We have been looking back through the Watford Observer archives and here are some of the stories that were making the headlines ten and five years ago this week.

Ten years ago

Historic house fire in Northwood

A historic building being converted into an “exclusive development” of new homes went up in smoke as firefighters battled “ten foot flames” in Northwood.

Windows were smashed, gutters left hanging from the walls, with burnt timber frames all that was left of the roof as fire broke out at Valency House, in Batchworth Lane.

The building was the former home of a Maritime Unit formed during the Cold War to protect NATO forces against the threat of Russian submarines.

Crews from Watford, Garston, Rickmansworth, Bushey and the aerial ladder platform were called to the scene at 11.13pm on Saturday night, with the blaze extinguished by 5am today (Sunday).

'Stadium decision could hardly be more important'

Saracens chief executive Edward Griffiths claims the decision whether to remain at Vicarage Road “could hardly be more important to the future of the club” and says it is unlikely they will decide by this weekend.

Sarries should have informed Watford if they were staying beyond this season on September 3 but Griffiths says the decision still hasn’t been made.

The chief executive said he “cannot put a date” on when the announcement will be made but confirmed it is highly unlikely a decision will be forthcoming by this weekend.

Griffiths said: “There are lots of factors involved and the decision as to where Saracens play is crucial, it could hardly be more important to the future of the club so it is not a decision we are taking lightly. It’s a decision we will make when we are absolutely convinced everything is in place.

“We would very much have liked everything in place by September 3 but the fact is it wasn’t.

“There is no lack of urgency or activity on our side and it would be completely wrong to suggest we are sitting on our hands and stalling.

“We want to make the decision as quickly as possible but we will make the right decision, not a quick decision.”

'You'll struggle to find better anywhere in the country'

Watford Observer:

Nigel Callaghan. Photo Action Images

Nigel Callaghan believes you will not find a better line-up for a legends game anywhere in the country when Watford take on Derby County in his benefit match on Sunday.

Callaghan was diagnosed with bowel cancer in November and has been unable to work for most of this year due to a six-month course of chemotherapy, which finished this week.

‘Cally’s’ old Watford manager and former England boss Graham Taylor will lead a Hornets team, which will include legends such as John Barnes, Luther Blissett and Nigel Gibbs.

The Derby side, who will be managed by Roy McFarland, will see the likes of Peter Shilton, Dean Sturridge and Dean Saunders return to Pride Park, with County legend Igor Stimac flying in from Croatia especially for the game.

“If you look at the list of players on both sides, you will struggle to get a better list of players than that for a legends game anywhere in the country at the moment,” Callaghan said.

“This will be a more competitive game than people think it will be. There are some players there who are still match fit and I think both managers are going to want to win the game.

“This will not be just any old benefit game, there will be a lot of pride there and some competitive tackles going in.”


Red Lion pub listed as community asset

Watford Observer:

A popular Watford pub has been listed as a community asset after an application was approved by the council.

Campaigners, including councillors, residents, a Watford brewery and the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), launched a bid to get the Red Lion in Vicarage Road listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) last month.

Watford Borough Council yesterday approved the application, and said the property will remain on the register for five years or until notification of a relevant disposal.

Listing the venue as an asset of community value means community groups interested in buying the pub, which closed in January 2014, will be given six months to raise the money.

Flores: I'm really happy because the strikers needed to score

Watford Observer:

Quique Sanchez Flores. Photo: Action Images

Quique Sanchez Flores was pleased to see Odion Ighalo secure a first Premier League win for the Hornets, 1-0 against Swansea City, admitting afterwards his strikers had needed to score.

The Nigerian got the decisive goal just before the hour mark, side-footing underneath the advancing Lukasz Fabianski to give Watford a welcome first three points at the fifth attempt.

That strike – his second of the season – ended a run of four games without a goal for the Hornets in the league and cup too.

Valon Behrami was sent off four minutes later but the Golden Boys held out to clinch their first win in the top flight since May 2007 when they won 2-0 at Reading.

Fundraiser to run 12 marathons in 12 months

Watford Observer:

Jude at mile 21 at the London Marathon in April

A fundraiser from from Watford has raised more than £7,000 by taking on a mammoth 12 marathons in 12 months.

Jude Allen, 37, decided to raise funds for SweetTree Farming For All, which provides guided activities and training at allotment, farm, outdoor or educational sites for adults and young people with a variety of support needs.

She said: "I'm not a natural runner by any stretch of the imagination

"After working myself up to do a 20 mile challenge last year I decided I could do more.

"I am aiming to raise £12,000 in 12 months so that we can carry out vital work in the community."