A snapshot of life in November 1992

Giant retail park

Land at Watford’s Lower High Street may be developed into a huge non-food retail park if proposals currently before the Borough Council go ahead. The redevelopment would affect an area of about 4.6 acres on the south west side of the Lower High Street. The site forms the ‘island’ of the gyratory system proposed by Watford Borough Council to relieve traffic congestion in the Lower High Street. At present it comprises the existing B&Q store, Kwik Fit Sales Workshop and the Car Herts sales pitch fronting the Lower High Street.

[November 2, 1992]

Community care for mentally ill

Some of the stigma surrounding mental health should be eased with a new centre about to open in the town. The Community Health Centre will be up and running in St Albans Road, Garston, by the end of the month. Set up jointly between the South West Herts Health Authority and Social Services it will offer counselling and emergency help for people suffering from mental illness. Organisers hope it will be a big step towards ending the fear and ignorance that surrounds mental illness by taking the service away from hospitals.

[November 6, 1992]

Saving lives

The battle to preserve the 999 emergency telephone system from radical, some say life-threatening, change is hotting up. The Government is considering plans to switch BT’s handling of emergency calls to a telephone answering agency. The agency would alert police, fire, ambulance and coast guards of emergency calls, and then invoice local authorities for the service. The new system would reduce the number of centres receiving emergency calls from 80 throughout the country to just three. The 70,000 calls made each year would then be coordinated by a central computer. The prospect of such a change has already set alarm bells ringing among members of the emergency services. They say it is a recipe for disaster. No system is perfect but the current 999 procedure is as near as it can be to perfection, those aiming to preserve it argue.

[November 13, 1992]

Elton’s AIDS aid

Elton John is setting up a charity to help fund AIDS research and ease the suffering of victims of the killer disease. The new Elton John AIDS Foundation will be backed up by royalties from sales of the superstar’s singles, money raised at fundraising events and other donations. The pop star, who has spent a total of 17 years on the board of directors of Watford Football Club, has given around £500,000 to AIDS research in the past three years. His new foundation will aim to invest in research into the causes, origins, transmission and treatment of the condition.

[November 20, 1992]

Town set for £3m facelift

Phase one of the town centre enhancement scheme for Watford is due to begin in April next year. This first phase involves work on King Street to Market Street and is due to be completed by next October. It is part of a huge overhaul for the town’s shopping centre that should eventually vastly improve the appearance of the whole of the High Street and The Parade by 1997. The estimated cost of the entire scheme is around £3million.

[November 20, 1992]

Print chapter comes to an end

An era came to an end last Thursday when the Watford Observer was produced by compositors working at the newspaper’s Rickmansworth Road base for the last time. The newspaper’s production has transferred to High Wycombe following re-organisation within Westminster Press. Production of the Watford Observer and its sister newspapers, the Free Observer, St Albans and Harpenden Observer and the Hendon Times Series, has moved to the Bucks Free Press. The newspaper’s editorial, advertising and circulation departments will remain at the Watford site they have occupied for three decades.

[November 20, 1992]

Springs to close for maintenance

The Watford Springs leisure complex is to close for seven days next month so essential maintenance can be carried out. The leisure facility – recently described as the “most parent friendly” in Britain in a Daily Telegraph survey – has been plagued by problems since it opened two years ago. Just last week manager Nick Cave and Watford Council had to leap to the defence of Watford Springs after pool users branded it “filthy” and complained of leaks, lack of privacy and poor ventilation. Now it has announced that the pool will close its doors to the public between December 14 and December 20 – said to be the lowest week in terms of attendance and income.

[November 20, 1992]

Peace has her victory

New life is to be breathed into the decaying Peace Memorial Hospital with news that it can at last by redeveloped as a hospice. This is a major victory for the thousands of campaigners who have fought for seven years to save the building in Rickmansworth Road, Watford, which was paid for by public subscription after World War I. It is also wonderful news for those who have been trying so hard to raise £2million for a desperately needed hospice for the terminally ill of South West Hertfordshire. After years of deliberation about the future of the Peace, South West Herts Health Authority finally agreed this week that part of the site could be developed as a hospice. A 17,000 signature petition presented to the authority at the beginning of the year had left it in no doubt about the strength of public feeling for the Peace.

[November 27, 1992]

New £2m station

Plans for a new £2million Rickmansworth station have been unveiled by the team behind the CrossRail link. Rickmansworth will be the only totally new station to be built by CrossRail in the outer London area. And the plans for it are the first to be released of all the new or upgraded stations on the line. CrossRail is the link that will take rail passengers from Aylesbury in the west to Shenfield in the east, through central London stations. The existing Rickmansworth station has to be replaced because it is built on a curve and would not be able to cater for the new longer CrossRail trains.

[November 27, 1992]

What was happening in the world in November 1992?

• Bill Clinton defeats George H.W. Bush in the 1992 US Presidential Election (November 3)

• Rage Against the Machine release their debut album (November 3)

• More than 350,000 people rally in Berlin to protest right-wing violence against immigrants (November 8)

• The Church of England votes to allow women to become priests (November 11)

• British TV comedy Absolutely Fabulous, starring Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley, first appears on the BBC (November 12)

• Windsor Castle is damaged in a fire (November 20)

• The Czechoslovakia Federal Assembly votes to split the country into the Czech Republic and Slovakia (November 25)

• The government of Venezuela announces that it has put down a coup attempt by a group of army officers who bombed the presidential palace (November 27)