A snapshot of life in March 1977

Shopperbus success

Watford’s free Christmas shopperbus service drew thousands of extra customers into the town’s shops, a survey has revealed. Over a quarter of the 23,000 passengers who used the coaches – ferrying people between Watford Junction station and the town centre – said the only reason they shopped in Watford was because of the free service. Now, traders who heard their tills ringing at a record rate last year are to be asked to give money to help pay for the scheme this Christmas.

[March 4, 1977]

Abbots Langley’s shame

There will be no flagpole in Abbots Langley to commemorate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee because the parish council are afraid of vandalism. Though most councillors wanted a pole to be put up outside their offices, they reluctantly adopted a “safety-first” attitude and voted against the idea. “Do the people of Abbots Langley really want their money spent on a flagpole that is going to be regularly vandalised?” Cllr Don Ballard asked.

[March 11, 1977]

Europe is the dream

Political parties joined forces at the inaugural meeting of the West Herts Branch of the European Movement, held on Friday. South West Herts MP Mr Geoffrey Dodsworth was elected president, and told members that it was important for the branch to have an all-party approach. “The important thing is that we are all interested in the European ideal,” he said.

[March 11, 1977]

Mrs Thatcher is coming to town

Opposition leader Mrs Margaret Thatcher is to visit Watford and Hemel Hempstead on April 1. During a whirlwind tour of marginal constituencies, Mrs Thatcher is expected to spend a little time in the borough town centre before proceeding to Hemel Hempstead where she will speak at a luncheon for Conservative representatives from Hertfordshire and southern Bedfordshire. The tour includes visits to two of the area’s major industries – the Roche Products plant in Welwyn Garden City and the Vauxhall Motor Works in Luton.

[March 18, 1977]

New canoes for trip

Four canoeists who intend to paddle their way from Mainz to Watford in the summer took delivery of their 18ft glass fibre kayaks on Saturday. The purpose of the expedition is to mark the 21st anniversary of the Watford and Mainz link. They will set off on July 21 along the River Rhine in Mainz, passing through the wine growing and industrial areas of Germany, across the plans of Holland to the Dutch Delta and the coasts of Belgium and France. Then they will navigate across the Channel, up the Kent coast and into the Thames. Finally, they will negotiate the Grand Union Canal and disembark in Watford on September 3.

[March 18, 1977]

Chipperfield off the mark

Chipperfield is off the mark with its first event to mark the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. On Saturday, Jubilee Tree Day, Lt. Col. Bob Morkill, president of the village branch of the Royal British Legion, planted a sweet chestnut on the common.

[March 25, 1977]

Jubilee plans

Plans for celebrating the Queen’s Silver Jubilee began to take shape. Hertsmere announces the setting-up of an endowment trust fund and boasts something like a “scoop” in having the Lord Lieutenant at the big Jubilee launching dinner. At Chorleywood there are proposals for a 30ft beacon, fireworks, fancy dress parades and activities lasting from 2pm to midnight on June 7. Even an ox roasting is under consideration. The villages, too, have been busy. Abbots Langley plans a carnival, and Sarratt expect to have a bonfire on the green. And Watford? Beyond whispers of street parties in some parts of the borough, there has been little to suggest that the town is aware that a major celebration is in prospect. Far from lying down under the weight of our national economic problems, this is surely a good time to let our hair down.

[March 25, 1977]

What was happening in the world in March 1977?

• Bette Davis becomes the first woman to receive the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award (March 2)

• Formula One driver Tom Pryce dies after colliding with a track marshal at the South African Grand Prix in Kyalami (March 5)

• A dozen armed Hanafi Movement members take over three buildings in Washington DC, killing one person and taking more than 130 hostages (March 9)

• The United States lifts the ban on travel by US citizens to Cambodia, Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam (March 18)

• The Clash release their first single, White Riot (March 18)

• Elvis Costello releases his first record, Less Than Zero (March 26)

• 583 die in aviation’s worst ever disaster when two Boeing 747s collide at Tenerife airport in Spain (March 27)