The death of a music superstar, plans to redevelop a South Oxhey pub, the murder of a West Herts College student and bad weather were among the stories making the headlines in the Watford Observer five and ten years ago this week.

Look back at these three stories from the first week of 2017 and 2012.


'George was completely different from how you saw him on stage': Former schoolmate recalls George Michael's early years

A former schoolfriend of George Michael has recalled some of his early musical outings with Wham! partner Andrew Ridgeley.

Kim White (née Mallon) lived in Middle Furlong, Bushey and was in the same class as Andrew Ridgeley’s younger brother Paul.

She attended Bushey Meads from 1975 to 1980.

Watford Observer:

Tributes to George Michael following the star's death

Kim said: “We were split into groups for different subjects so I wasn’t in every class with Paul, but I remember him and George as friends at school, though we were in the year below him and Andrew.

“I knew they practised in St Peter’s church hall up in Bushey Heath and were in a band called The Executive.”

The five-piece ska band, formed in the summer of 1979, comprised George, Andrew and Paul along with David Austin and Andrew Leaver.

Watford Observer:

The Grapevine in Prestwick Road, South Oxhey. Picture: Google Street View

Pub could be knocked down and replaced with two blocks of flats

A pub will be demolished and replaced with two blocks of flats if a planning application is approved.

The Grapevine, in Prestwick Road, South Oxhey, could be pulled down to make way for 33 flats. A three-storey block will contain 20 two-bedroom and nine one-bedroom flats, and a two-storey block will hold four two-bedroom apartments.

The plans, which were submitted to Three Rivers District Council by Watford Community Housing Trust, will include 15 affordable homes - 10 apartments will be socially rented and five will be shared ownership.

Watford Observer:

The Victorian villas at 73 and 75 Clarendon Road

'Watford's historic buildings are slowly being destroyed': Outrage at plans to demolish Victorian houses

“Watford's historic buildings are, slowly and steadily, being destroyed.”

These are the words of warning from residents opposed to the demolition of listed Victorian buildings in the town centre.

TJX Europe, which operates TK Maxx, is hoping to expand its European headquarters that is based on Clarendon Road – but this means demolishing two villas that were built in 1865.

When they were built, Clarendon Road was filled with similar houses. But over the years, the rest of the villas have been knocked down and replaced with office blocks and hotels, and 73 and 75 Clarendon Road are the only ones remaining.


Storms batter region

High winds and torrential rain left chimneys damaged, trees felled and roads flooded as extreme weather swept across Watford this morning (January 3).

Hertfordshire Highways responded to more than 200 reports of damage to the county’s road network including flooding, potholes and blocked drains, as the heavy weather set in.

Watford Observer:

Tree falls across Watford Road in Northwood

Strong gusts whipped around Watford throughout the morning, toppling bins and rubbish into streets.

The gales also ripped branches off in other areas of the town and uprooted a whole tree which crashed across Watford Road in Northwood.

Watford Observer:

Catherine Wynter

College leaves tributes to Catherine Wynter

Teachers of a West Herts College student, found stabbed to death on Boxing Day, said the 19-year-old had “a bright future before her”.

Catherine Wynter, 19, was found by her mother after being stabbed to death at a house in Borehamwood on December 26.

Her lecturers at West Herts College in Hempstead Road described Miss Wynter as a very talented artist.

Andrea Turvey, illustration tutor, said: “Katie was a sweet girl, kind friendly and very genuine. She was extremely creative and had great potential.”

David Eaton, illustration tutor, said: “Katie was a wonderful young woman, with a bright future before her.

“She was talented and hardworking, hoping to become a professional illustrator. Very friendly and popular she will no doubt be sorely missed by both students and tutors.”

  • Tony Bushby, of Digswell Court, Borehamwood, was found guilty of Catherine’s murder in July 2012. He was sentenced to life in prison for a minimum of 25 years.

Watford Observer:

Resident Frank Copper outside Faraday Court

Raw sewage flows into Watford estate after pump failure

Raw sewage has flowed into a West Watford estate after a sanitation pump became overwhelmed over the festive and New Year period.

Residents in Stripling Way have complained about the foul stench coming from the water pouring down a hill from a private housing development above them.

Concerns have also been raised about children attending Laurance Haines Primary who walk up the hill en route to school.

However, attempts to get the problem solved have been impeded by confusion over who is responsible for the pump.

The area’s county councillor Nigel Bell said he had spent days trying to get to the bottom of the mystery and that he suspected there was “buck passing” going on over the issue.