Firemen battle blaze

Firemen risked poisonous fumes and exploding gas cylinders as they battled to bring a blaze at a Watford town centre store under control. Thousands of pounds worth of damage was caused as flames ripped through the first floor of Milletts camping and clothing shop late on Saturday night. Passers-by raised the alarm just after 9pm when they noticed smoke coming from the newly modernised store in the High Street. Fire engines from Watford, Garston and Bushey finally left the scene by 1am on Sunday. The blaze, which is still being investigated by forensic experts, is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault.

[September 7, 1984]

100 students homeless

The accommodation situation for students enrolled on courses at Watford College has become “absolutely desperate”, said Mr Ken Levine, the college welfare officer. He had been expecting to have up to 60 homeless students but he will have up to 100 by the middle of the week. He is appealing to Watford residents to come forward and offer suitable accommodation for the students.

[September 7, 1984]

Up, up and away

Acrobatic motorcycle riding was billed for Bovingdon raceway on Sunday in a World Champion Stunt Show. Chris Bronham and his Skyriders auto-stunt display team continued their devil-may-care programme, although it was not possible for him to attempt a motorcycle leap because of a mechanical fault to his machine.

[September 7, 1984]

All the fun of the fair

Thousands of shoppers forgot their troubles at the weekend when the Watford Show transformed town centre shopping precincts into a traditional village fairground. Clowns and candyfloss, wrestling matches and charity stalls all drew crowds into the late summer sunshine.

[September 7, 1984]

Eviction plight

Three Rivers district is fast becoming a housing disaster area where parents threaten to legally evict their children to get them rehoused and where officials admit that the emergency accommodation they offer may be helping to break up families. The list of homeless families will almost have trebled in three years, and there are almost 1,200 people on the council’s housing list – which, for some, means a four-year wait.

[September 14, 1984]

Oldest woman dies

England’s oldest woman, Mrs Sarah Ann Raw, who would have been 111 on December 20, died at the home of her daughter Mrs Agnes Randall, 83, of Park Avenue, Bushey, on Monday. She was, says Mrs Randall, a happy person, someone who loved music, and who only last week was singing to herself.

[September 14, 1984]

A war we won’t survive

I refer to the letter by Mr R. Wallace, and wonder why he is so upset over the Watford War Plan, if, as I suspect, there won’t be much left of Watford and adjacent localities in the event of a nuke-strike at Northwood. Those who would seek to survive a nuclear war are very welcome to the results of such as I personally would rather be wiped out than to linger in fear of radiation effects, firestorms and the rest. With respect, might I suggest that anyone with an ounce of intelligence knows tooting well that the likelihood of an inter-continental nuclear war is out of the question, because there simply won’t be any winners of that sort of atrocity.

[September 14, 1984]

Sex centre row

It is business as usual at a controversial “school for sex” in Watford after a judge and two magistrates upheld an appeal against convictions for operating as a sex shop. But objectors to the sex centre in St Albans Road, Watford, say the battle for closure is not over yet. Cllr Keith Ashby, Chairman of Watford Borough Council’s Environmental Health and Licensing Committee, said: “It will be discussed with the borough’s legal advisors, and I am sure we will go to the highest court possible to get the shop closed.”

[September 21, 1984]

Welcome back, Paddington!

Paddington Bear is back – to kindness and cuddles from sales assistants Susan Whelan and Sarah Hudson. Heartless thieves made off with the charity box from its spot outside Wallspan in Queens Road, Watford, six weeks ago. Paddington was later spotted on a local dump and after a spell of police custody he is now undergoing surgery before being fit for service again.

[September 21, 1984]

Confident prediction

Graham Taylor, despite managing the only First Division Club without a win this season, made a confident prediction this week. “We will finish higher than we did last season,” said Taylor, conscious of the fans’ concern over their disappointing start to the campaign.

[September 21, 1984]

What was happening in the world in September 1984?

• Seven people are shot and killed and 12 wounded in the Milperra massacre, a shootout between rival motorcycle gangs, Bandidos and Comancheros, in Sydney, Australia (September 2)

• The Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends television series is first broadcast on ITV (September 4)

• Western Australia becomes the last Australian state to abolish capital punishment (September 5)

• The Space Shuttle Discovery lands after its maiden voyage (September 5)

• The film Amadeus premieres in Los Angeles (September 6)

• Geneticist Alec Jeffreys discovers DNA fingerprinting (September 10)

• Country singer Barbara Mandrell is badly injured in a car accident (September 12)

• The first MTV Video Music Awards take place; The Cars win with ‘You Might Think’ (September 14)

• Diana, Princess of Wales, gives birth to her second son, Prince Henry (September 16)

• Joe Kittenger becomes the first person to cross the Atlantic, solo, in a hot air balloon (September 18)

• Britain and China complete a proposed agreement to transfer Hong Kong to China by 1997 (September 19)

• A suicide car bomb outside the US Embassy in Beirut kills 23 (September 20)

• Murder She Wrote, starring Angela Landsbury, premieres on CBS (September 30)