through traffic out of the town as quickly as possible. That is a worthy enough aim, but it has some unfortunate side effects. Many of potential cyclists have been driven off the roads, and in the case of too many younger ones it has been onto the footpaths. All power, then, to the South West Herts Labour Party in their attempt to champion the cycling habit.

[August 11, 1978]

Another pub bites the dust

The Three Tuns in Watford’s Lower High Street, the only public house on that side of the road for seven miles to Kings Langley, will close at the end of this month and be demolished towards the end of the year to make way for the completion of the Watford Ring Road. It follows into the dust a large number of other popular Watford taverns – The Arches, King Billy, Anchor, Leathersellers, Cricketers, Fox, Red Lion, Essex Arms and The Dog. The pub is only one of the buildings from 183 to 205 which will vanish in the next few months, so erasing yet another well-known part of old Watford from the local landscape.

[August 18, 1978]

We’re going goal-happy!

It’s all happening at Vicarage Road. Watford Football Club have hit 16 goals in their first four matches of the season to send alarm bells ringing round Division 3 and take them to a plum home League Cup-tie with Newcastle United on Tuesday night. And their feats have also attracted the media. BBC Grandstand cameras were at Vicarage Road and at the club’s training headquarters at Dickinson’s Shendish yesterday.

[August 25, 1978]

It’s fiesta time

Fiesta time in Watford, with its High Street and shopping precinct bedecked in the black and gold of its newly promoted third division soccer side, and serving as the setting for a week of events, competitions and fun! Yes, that’s the scene which awaits the town’s stay-at-home holiday-makers on Tuesday, when the curtain goes up on Watford’s first-ever five-day show week. Last year, it was a one-day event, before that there were the annual show weekends in Cassiobury Park. But this year’s show is something quite new in concept – a show with a lot more sparkle about it and brimming over with so much life and fun that it will take five days to enjoy! And with its venue slap-bang in the heart of town, where it will fill the modern shopping precinct and High Street with a lively festive air.

[August 25, 1978]

What was happening in the world in August 1978?

• The funeral of Pope Paul VI is held in the Vatican (August 11)

• The Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and the People’s Republic of China is concluded (August 12)

• Double Eagle II becomes the first balloon to successfully cross the Atlantic Ocean (August 17)

• A staff bus of El Al airlines in London is attacked by Palestinian terrorists. A flight attendant is killed and nine people are wounded (August 20)

• US Army Sergeant Walter Robinson ‘walks’ across the English Channel in 11 hours 30 minutes, using homemade water shoes (August 25)

• Cardinal Albino Luciani becomes Pope John Paul I (August 26)