South Oxhey pub demolition approved; death of Watford physio among archive stories

Plans to demolish a South Oxhey pub, the death of a key member of Graham Taylor’s backroom team at Vicarage Road and proposals to drop speed limits to 20mph across Watford were among the stories making the headlines in the Watford Observer five and ten years ago this week.

‘A drastic loss’: Pub to be demolished to make way for 33 flats

A pub in South Oxhey will be demolished to make way for 33 flats.

Three Rivers district councillors approved plans for the demolition of The Grapevine pub, in Prestwick Road, at a planning meeting.

A three-storey block will be built, containing 20 two-bedroom and nine one-bedroom flats, and a two-storey block will hold four two-bedroom apartments.

Watford Observer:

The plans, submitted by Watford Community Housing Trust, include 15 affordable homes – 10 apartments will be socially rented and five will be shared ownership.

The decision will upset members of Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) who objected the plans.

In the planning portal online, a member said: “One of CAMRA’s key campaigns is protecting pubs from closure.

“CAMRA believes well-run pubs are important community assets that are increasingly vulnerable to development. 

“The Ox public house is under threat from the South Oxhey Initiative. If the Grapevine and the Ox are both lost to development that would leave the Dick Whittington as the only pub on the estate, so three out of four pubs in South Oxhey will have closed in the space of 10 years.

“This is a drastic loss of leisure facilities and contravenes the council’s policy aim to protect community, leisure and cultural facilities.”

Watford Observer:

Billy Hails with Graham Taylor after joining Watford in 1979

Former Watford physio Hails passes away

Tributes have been paid to Billy Hails after the former Watford physio passed away at the age of 82.

Hails joined Watford in 1979 and was part of the Hornets backroom staff during their hugely successful period under Graham Taylor in the 1980s.

A winger during his playing career, Hails made a name for himself with Peterborough United where he made 318 appearances and also managed the club for a brief spell.

His 114 goals, 28 of which came in 94 Football League outings, makes him Posh’s seventh highest scorer of all time.

Watford Observer:

An outer wall had to be removed so the magnet could be installed

4.5 tonne magnet craned into hospital for new MRI scanner

It took 20 people a full day to move a giant magnet into position at Watford General Hospital ahead of the installation of a brand new state-of-the-art MRI scanner.

An exterior wall had to be removed so the 4.5 tonne component could be lifted by crane into the second floor of the hospital.

A new CT scanner also arrived, with 15 people working to guide the awkward piece of machinery through the front entrance of the main building and into position.

Both the MRI and CT scanners are now in position awaiting the last few pieces of equipment required to complete their installation.

Once walls have been built around the scanners to create a new cardiac imaging suite, the equipment fitting and testing process can begin.


Watford Observer:

Melanie de Miguel felt ‘utter shock horror’ at tree felling

Shock and anger over felled trees

Residents in Carpenders Park have been left angry and looking for answers after scores of trees were chopped down near a railway line.

Some homeowners on St George’s Drive received letters on Friday evening telling them to remove any items from Sandpit Wood within seven days or face court action.

Then on Saturday workmen moved in on the thicket, felling scores of trees.

One resident, Melanie de Miguel, said she felt “utter shock horror” at the sudden loss of the trees that have been a fixture of the area for as long as people can remember.

The 52-year-old part time science teacher said: “The trees were beloved, dearly, dearly loved and full of wildlife.

“It’s horrifying, these trees prevented a wonderful sound barrier for the residents from the railway.”

Watford Observer:

Molly Fletcher used to swim in lake as a child

Triathletes face Aquadrome swimming ban

Outdoor swimmers and triathletes have been told they are not allowed to swim in a Rickmansworth lake because of dangerous swans, algae, and the risk of drowning.

The sport of “wild swimming” takes place outdoors in lakes and rivers, such as those found all over the Three Rivers area.

However, the district council has banned anyone from swimming in the Aquadrome, because it believes it is unsafe.

Molly Fletcher from the Outdoor Swimming Society learned to swim in the lake when she was a child.

She said: “People used to swim in the lake all the time and it was a wonderful family activity. In the 1970s a sailor drowned and after that ‘no swimming’ signs went up and that was the end of that.

“I looked on Google and there are 25 lakes in the River Colne valley. Four of them are for sailing, there are fishing lakes, birdwatching spots, but nothing for outdoor swimmers.

“Three Rivers District Council just keeps saying no to allowing swimming or triathlons.”

Watford Observer:

Campaign for 20mph Watford backed by politicians

A campaign to drop speed limits across Watford to 20mph has found unanimous backing among the borough’s politicians.

At meeting of the full council, councillors lent full-throated support to the 20’s Plenty campaign and voted to take up the case with county highways bosses.

The Liberal Democrats and Green Party councillors jointly sponsored a motion saying the council will now push for the speed limit to be cut to 20mph in all “non-major” residential roads in the town.

The motion argued the move would bring a host of benefits to the town such as reducing accidents, encouraging walking and reducing emissions.

It also said that reducing the average speed from 30mph to 20mph would only increase a 15-minute journey through affected roads by one minute.

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