Candidate gets a rude shock

The Communist candidate in the Watford Rural Council by-election will not be allowed to stand – because two numbers on his nomination paper were incorrect. When told by the Observer on Tuesday – the day nominations closed for the election – that his nomination was invalid, the candidate, Mr David Waddington, snorted: “I should think this is very finicky.”

[May 3, 1968]

Schoolboy makes a stand

The person who cared enough about the threatened destruction of Cassiobury Park gates to make his own personal protest is a 17-year-old Watford Grammar School pupil, Peter Holloway, of Garden Close. Peter says: ‘I am horrified over the possible demolition of OUR park gates.’ He was responsible for the ‘Hands Off Our Park Gates’ notice which appeared at the park entrance. The sign has now been removed.

[May 3, 1968]

Ask me again

American star Dick Van Dyke, who was living in the vicinity while making a film, was asked by Rickmansworth Society if he would take part in the Rickmansworth Week celebrations. After some time, Mr Van Dyke wrote that he was unable to be there during the Week, as he was now back in the United States, but he hoped the Society would invite him again.

[May 3, 1968]

Pool problem

The unexpectedly warm spring weather has brought an annual problem to a head earlier than usual in the season. This is whether the children’s playground, with its swings and paddling pool, at the bottom of Cassiobury Park, is fit to play in? Perturbed mothers have complained of filthy water, of a pool so slimy that children slipped and fell, and of “waterlogged” play equipment surrounded by a marsh.

[May 3, 1968]

Oxhey pickets

When South-West Herts Conservative MP Gilbert Longden arrived for a meeting at Oxhey on Friday he found a ‘reception committee’ of irate tenants with placards saying ‘freeze rents’. He met the protestors with his characteristic good humour, dispersing them with a smile.

[May 10, 1968]

Airport has potential

Added prosperity may be coming to Watford in the future – from the skies. A number of concerns have built up thriving businesses at Leavesden Airport, and are eager to see its potential developed. A suggestion to rename it London Airport – Watford will also be considered in the light of findings from a market research survey.

[May 17, 1968]

Bandits raid van

Five armed men held up a security van, blinded the guards with ammonia and escaped with over £6,000 at Pratt’s Sidings, Watford, on Wednesday morning.

[May 17, 1968]

Fastest in Britain

When Janet Simpson flashed through the tape in 55.9sec at Woodside on Saturday in the Herts Women’s AAA Championship she not only won convincingly – she became the fastest woman quarter-miler of the season. Janet, former Watford Technical High School pupil, came to prominence as a sprinter. More recently, she has won Olympic, European and Commonwealth Games recognition.

[May 24, 1968]

What was happening in the world in May 1968?

• The administration of the Paris University at Nanterre effectively shuts down the university after a period of conflict between students and authorities (May 2)

• More than 20,000 protestors stage a march to protest against police actions at the Sorbonne. The police respond with tear gas (May 6)

• British racing driver Mike Spence dies while test driving a turbocar in preparation for the Indianapolis 500 race (May 7)

• A one day general strike is called in France. Protests continue (May 13)

• An outbreak of severe thunderstorms results in tornadoes in Iowa and Arkansas (May 14)

• Ronan Point, a 23-storey tower block in Canning Town, east London, partially collapses after a gas explosion, killing five people. This leads to changes in UK design legislation (May 16)

• Anti-war demonstrators enter the Selective Services offices in Maryland and burn draft records with napalm (May 17)

• A surface-to-air missile destroys an enemy aircraft for the first time when the US Navy shoots down a North Vietnamese plane (May 23)

• The Cannes Film Festival ends early after several films are withdrawn because of the unrest in France (May 24)

• A crowd of 400 protestors gather in Louisville, Kentucky, partially in response to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. The rioting lasts for nearly two days, and two people are killed (May 27)

• French President Charles de Gaulle threatens to declare a state of emergency after refusing to resign and calling for an election (May 30)