A snapshot of life in September 1980

Crisis talks at Odhams

Odhams may soon be hit by massive redundancies which many workers fear could top the 700 mark. Management and unions are locked in crucial talks this week in a bid to stave off an autumn jobs disaster at the big North Watford printers. One union official admitted: “Some of us are not hopeful that a solution will be reached.” And an Odhams spokesman said that unless the negotiations were successful and more work came in quickly, “substantial” redundancies would follow. There is a lack of orders and the Sunday Telegraph colour magazine will no longer be printed at Odhams after next month. Sun Printers, Odhams’ biggest rival, will soon take on more workers now that the TV Times contract has gone to the Whippendell Road works, which also produces the Sunday Times colour magazine.

[September 5, 1980]

Hornets’ new test after night of glory

Watford Football Club came back down to earth with a bump yesterday after their brilliant, history-making 7-1 defeat of joint First Division leaders Southampton at Vicarage Road. The League Cup third-round draw sees them travel to Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday, September 23. While a 50,000 capacity at Hillsborough means Watford fans will have no problems obtaining tickets, memories of incidents are Sheffield two years ago have prompted Watford to ask for a separate stand and terrace enclosure for their fans. Watford virtually clinched a place in the Second Division with a win at Sheffield 20 months ago, but because of hooliganism at the ground many Hornets followers vowed never to return.

[September 5, 1980]

Millions in the bag for exporters

Millions of pounds in hard-worn contracts are coming into Watford from home and abroad – with the promise of much more ahead. These business victories mean extra jobs for the town, and triumphant bosses are still recruiting. Good News Week began with the announcement by Automatic Revenue Controls, North Watford, of a £3million order from Thailand. ARC clinched the deal for traffic control systems against fierce competition from bigger British, Japanese, Dutch and French companies. ARC’s success has provided 20 more jobs immediately. Rolls-Royce at Leavesden hope to sign a £10million helicopter engine contract if, as seems likely, British Airways orders Westland’s new WG 30 machine. Scammell Motors have plans for a multi-thousand pound extension to the factory in Tolpits Lane, Watford.

[September 12, 1980]

Playbus makes its debut

North Watford Gala Day on Saturday provided members of the public with their first opportunity to see the town’s new playbus. It should have been on display at Watford Show two weeks earlier but “broke down” in Water Lane near the end of its journey from Southport where it has been undergoing conversion, and had to be towed to the borough’s Wiggenhall depot. The chairman of the Playbus Appeal Committee, the Rev. Dick Lewis, said there was still more work to be done on the bus but they wanted people to know it was now in the town. Interviews have been taking place for the post of playbus leader and it is expected the first operation will be in the nature of a publicity tour.

[September 19, 1980]

Stage set for theatre sponsors

It is hoped to sign up the sponsors of Watford Palace Theatre’s £100,000 appeal by next month. General manager Chris Barron said that the theatre, which is in need of structural repairs to meet licensing laws, had received several offers of help since the appeal was announced last week. The Palace wants ten firms or individuals to sponsor the initial £5,000 cost of the appeal. Then the fundraising will begin in earnest. A plan to sell seats in the auditorium for £100 each has already brought a response. Plans for renovating and redecorating the Edwardian building were outlined by artistic director Michael Attenborough last week. He said: “I cannot emphasise too much that the theatre has reached a crisis. For the theatre to continue the building must be brought into line with licensing requirements. If it isn’t, it will be closed.”

[September 19, 1980]

Blue alert for Chelsea

Thousands of visiting soccer supporters will find a heavy police guard in Watford tomorrow (Saturday). Extra officers will be drafted in from all over Hertfordshire for the Hornets’ Division 2 clash with Chelsea. It will be Hertfordshire’s biggest police operation of the season. A year ago this month West Ham supporters got out of control and left a mass of destruction in their wake. Chief Superintendent Michael Webber said Watford fans have behaved well recently and hoped they would not react to the Chelsea supporters. Some public houses will be closed tomorrow and others will have stewards on the door to check customers. The police are asking shopkeepers to take their boards and hoardings inside in case they are used as missiles.

[September 26, 1980]

What was happening in the world in September 1980?

• Terry Fox is forced to end his Marathon of Hope run outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario, after finding out that his cancer had spread to his lungs (September 1)

• Zimbabwe breaks diplomatic relations with South Africa (September 3)

• The Gotthard Road Tunnel opens in Switzerland as the world’s longest highway tunnel at 16.3km (September 5)

• The Marlborough diamond is stolen in London (September 11)

• After weeks of strikes at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk, Poland, the nationwide independent trade union Solidarity is established (September 17)

• The debut solo album by Ozzy Osbourne, Blizzard of Ozz, is released in the UK (September 20)

• The command council of Iraq orders its army to ‘deliver its fatal blow on Iranian military targets’, initiating the Iran-Iraq War (September 22)

• 13 people are killed and 211 injured in a right-wing terror attack in Munich (September 26)