A snapshot of life in January 1999

Tower block fails to get listed status

Watford’s infamous Meriden estate tower blocks have been left off a controversial selection of post-war buildings which have been listed by the Government this week. Council holidays and tower blocks from around the country, among them some of the most unpopular examples of post-war housing, have been listed for special protection by arts minister Alan Howarth. But the Meriden estate, which was built in the early 1970s has not been included in the list and some residents feel pulling it down would be more appropriate than preserving it.

[January 1, 1999]

New destiny for nightclub

Seven years after opening and two-and-a-half million customers later, Kudos nightclub has closed its doors as part of a £3million refurbishment. As many as 46 members of staff were made redundant by the closure of Watford’s biggest nightspot on Saturday. It will reopen on March 27 under a new name – Destiny. Twice voted UK nightclub of the year, and previously called Paradise Lost, Baileys and Top Rank, the management has heralded the change as a new generation nightclub for the Millennium and beyond.

[January 8, 1999]

House of the future

A home for the year 2000 offering the latest gizmos and gadgetry is now complete at the Building Research Establishment in Garston. The Millennium House, offering the latest in hi-tech and environmentally friendly living, is a bold new construction aiming to revolutionise the way people live their lives. The plethora of gadgets ranges from wind turbine-driven electricity for energy back-up to an alarm that sounds if the fridge door is left ajar. The house was commissioned by the BBC and is featured in a weekly six-part television series, entitled Dream House, which started this week.

[January 8, 1999]

Town prepares to trade in euro

After the launch of the euro this week, Watford’s shops are getting ready for the prospect of trading in the new European currency. The euro will not be launched as coins and notes until 2002, but, as of this week, euro cheques and travellers cheques are available. Watford’s High Street’s traditional department store, Clements, is getting ready for integration by planning an in-shop currency exchange.

[January 8, 1999]

Beer mats will woo young voters

Beer mats urging young people to vote in this year’s local elections will be circulated around Watford’s pubs and nightspots. The idea to get young people to the polling booths was agreed at Watford Council’s policy and resources committee as it considered an action plan to target 18 to 35-year-old non-voters. The coaster campaign to convince young adults to “think while they drink” is part of a wider plan to increase public awareness of local elections and draw in a wider spectrum of voters.

[January 22, 1999]

Diggers swing into action for new-look village

Plans to create a safer, more welcoming village are being realised in Abbots Langley this week. Workers hit the streets on Monday to begin phase one of the village’s regeneration programme. It is hoped the improvements will enable the new-look Abbots Langley to attract the expected influx of visitors to the expanding Leavesden Film Studios. Wider pavements, new street lighting and improved parking and landscaping will be part of the £220,000 scheme.

[January 22, 1999]

Tram plan on track

An £80million tram system that will run from Watford to St Albans and Hatfield is in the pipeline. The “high quality, high speed” service, unveiled by Hertfordshire County Council, was championed as a service for the 21st century, opening in 2007. But Watford Council called on its county colleagues to bin the proposals and sort out the problems of the Green Route before “running away” with the new project which has been touted as a panacea to the town’s traffic nightmare. Described as more of a bus on tracks, the service will be set on rubber wheels and will be powered by electricity where possible.

[January 29, 1999]

Rookies learn the ropes

The ancient art of bell-ringing was taught at St Paul’s Church in Langleybury on Saturday after people answered a call to herald the new Millennium. A national initiative to encourage the 5,500 British churches with ringable bells to sound out at midday on New Year’s Day 2000, led to a packed bell tower at St Paul’s. Budding campanologists who answered the call of Central Council of Church Bell-Ringers learned the ropes in an open morning at the church.

[January 29, 1999]

What was happening in the world in January 1999?

• The euro currency is introduced (January 1)

• A brutal snowstorm in the Midwestern United States causes 14 inches of snow in Milwaukee and 19 inches in Chicago (January 2)

• Britney Spears release her debut album (January 12)

• NBA superstar Michael Jordan announces his second retirement from basketball (January 13)

• In one of the largest drug busts in American history, the US Coast Guard intercepts a ship with over 9,500lbs of cocaine aboard (January 21)

• Family Guy debuts on Fox (January 31)

• Silent Hill debuts for the original PlayStation console (January 31)