A snapshot of life in March 1979

Conbat plan a ‘human wall’

Volunteers will form a human barrier in front of diggers and trucks in a last-ditch effort to stop a concrete plant being built in North Watford. And they were also urged to tackle Environment Secretary Mr Peter Shore, who gave the green light for the controversial plant, and “embarrass him politically and personally”. The call came at a packed meeting of Conbat, the protest group set up to fight Pioneer Concrete’s plans for a batching plant in Cow Lane. At least 20 people rallied to chairman Mr Dennis McGrath when he asked: “Are you prepared to take action?”

[March 2, 1979]

Ferret society

If sufficient interest is shown in the Watford area, there could soon be a local branch set of the Ferret and Ferreting Society. Accompanied by four ferrets, Mr Michael Boxall was in Watford recently to invite those who might like to join to attend a meeting at the rear of the Adam and Eve public house, Hayes, on March 18.

[March 2, 1979]

Crash of famous aircraft

The light aircraft in which Sheila Scott made the first female solo flight around the world crashed in the playing fields at Haberdashers’ Aske’s School, Elstree, on Tuesday morning. Three men were travelling in the Pipe Comanche 260B plane (called Myth Too) at the time, but none of them were hurt in the accident. The men had just taken off from Elstree Aerodrome on a flight to the Isle of Man when they discovered a fault in the oil pressure. They headed back towards Elstree but did not quite make it to the runway, and had to make an emergency landing in the playing fields.

[March 9, 1979]

Elvis lives

Hundreds of Elvis Presley fans from all over the country will come to Watford in August to pay homage to their hero. A disco evening has been arranged at Watford Town Hall to mark the second anniversary of the singer’s death. The whole extravaganza looks set to be a great success. But the town’s churches, who have been approached to hold a memorial service for Elvis, are not so keen. All those asked so far have said no.

[March 9, 1979]

Watford is boom town

Watford is one of the “boomingest” towns in the country. A business survey soon to be published shows that companies in and around the town forecast a staggering increase in business for the next three months of more than 63 per cent. That’s almost a 25 per cent leap over January, February and March. The survey is carried out by Manpower, the international work contractor which has an office in Watford. “There is no doubt about it, Watford is streets ahead of most other places in Britain,” said director Nigel Richards.

[March 23, 1979]

Phase 5 is coming

It is going to take a whole new way of thinking and a great deal of patience for motorists and pedestrians to cope with the roadworks involved in phase 5 of Watford’s ring road, which is now under way and planned to open next spring. So an exhibition at Central Primary School on April 5 aims to give us an idea of what we’re all in for. Far reaching changes are involved. For instance, Queen’s Road from Sainsbury’s to the one way system, and for a short distance the other side, becomes a pedestrian precinct. Before this happens, two main sewers will be laid along its length, and a central channel installed to dispose of surface rainwater. A new three-lane road, part of the ring road, will form a partially elevated roadway, which will be supported by retaining walls.

[March 30, 1979]

Ovaltine herd sold

One of the finest Jersey herds in the country – at the Ovaltine Farm, Abbots Langley – was auctioned on Thursday for £28,500. Farmers were attracted from many parts of the country to bid for the 143 animals including two pedigree stock bulls. Ovaltine blame the EEC’s Common Agricultural Policy for the fact that dairy farming with a Jersey herd is no longer a practical proposition for them and plan to turn their 450-acre farm over to crops.

[March 30, 1979]

What was happening in the world in March 1979?

• The US Voyager 1 spaceprobe photos reveal Jupiter’s rings (March 4)

• Philips demonstrates the compact disc publicly for the first time (March 8)

• The Penmanshiel Tunnel in the UK collapses, killing two workers (March 17)

• The first fully functional Space Shuttle orbiter, Columbia, is delivered to the Kennedy Space Center to be prepared for its first launch (March 25)

• In a ceremony at the White House, President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel sign an Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty (March 26)

• In Britain, James Callaghan’s minority Labour government loses a motion of confidence by one vote, forcing a general election (March 28)

• America’s most serious nuclear power plant accident occurs at Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania (March 28)

• Airey Neave, Conservative Northern Ireland spokesman, is killed, presumably by an Irish National Liberation Army bomb in the British House of Commons car park (March 30)

• The last British solider leaves the Maltese islands, after 179 years of presence. Malta declares its Freedom Day (March 31)

• Milk and Honey win the Eurovision Song Contest for Israel, with the song Hallelujah (March 31)