A snapshot of life in April 1992

New site put up for leisuredome

Gade House in The Parade, Watford, is being earmarked for a massive cinema, 10 pin bowling and ice-skating complex by opponents of the Woodside leisuredome scheme. The Co-Op store closed its doors to the public last month, after more than 30 years’ trading, leaving the huge three-storey building, complete with basement, empty. Now there is talk that a large leisure complex in The Parade could bring life back to the town centre and save the dying trade in the area. Chairman of the North Orbital Residents’ Action Group, Mr Ed Martin, has written to the Department of the Environment asking for Gade House to be considered as an alternative to the site in Sheepcot Lane, Garston.

[April 3, 1992]

Tesco promotes computers

Local schools have been invited to take part in a promotion by Tesco, called Computers for Schools. The promotion gives schools the opportunity to obtain top of the range Acorn computer systems, educational software programmes and printers in return for vouchers at Tesco stores. For every £25 spent in a Tesco store customers will receive a ‘computer voucher’. Schools can collect these and redeem their collection for free Acorn computer equipment.

[April 3, 1992]

Error bans hundreds from voting

Hundreds of voters were left fuming yesterday after being denied their right to vote in the General Election. They swamped the switchboard at Three Rivers District Council with furious complaints that their suffrage had been severed through no fault of their own. Liberal Democrat councillor and party agent Richard Struck said people were distraught after finding they could not vote, despite having filled in their electoral registration forms. He claimed to have proof the council was to blame, saying it was clear clerical errors had been made. The council’s failure to cross check that all the names it received ended up on the register had resulted in some people losing their right to vote, he said.

[April 10, 1992]

Demolition regrettable

Regular travellers along the A41 near the Aldenham roundabout will have noticed the very regrettable demolition of the Lin Pac factory on the Hartspring Industrial Estate. This building dated from 1938, when it was built for the Cox’s furniture company and represented a rare and classic example of art deco architecture. Its clock tower superbly characterised the style – reminiscent of the Hoover Factory in west London. Together with the recent architectural degradation of the old Odhams factory a mile or so up the road, one wonders what hope there is for preserving architectural heritage amid current economic pressure.

[April 10, 1992]

Cash sought for rail link scheme

A confidential report by London Underground on the Croxley Rail Link proposes “acquiring” land from Sun Engravers, in Ascot Road, Watford, for a ticket hall. It is suggested that Croxley Green British Rail and Watford Metropolitan Line stations are abandoned and replaced by a new station in Ascot Road. After carrying out an engineering feasibility study and an environmental impact study, London Underground has earmarked its preferred route on financial and engineering grounds. The proposed alignment joins the Metropolitan Line at the rear of Dorrofield Close, Croxley Green, and runs to the south of the Two Bridges roundabout before joining up with British Rail’s Croxley Green to Watford Junction line.

[April 17, 1992]

BT to close exchange

British Telecom has announced it is closing all its London-based centres – including the Watford exchange. More than 130 people working at the centre in Exchange Road will be affected by BT’s decision to close by the end of 1994. All operator services will be transferred to other exchanges outside London. The cost-cutting measures are being implemented partly because of the decrease in the use of operator and director inquiry services.

[April 24, 1992]

Easter egg hunt

Deserted by canal people and townfolk for decades, life flowed back to Batchworth Lock in Rickmansworth on Monday. More than 100 people gathered at the lock for an Easter egg hunt, the first big family event since refurbishment began in the area two years ago. Throughout the last century and up until the 1950s, Batchworth Lock was the Grand Union Canal’s first major staging post outside London. Crowded with narrow boats, it was also the location for a notorious public house and a busy canal shop. But when canal traffic trickled away, it lay in a semi-derelict state until Brodie and Sons started redeveloping the old boat inn and stable block for offices in 1989. The mooring of the old Ovaltine boat Albert at the lock, and the opening of the Batchworth Lock canal centre, have added to the atmosphere that was enjoyed by families on Monday.

[April 24, 1992]

What was happening in the world in April 1992?

• Approximately 500,000 people march on Washington DC in support of abortion rights (April 5)

• The UK general election is narrowly won by the Conservative Party led by Prime Minister John Major (April 9)

• Three are killed when a Provisional IRA bomb explodes in the Baltic Exchange in London (April 10)

• President of Afghanistan Mohammad Najibullah is ousted and detained by Muslim rebels, setting the stage for the civil war in Afghanistan (April 16)

• The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, held at Wembley Stadium, is televised live to over one billion people (April 20)

• Betty Boothroyd becomes the first woman elected Speaker of the British House of Commons (April 27)

• The two remaining constituent republics of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia – Serbia and Montenegro – form a new state, named the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (which in 2003 became Serbia and Montenegro) (April 28)

• The acquittal of four police officers in the Rodney King beating criminal trial triggers massive rioting in Los Angeles. The riots last for six days and result in 53 deaths (April 29)