A snapshot of life in March 1978

120 berth marina is nearer

A £100,000 “messing-about-with-boats” plan to turn a 6 ½ acre eyesore at Cassiobridge Wharf on the Watford-Rickmansworth boundary into a luxury haven for Britain’s waterway-wanderers is almost as much a reality now as a pebble-throw across the canal. The 120-berth marina has been the dream of Fred Good and his son Steve ever since they started up five years ago hiring and selling boats on the site. With plans new, then plans modified, they battled to win authorities over to their proposals for the expensive facelift. Finally, they are on the verge of success.

[March 3, 1978]

Fruit ban

Watford Co-op will ban sales of South African tinned fruit in its High Street store for a week starting on March 13 as part of London Co-operative’s action week protesting about apartheid in South Africa. The news was given to an audience of over 100 at the Charter Place YMCA on Thursday evening when the Co-op Political and Education Committee held a meeting calling for the end of apartheid, one-man-one-vote, and independence for Namibia and Zimbabwe. The main speaker, Lord Fenner Brockway, who is now 89, told the audience that he is confident he will see a free South Africa before he dies.

[March 3, 1978]

Rolls-Royce hit the jackpot

The blue-eyed boys from Rolls-Royce at Leavesden are winging their way home from the Middle East with the richest pickings they have ever had – a signed, sealed and delivered contract for £100m worth of their world-beating helicopter engine, the Gem. This morning Rolls-Royce proudly announced that the long, long negotiations have been closed, and the deal with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates is in the bag. The Leavesden modular engines will power the Westland Lynx helicopter, holder of world speed records and fast becoming Nato’s standard machine.

[March 3, 1978]

No to concrete plant

Over 40 placard-carrying demonstrators waited on the Town Hall steps at the start of the public inquiry on Tuesday into the controversial plans to build a concrete batching plant at Garston. Public opposition to the scheme is so great that the inquiry took the unusual step of opening the large assembly room in the Town Hall to accommodate everybody. The opposition lined up against the plans of Pioneer Concrete Ltd is formidable.

[March 10, 1978]

Watford safety pioneers

Watford is one of the nine places in the county which has a new training centre for motorcycle and moped riders. The Saturday morning training scheme has been launched by the Hertfordshire County Road Safety Department. The centres have been set up in an effort to combat the increasing injury and accident rate. County Road Safety Officer Major Idwal Roberts said: “There seems little doubt that many of these accidents occur because the rider received little or no training before taking to the road.”

[March 17, 1978]

Call for free school milk

Free milk for all pupils up to the age of 16 in full-time education has been called for by Mr Robin Corbett, MP for Hemel Hempstead. Mr Corbett has sponsored a Commons motion calling on the Government to start the scheme from next September. Mr Corbett said: “This is all the more important in the context of the threatened further rise in the price of school meals.”

[March 17, 1978]

World record

The world record for balloon bursting – 14 minutes 14.5 seconds – was set in Rickmansworth on Saturday. Still slightly out of breath after his steady tread through a sea of balloons, the team leader, Mr Ron Edmonds, challenged on behalf of St Joan of Arc School any school or organisation to improve the record. The team of ten pupils, parents and teachers were closely watched by six judges and three timekeepers with certified stop watches as they burst their way through 2,000 balloons. If unchallenged the event will enter the Guinness Book of Records.

[March 24, 1978]

What was happening in the world in March 1978?

• Charlie Chaplin’s coffin and remains are stolen from the Cosier-sur-Veyvey cemetery, Switzerland (March 1)

• Wuthering Heights, the debut single by Kate Bush, charts at number one in the UK, making her the first woman to have a self-penned number one single (March 5)

• The first radio episode of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, is transmitted on BBC Radio 4 (March 8)

• Somalia and Ethiopia sign a truce to end the Ethio-Somali War (March 15)

• The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, is sentenced to death for ordering the assassination of a political opponent (March 18)

• Karl Wallenda of daredevil stunt performers The Flying Wallendas dies after falling off a tight-rope between two hotels in Puerto Rico (March 22)

• The control tower of New Tokyo International Airport, scheduled to open on March 31, are illegally occupied and damaged in a terrorist attack by New Left activists (March 26)