A snapshot of life in March 1976

Pancake fun at the pond

Proof that the sex discrimination legislation is working well in Watford was apparent on Shrove Tuesday when men took part in that traditionally female event – the pancake race. Not only were seven of the 27 competitors in the race, organised by Watford Chamber of Commerce and the Watford Observer, male, but a man came first each time when the final had to be re-run because some of the pancakes were not tossed properly.

[March 5, 1976]

Long hair blamed

A big jump in the number of schoolchildren infested with vermin is causing concern to the school health service, it was reported to Monday’s meeting of the County Education Special Services Sub-committee. In statistics for 1974, it was reported that 803 pupils were infested, compared with 483 the previous year. Replying to questions put by members an officer said she thought much longer hair worn by boys could be a factor.

[March 5, 1976]

Death knell of market

Angry Watford Market traders are saying the borough council has already sounded the death knell for its Charter Place shopping development due to open in October. They maintain that rental charges fixed by the council for stalls in the new market hall are crippling and will put many traders out of business. The result, they say, will be a half-empty market having adverse effects on shops in the vicinity.

[March 5, 1976]

Clouds lift

The opening, without pomp or ceremony, of the North Orbital extension that will one day carry the title M25, has lifted a cloud of petrol and diesel fumes from the worst choked roads in the district, if not the county. How pleasant has been the reduction of noise, congestion and irritability of those living in Uxbridge Road, Mill End, Watford Road, Croxley Green and, of course, Rickmansworth and St Albans Roads, now that much of the heavy vehicle traffic that blighted their lives has diverted to the new road. Indeed in Rickmansworth Road traffic has been moving so swiftly as to make us ponder the advisability of stricter enforcement of the speed regulations.

[March 5, 1976]

Market plan is revived

After four years, Watford FC are reviving the controversial idea of having a Sunday market at their Vicarage Road ground – because they need the extra money. The move is sure to cause a rumpus among Watford borough councillors, who last time took legal action to force the market operators to shut up shop. The club made a formal application for planning permission to hold a Sunday market to the council two weeks ago – and are keeping their fingers crossed about the outcome. Football club secretary Mr Ron Rollitt said a Sunday market was likely to earn the club well in excess of £5,000 a year if it was operating every week.

[March 19, 1976]

Art goes underground

Will Watford Borough Council be wasting the ratepayers’ money in spending £400 to enable students and schoolchildren to paint a mural in the Market Street subway? Some members apparently thought so at Monday’s meeting, and yet even in these straitened times the idea has much to commend it. For one thing, our subways, too often the setting for graffiti, much of it unpleasant, are dingy enough places and could do with brightening up. More important, however, was the point made by Cllr Mrs Meldrum, who saw in it the chance to encourage more people to use the subway, rather than to dice with death by dashing over a very dangerous crossing.

[March 19, 1976]

Goodies coming

An application has been received from the BBC to use the Aquadrome from April 12 to 15 to film a Goodies programme about the Cod War. The BBC want to use both the Bury and Batchworth lakes, and at last night’s Highways, Works and Leisure Committee meeting officers recommend that permission be given. The BBC want to dress the jetty on Batchworth Lake with artificial lighting and mock lock gates, to resemble a fish farm, and use their own four-berth cabin cruiser on the water. There is to be a mock explosion strictly controlled by the special effects department, to safeguard fish in Batchworth Lake.

[March 26, 1976]

What was happening in the world in March 1976?

• Five people are killed when the National Police Corps uses tear gas against striking workers in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain (March 3)

• The worst cable car disaster in recorded history takes place in Cavalese, Italy, in which 43 people are killed (March 9)

• UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson unexpectedly resigns at the age of 60 (March 16)

• A Japan Air Lines Boeing 747 makes the first non-stop flight from Tokyo to New York City (March 17)

• It is announced that Princess Margaret and her husband Lord Snowdon are to separate (March 19)

• Filming of the original Star Wars film begins in the Tunisian desert (March 22)

• Isabel Martinez Perón, President of Argentina, is deposed (March 24)