A snapshot of life in January 2000

Welcome to the 21st century

Thousands of people turned out for Watford’s first ever council-run New Year’s Eve street party to welcome the Millennium. The community event proved such a success it exceeded the expectations of Watford Council organisers, as crowds lined the streets to cheer a lantern procession, which kick-started celebrations at 4pm. As more than 500 lantern paraders dispatched from Watford Town Hall, Hong Kong counted in its new year and the Millennium dawned in parts of the southern hemisphere. Many praised the council for arranging something special for people of all ages to enjoy, and for some children it was the first new year’s event in which they were able to take part.

[January 7, 2000]

Elvis is king of pupils’ list of idols

Pupils at a school in Watford astounded staff when they chose Elvis Presley as their Personality of the Millennium. Students in years 7 and 8 at Watford Grammar School for Boys in Rickmansworth Road were asked to take a vote on who they believed should receive this title. The shortlist included Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Christopher Columbus, Mohammed Ali, Martin Luther King and the winning entry.

[January 14, 2000]

School test proposal

Secondary heads in Watford have denounced the Government’s latest plan to improve tests in English and Maths on 12-year-olds as “nonsense”. Following the success of the numeracy and literacy hour in the county’s primary schools, Education Secretary David Blunkett revealed proposals last week to consolidate and maintain these high standards. This would be achieved through a programme of testing at the end of the first year of secondary school, following hot on the heels of the introduction of standard assessment tests (SATS) for pupils aged four and five, seven, 11 and 14.

[January 14, 2000]

65 jobs at bigger Tesco

Jobs for 65 people will be created at Tesco’s expanded Watford store in Lower High Street. The full and part-time jobs have been created by the shop’s 24-hour opening policy, its new internet home shopping service and the extra departments in the extended store. Some of the store’s shop floor staff work on roller blades to help move around quickly and collect items for customers, but there are no vacancies for those parts because they have proved exceptionally popular.

[January 21, 2000]

Town’s oldest music shop makes its TV debut

The oldest music shop in Watford is to make its television debut in an advertising commercial after film crew Garretts fell for its old-fashioned look. Cast and crew, including a Mick Jagger lookalike, descended on the Queen’s Road Music Shop in the early hours of Tuesday morning to film a commercial about the name change of TalkRadio to SportRadio. Owner of the music shop Mr Stan Freeman said: “I have been here 45 years and I was pleased to be asked to let them use my shop. They have been very polite and I have not had to do much.”

[January 21, 2000]

Night buses to carry on despite apathy

A trial night bus service to cut the number of rowdy revellers hanging about in the town centre waiting for cabs is set to continue despite disappointing results. The buses, N1 and N2, have failed to attract the potential thousands known to be using The Parade’s café and club area on Friday and Saturday nights. However, just enough support is being shown, particularly on Saturday night, that the six month trial, which started in November, is to be allowed to continue in the hope that publicity will guarantee more interest.

[January 28, 2000]

What was happening in the world in January 2000?

• Y2K passes without the serious, widespread computer failures and malfunctions that had been predicted (January 1)

• IRL driver Sam Schmidt is paralysed after a crash in preseason testing at the Walt Disney World Speedway (January 6)

• The last Pyrenean ibex, a type of wild goat, is found dead (January 6)

• In the UK, the Ministry of Defence allows homosexual men, lesbians and transgender personnel to join the British Armed Forces (January 12)

• Maxim Petrov, a Russian serial killer nicknamed Doctor Death by the media, is arrested for the killing of 12 people (January 17)

• Austrian actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr dies at the age of 85 (January 19)

• A total lunar eclipse takes place, the first of two total lunar eclipses of the year (January 21)

• Toy Story 2 wins the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (January 23)

• Dr Harold Shipman is sentenced to life in prison for the murder of at least 15 of his patients out of 365 suspected victims (January 31)