Concerns about the redevelopment of a historic pub and new flats alongside Victorian housing, a wonderful honour for a Paralympic legend and well wishers bidding farewell to a long-seving canon were among the stories making the headlines in the Watford Observer five and ten years ago this week.


One Bell transformation 'wrecking the town square'

The proposed expansion and redevelopment of an historic pub is tantamount to the destruction of the town square, according to one campaigner.

John Dowdle, part of the Save Watford’s Town Centre group, described the plans to turn The One Bell into flats and a restaurant as “cultural vandalism”.

“This proposed extension will wreck the existing town square – Watford’s last viable open space along the high street,” he said.

Watford Observer: The One BellThe One Bell

“And this existing building – Watford’s longest continuously licenced premises since 1851 – and the town square are being subjected to this act of cultural vandalism.

“We must all do whatever we can to save Watford’s sole remaining open space and remaining town square.”

Watford Observer: Cllr Peter Taylor, right, was handed a petition opposing plans to redevelop Oxhey VillageCllr Peter Taylor, right, was handed a petition opposing plans to redevelop Oxhey Village

'The future of the village is in doubt': Neighbours gather to oppose new homes beside family homes

Neighbours gathered to oppose “inappropriate” plans to build new houses beside picturesque family homes.

Cllr Peter Taylor, who represents the Oxhey Ward, was handed a petition signed by 551 people in Lower Paddock Road, Oxhey Village.

He will hand over the petition to Watford Borough Council when the proposals will be considered at the development management committee on Wednesday, September 6.

Members of the Oxhey Village Environment Group (OVEG) are concerned that building “modern-looking” flats alongside Victorian homes with long back gardens will be “out of character” with the village’s conservation area.

Watford Observer: Children celebrate the opening of the poolsChildren celebrate the opening of the pools

Families dismayed after Cassiobury Park paddling pools close on sweltering Bank Holiday

Families were left sweating in the summer sun after yet more problems at the Cassiobury Park Paddling Pools.

On the hottest August Bank Holiday Monday since records began, hundreds of eager paddlers turned up at the new £2.3 million pools and hub building for the official opening time of 10am, only to find the splash park taped off.

After waiting for nearly an hour, many decided to leave, with staff reportedly telling visitors there were problems with the water pumps.

However the pools did in fact open again later that day, much to the dismay of people who had queued only to be told they would not be able to get in.


Former Paralympian's opening ceremony honour

A Paralympics legend from Watford lit the flame in the London games' opening ceremony last night in front of a "sea of people".

Margaret Maughan, of Oxhey Road, was Great Britain's first ever gold medallist at the games, and went on to win another four, and two silvers - more than Steve Redgrave's Olympic total.

She lit one of the petals of the cauldron, designed by Thomas Heatherwick, signifying the start of the London Paralympic Games.

Watford Observer: Margaret Maughan lit the Paralympic flameMargaret Maughan lit the Paralympic flame

The 84-year-old said: "One day the telephone rang and when I answered, it was Seb Coe. I told him I was honoured to speak to him and he said he'd be delighted if I could be part of the show.

"I did a rehearsal the day before and then I was in the show, with two lovely chaps, one who was injured in Afghanistan and the other was David Clarke, captain of the football team.

"I had to have someone push me because I couldn't hold the torch and control my wheelchair at the same time. It was just a sea of people all around, it was very emotional and impressive.

"I had an earpiece in and they told me to light the cauldron. It was beautiful and very warm when lit."

Watford Observer: The BBC3 comedy Bad EducationThe BBC3 comedy Bad Education

Watford Observer in BBC comedy Bad Education

Eagle-eyed viewers of BBC3 comedy Bad Education may have spotted a familiar newspaper titlepiece in this week’s episode.

A mock up of a Watford Observer front page featured in the show with an article decrying an unsuccessful weapons amnesty at the fictional Abbey Grove School set in Hertfordshire.

In the episode, history teacher Alfie Wickers, played by Jack Whitehall, organises a weapons amnesty for pupils at the school, only to see it descend into violence as actors playing a Watford Observer journalist and photographer arrive.

In the next scene a picture of the chaos appears under a headline reading “Weapons amnesty travesty” on the front page dated Friday, October 26th, 2012.

Watford Observer:

Church-goers say goodbye to canon

Hundreds of well wishers flocked to Christ Church and St Marks in North Watford to bid farewell at a final goodbye service dedicated to long-standing canon Dick Lewis.

Reverend Lewis, who served in Watford for 36 years, held his last two Holy Communion services in the morning before enjoying a ‘poignant’ service, which brought together his favourite hymns and readings.

Despite retiring, Reverend Lewis will soon take up post of chaplain at Trinity Hospital in Retford, Nottinghamshire.