A snapshot of life in September 1981

Fun in the air

The wheel of fun whisked Bank Holiday revellers above the crowds who crammed into the King George V recreation ground for Bushey Show, and the wheel of fortune turned in favour of Bushey Horticultural Society, whose members organise this popular annual event. With an attendance of well over 9,000 the 1981 Bushey Show could well prove a financial record-breaker. It will certainly provide the society with its best August show income for several years. In Rickmansworth 8,000 gathered at the Aquadrome for the Round Table’s spectacular Aquashow with its water buggy and dinghy racing, windsurfing, water skiing and aerobatic display. At the Bury Grounds nearby, the St John Ambulance fete and dog show drew record crowds.

[September 4, 1981]

Five-pub swap

Five pubs owned by Watford’s Benskin Brewery are to be transferred to the Truman Brewery in exchange for the ownership of five Truman pubs. The swap is in line with an agreement between breweries and the Monopolies Commission to stop an area being dominated by one brewery and to give customers a wider choice. The Truman Brewery will take over the Wellington in Watford, the Artichoke in Croxley Green, the King’s Arms and the Rose and Crown at Chesham, and the Mayflower in Hemel Hempstead. In return, five Truman pubs in Norfolk will go to Ind Coope East Anglia, part of the Allied Breweries group, to which Benskin also belongs.

[September 4, 1981]

Star Wendy for Palace reopening

The new-look Watford Palace Theatre is due to reopen in November with Dame Wendy Hiller playing Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde’s most famous comedy, The Importance of Being Earnest. Artistic director Michael Attenborough has chosen the play partly because it is set in 1908, the year the theatre first opened. The Palace has been closed since April for essential repairs and redecoration to restore the building to its former Edwardian splendour. There is good financial news for the theatre this week. The appeal, started a year ago to raise a substantial part of the money needed for the work, is within £15,000 of its £200,000 target.

[September 11, 1981]

Jobs crisis at Odhams

The future of Odhams, the Watford print giant, is in the balance. A £5million loss is being predicted by next March and 370 redundancies have to be made. A spokesman said the reasons are high manning level costs, low productivity and fewer pages in publications produced because of the economic lull. The redundancies will have to be made by next April and there will have to be a substantial increase in productivity, he said. “Without that, and unless agreement can be reached on these lines by December, the outlook for Odhams is bleak. In fact, there is no future,” he said.

[September 18, 1981]

Sign here, Mr Hope

Hoping for a great weekend of golf, Bob Hope takes time off from his sporting duties at Moor Park to sign his autograph for a lady fan. The 79-year-old comedian will be at Moor Park Golf Club until Sunday to supervise the running of his British Golf Classic, a star-spangled extravaganza which he hopes will raise £100,000 for charity. Sports and showbusiness stars are pitting their golf skills before thousands of fans – and ITV’s cameras – at the event which started under gloomy skies yesterday (Thursday). Among the stars on parade are Telly Savalas, Johnny Mathis, ex-US President Gerald Ford, Henry Cooper, Terry Wogan and Ronnie Corbett.

[September 25, 1981]

Palace Theatre’s policy pays off

The shift in policy prompted by the arrival of a new artistic director at the Watford Palace Theatre has paid dividends. The autumn season played to an average of more than 90 per cent capacity. The high box office income enabled the theatre to wipe out almost three-quarters of the £26,304 accumulated deficit. In the 1980-1 financial year the new artistic director, Michael Attenborough, set about revitalising the Palace, boosting audience figures and reducing the sizeable deficit. A great deal of time was spent on publicity, geared to establishing the image of the theatre as somewhere accessible, reasonably priced and performing to the highest possible professional standards. The result was the big boost in audience figures. The 28 shows resulted in a total attendance of 110,478 during the year.

[September 25, 1981]

What was happening in the world in September 1981?

• In Egypt, a nationwide arrest of 1,536 people, most of them Islamic activists, is carried out on orders of President Anwar Sadat (September 3)

• An explosion at a mine in Záluží, Czechoslovakia, kills 65 people (September 4)

• Louis Delamare, France’s ambassador to Lebanon, is assassinated in Beirut (September 4)

• Footballer John Barnes makes his professional debut at age 17, playing for the last 15 minutes of Watford FC’s game against Oldham Athletic (September 5)

• 154 inmates escape from a jail in Bydogoszcz, Poland (September 5)

• General Frederick J. Kroeson, commander of the US Army in Europe, is injured in an assassination attempt in West Germany (September 15)

• The Solidarity Day march takes place in Washington DC (September 19)

• Sandra Day O’Connor takes her seat as the first female justice of the US Supreme Court (September 25)