A snapshot of life in February 1974

Think up a name and win

Here’s your chance to have a say and win a prize – for naming the massive town centre development in Watford’s former central car park and market site. Watford Borough Council and the Watford Observer are jointly sponsoring a competition with £20 as first prize (plus adoption of the name selected) and five consolation prizes of £5 each for the best runners-up. When completed the new complex will provide 21 shop units, a new hall for Watford Market, a large supermarket, departmental store, public house and a restaurant. Work is now under way, and the new complex is due to open in spring 1977, having cost an estimated £10million.

[February 1, 1974]

School closes after 114 years

A link with Victorian Watford will end this summer when Watford’s oldest infants’ school, St Andrew’s in Sotheron Road, closes. Started in 1860 by the church, for children of the parish, the school building was erected on the site in 1869. There are only 20 pupils at the school now, half of whom would have been transferred to the Central Primary School in September anyway. Now the other ten will be transferred to the Infant unit which opened at the Central Primary School last Easter.

[February 1, 1974]

No need for a nurse in the village

There is no longer a case for having a district nurse living in Kings Langley, parish councillor Dr MacConaill told councillors at Friday’s meeting. “When we had district nurses we didn’t have a health service,” she said, pointing out that the number of home deliveries of babies had dropped tremendously and that people could now go to their doctors about everything. The council were discussing the question of the former district nurse’s bungalow in Alexandra Road, bought with money raised by villagers, and now no longer used by a district nurse.

[February 8, 1974]

Fountain gifts

Managing director of Clements, Mr Richard Edmonds, is to “buy” Watford two more Pond fountains – despite the criticism handed out to his first attempt to brighten up the area. He has agreed to give £770 towards the cost of fountains being installed as part of the town council’s landscaping of the Pond area. Five years ago Mr Edmonds paid for the white space-age fountain which attracted much controversy and adverse comments. Eventually the fountain was removed after it became discoloured. But Mr Edmonds is undeterred: “Here was a chance to have a second try.”

[February 15, 1974]

Pop protesters

Protesting teenagers have won a reprieve for their Saturday morning Junior Pop Club at Watford’s Top Rank Suite. They were furious because last week they were told tomorrow’s club would be the final one. Schoolgirls came into the Watford Observer office to protest about the closure. They even asked the Mayor and local councillors to help them keep the Saturday morning “rave-ups”, when hundreds of youngsters – aged between six and 14 – dance to the latest pop records and take part in competitions. On Tuesday Rank Leisure Services told the Watford Observer that they had changed their minds. A spokesman said: “We have decided to continue the sessions to avoid disappointing the children who have supported them.”

[February 22, 1974]

On the wings of hope

There will be few residents of Bushey – and many from outside – who will not join us in echoing the hopes of the council’s Parks and Allotments Committee that the new Hertsmere District Council will be willing to think again about the grant they have earmarked for this year’s Bank Holiday show. The show, a major attraction for a large area, has become one of the outstanding features of the local calendar, but like most other organisations, the Horticultural Society have to face up to sharply rising costs in staging it. The society had to put in an extra £100 last year, and this year they had been hoping that the council would be able to increase their grant. However, Hertsmere have estimated there is provision for only £250 – an amount which could place the society in some difficulty.

[February 22, 1974]

What was happening in the world in February 1974?

  • Playmobil toys debut at the Nuremberg Toy Fair (February 2)
  • A Provisional Irish Republican Army bomb explodes on a bus in West Yorkshire, carrying British Army soldiers and some of their family members (February 4)
  • Heiress Patty Hearst is kidnapped outside her apartment in California by the Symbionese Liberation Army (February 4)
  • British miners begin their strike in reaction to the three-day week (February 5)
  • UK Prime Minister Edward Heath calls for a snap general election (February 7)
  • After a record 84 days in orbit, the crew of Skylab 4 returns to Earth (February 8)
  • The first episode of children’s television series Bagpuss airs in Britain (February 12)
  • 49 people died in a stampede for seats at a soccer match in Cairo, Egypt (February 17)
  • The UK general election results in a hung parliament (February 28)