A snapshot of life in December 1994

Fans flock to meet ‘El Tel’

England football coach Terry Venables came to the Harlequin shopping centre on Friday to sign copies of his new book. Crowds flocked to WH Smith to catch a glimpse of ‘El Tel’ the national team boss who has tried to put his troubles with Spurs chairman Alan Sugar behind him. More than 200 copes of ‘Venables’ were sold on the day, and sales have been high ever since. He stayed for an hour chatting and signing autographs. A spokesman for the shop said: “He was quite jolly and his visit was very successful.”

[December 2, 1994]

Work starts on future leisure park

Work on the controversial leisure park in north Watford is finally under way – seven years after plans for what became dubbed the “horrordome” were first put forward. People living nearby went through months of objecting, spent thousands of pounds of their own money on a long public inquiry and had endless negotiations in an attempt to stop the development. Now, although their battle is finally lost, they are still concerned about work on the site – particularly the effect lorries, mud and noise could have on their lives. But removing the decomposing rubbish from the site is proving interesting to those working there. Intact objects recovered so far include a newspaper from the 1950s, a wartime helmet and a gas mask. The park, expected to open before the end of the year, will include an eight screen cinema, a bowling alley, an ice rink and two eating places.

[December 2, 1994]

College becomes film set for TV drama

Film crews have been hard at work in Chorleywood filming a new series that will be screened next year. Cameras rolled at Chorleywood College, in Dog Kennel Lane, this week as the BBC filmed a drama called The Shadowy Third for its new Ghost Story series. Crews have built sets and dressed a number of the ornate rooms of the Grade II listed building to recreate a mysterious thriller scene in the heart of the soon-to-be developed college. The library of the college was the main scene for much of the action. The elaborate Victorian conservatory at the side of the mansion was also recently used by the BBC to film The Great Kadinsky, with actor Richard Harris.

[December 9, 1994]

Film studios for airfield?

A mystery consortium has launched a bid to turn Leavesden Aerodrome into a permanent film studio complex and if the idea comes to fruition it could bring up to 1,800 jobs to the area. Full details of the proposal are being kept secret but among the plans are schemes for a film studio, a hi-tech virtual reality leisure facility, housing and offices. Leavesden Aerodrome is still owned by Rolls-Royce, but factory work stopped there more than a year ago. Rolls-Royce is still trying to sell the site and insiders believe a deal could be struck by early next year.

[December 16, 1994]

Group steps up its fight over Europe

Euro-sceptics from Hertfordshire gathered to speak out against a federal Europe last week. Members of the Hertfordshire Branch of the Campaign for Independent Britain (CIB) aired their views on membership of the European Union and its implications for British sovereignty. Branch chairman Bryan Smalley spoke on what he believes are the dangers of a “politically integrated” Europe. He said Britain had been adversely affected by membership of the European Community from the outset. However, Hertfordshire’s Euro MP Dr Peter Truscott believes withdrawal from the EU would spell economic disaster for Britain.

[December 16, 1994]

Pub’s managers over the moon at opening

Managers of JD Wetherspoon’s new pub in Watford High Street, Liam and Josephine Kennedy, say cheers to the £1million The Moon Under Water. The traditional-style pub has been built on the site of the former Next store and opened to the public on Wednesday. It takes its name from an essay by novelist George Orwell, who described his favourite pub as one without music, offering good beer and food and with a convivial atmosphere – and he called his fictional pub The Moon Under Water. Likewise this new pub has no pool tables or jukeboxes and specialises in selling five real ales at all times, including one at 99p per pint.

[December 23, 1994]

New Year cash boost for jobless

The fight against unemployment in South West Hertfordshire will be given new impetus in the New Year with a huge injection of cash from the European Union. Up to £3million will be invested in Hertfordshire – much of it already pledged to the Watford area – as part of the EU’s KONVER fund to regenerate areas adversely affected by the end of the Cold War. The promise of fresh investment comes just two weeks after the Government announced a £3.6million jobs package for the county, the lion’s share initially being given to this area. The KONVER programme was set up to help defence-related industries convert to civilian production and lessen the number of jobs lost in the process.

[December 30, 1994]

What was happening in the world in December 1994?

• Taiwan holds its first full local elections (December 3)

• More than 300 children die in a fire which engulfs a theatre in Karamay, China (December 8)

• Russian president Boris Yeltsin orders troops into Chechnya (December 11)

• Fred West is charged with murdering 12 people whose bodies were found buried at his house in Gloucester. His wife Rose is charged with 10 murders (December 13)

• Three people drown in what was described as Scotland’s worst flood in living memory (December 13)

• Construction commences on the Three Gorges Dam at Sandouping, China (December 14)

• Civil unions between same-sex couples are legalised in Sweden (December 19)

• The Whitewater scandal investigation begins in Washington DC (December 19)