A snapshot of life in November 1991

World Cup fever sets tills ringing

Everything is turning out rosy for England rugby fans and Watford tradesmen on the eve of the World Cup Final. As Will Carling’s team prepares for the most important England rugby match ever, pubs, clubs, bookmakers and sports shops are getting ready for business. As England’s sweet chariot of success rolls on to Twickenham, Peter Spivey’s sports shop in The Parade, Watford, has reported a huge rush on the distinctive white rugby shirts. Shop assistant Andy Woodward said about 100 had been swept up by enthusiastic fans during the last couple of weeks. But there was sad news for supporters from north of the border, who lost out to England 6-9 at the weekend. “The Scottish shirts are in the sale now – along with the Welsh ones,” said Andy.

[November 1, 1991]

Fire wreaks havoc at Wham! star’s bar

Fire swept through 92s bar and brasserie in Rickmansworth on Sunday morning, causing more than £100,000 worth of damage. The blaze began in a storeroom on the first floor of the High Street restaurant, co-owned by former Wham! star Andrew Ridgley. Fire engines from Watford and Rickmansworth attended the scene, but 20 per cent of the first floor and the roof were badly burnt. Trendy 92s is now expected to be closed for at least six weeks for repairs.

[November 1, 1991]

Plan showdown

Residents opposed to plans for a huge leisure complex at Woodside, North Watford, say next week’s public inquiry will be a “David and Goliath fight”. Mr Gordon Stuart, resident of the borough for 60 years and with no formal legal training, will put the case for protesters. The inquiry will mark the culmination of a four-year campaign by people living near the proposed site, on the junction of Sheepcot Lane and North Orbital Road. They claim the complex, to include a multi-cinema and bowling alleys, would take away their open space and would be unsuitable in a residential area.

[November 8, 1991]

Old scores forgotten at print HQ

News of Robert Maxwell’s death on Tuesday sent shockwaves through the workforce at Watford-based Mirror Colour Publishing, part of the media mogul’s massive empire. MCP Managing Director Mr Ian McDonald said: “I think I can speak for everyone here when I say we are shocked. Though he was a hard taskmaster, the respect for the man was immense.” Robert Maxwell was not always a popular man in Watford where his moves to rationalise printing led to wide-reaching changes in the town’s traditional history. Speaking of the working night when Mr Maxwell’s death was confirmed, Mr McDonald said: “He would have been very proud of the way we all got stuck in. It was a time when old scores were forgotten.”

[November 8, 1991]

Battle hots up to save pub garden

Member of Parliament Mr Cecil Parkinson and Hertsmere councillors Mrs Brenda Batten and Peter Riches have met with residents trying to save a Bushey beer garden from developers. Publican Mr Michael Pratt wants to build three terrace houses and garages on land that at the moment is the beer garden at The Stag public house in Merry Hill Road, Bushey. Residents say, however, that the development will destroy the unique community within a community that exists in the area around the pub.

[November 22, 1991]

Go-ahead for school move

A decade-long campaign by parents and teachers at Hangers Wood School for physically handicapped children, in South Oxhey, bore fruit on Tuesday when county councillors agreed that the school should move to an entirely new site. The decision means the school in Gosforth Lane moving to new purpose-built accommodation at Bushey Meads School, allowing handicapped children to gain secondary education within the secondary school, while retaining the back-up of the special services provided by Hangers Wood. Agreement, however, put the £2million project only past the first hurdle. It now has to gain financial approval.

[November 22, 1991]

Inquiry ends in tears

Emotions ran high at the close of the public inquiry into proposals to build a multi-leisure complex at Woodside, North Watford. Representatives of the four main parties involved – Watford Borough Council, Citygrove Leisure Limited, Ladbroke Group Properties Limited and the North Orbital Residents Action Group (NORAG) – stood to make their final speeches on Friday and caused the tears to flow and fur to fly. In a rousing speech, anchored on the idea of community spirit, Mr Gordon Stewart, of NORAG, spoke about the impact the 50-foot-tall building would have on the quiet area of Woodside playing fields. While Mr David Lamming, representing developers Citygrove Leisure PLC, detailed the vast benefits that would come from the complex and asked for the inspector to recommend that planning permission be granted for the application.

[November 29, 1991]

Petition hopes to save hospital

The people of Watford are to be given the opportunity to try to save the disused and decaying Peace Memorial Hospital. Watford Borough Council decided this week to initiate a petition to send to South West Herts Health Authority, which is responsible for the building. The council hopes to collect thousands of signatures to show the strength of feeling local people have about the hospital. The Peace Memorial was built in the 1920s, and it has been empty since 1985. In 1989 Watford councillors thought a community care centre would open there, and this year there were hopes that a hospice would be built on the site – but the health authority has fallen silent on the plan. But councillors are still adamant that the hospital should be used for health purposes.

[November 29, 1991]

What was happening in the world in November 1991?

• The body of publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell is found floating in the Atlantic Ocean near the Canary Islands (November 5)

• China and Vietnam restore diplomatic relations after a 13-year rift (November 5)

• The KGB officially stops operations (November 6)

• Magic Johnson announces he is HIV positive and retires from the LA Lakers (November 7)

• June Rowlands is elected the first female Mayor of Toronto, Canada (November 12)

• Cambodian prince Norodom Sihanouk returns to Phnom Penh after 13 years of exile (November 14)

• The Croatian city of Vukovar surrenders to Yugoslav People’s Army and allied Serb parliamentary forces after an 87-day siege (November 18)

• Members of the Communist Party of Great Britain vote to dissolve the party and found the think-tank Democratic Left in its place (November 23)

• Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury dies from pneumonia induced by AIDS (November 24)