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When we were born
Have you ever thought what life must have been like for our parents when we were born? I am thinking of the period 1946-1950.
Well let’s take a look. All the examples cover the whole of the country and not especially our area, but there are a few surprises to be found.
Also do not miss the great piece from Anida in the You Write Section.
In the last few years of this decade almost a quarter of British homes had no electricity and there were often more than three children in every family. People often lived in the same town or area all their lives near their families and sometimes the only time they left home was when they were called up for National Service.
One third of the British population went to the cinema at least once a week but with the advent of television even this started to decline as did attendances down at the ‘local’. There were only 14,500 television sets in the whole country and there was only one channel (BBC). Very homes had a television in fact in 1954 only 46% of homes had a set and in most cases it had been set up in what was always the holy of holies, the Parlour, but most families still listened to the wireless for their entertainment. This set was usually in the dining room or kitchen.
Many homes did not have a telephone or in many northern and Midland cases, an indoor toilet.
Cooking was done from scratch using produce grown locally. Our mothers could only buy items that were in season and most of what you bought was made or grown in the UK. Fridges were rare and in Wales only 8% of homes had one. Frozen food was just about getting going with Birds Eye Chicken pies and Fish Fingers. Rationing ended in 1954 when the last two items, meat and bacon came off the ration.
Cleaning was far harder then with only 18% of households having a washing machine. Most people washed their clothes by hand and hung their clothes out to dry on a line. In wet weather the clothes were hung in front of the fire making the whole house damp and steamy.
There were only just over a million cars on Britain's roads. Petrol rationing remained until 1954. For most people, this made the car an unaffordable luxury. Most people used public transport to get around. Air travel was mainly for the rich. To go abroad, most people travelled by ship.
The home was an important aspect of lifestyle. It's decoration and furniture revealed what type of person you were and how well off you appeared to be. There was no central heating. Houses were kept warm from the heat of the fire in the fireplace. Few houses had fitted carpets; most homes had wooden or stone floors.
In 1948, the average weekly wage was £3 18s, most people in Britain worked in manufacturing industries. Heavy industries like coal mining, iron and steel making, ship building and engineering employed millions of workers. Most of these workers were men as the majority of women stayed at home to look after their families and their homes.
Today, most people work in service industries such as education, health, shops, banks and insurance, where they provide services for other people. New technology means that factories use more machines to do the work and fewer people. Far more women work today, it now seems to be a necessity of modern life.
There were no supermarkets in the 1940s. To do your weekly food shopping you would have needed to visit several different shops, one for fruit, one for bread, one for meat and so on. Our mothers did not serve themselves in the shops, they stood or sat on a conveniently placed chair on one side of the counter and the shopkeeper would serve them. The first supermarket (a Co-op) was opened in Southsea in 1954 and the first Tesco opened in Essex in 1956.
The Education Act became law in 1944 and this gave every child a free education up until the age of 15 (raised to 16 in 1973). But what I do remember about my early days at school is that the classrooms were cold and the windows were high up so you couldn't look out. We all had our own desk with a lid. Lessons were formal and we learnt things by heart. There were very few textbooks so most things had to be copied off the blackboard. The teachers were strict and corporal punishment was common. Children were punished for being naughty or getting their work wrong by getting the cane or slipper, (this mainly applied to the boys)
One bright spot was Free Milk, since the thirties, the government paid for all children to receive free school milk. I am sure we can all remember the small glass third of a pint bottles and the drinking straws.
As kids we had very few, if any expensive toys and we spent a lot of time making up their own games and weren’t they fun?
But all this is coming on for 60 years ago!!!!!
Take Care and keep in touch
Great piece here from Anida:-
It’s in the genes!
Long before Tregarron Avenue and most of Old Manor Way were developed the land was utilised as allotments in the Government’s ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign in World War II. Both my Grandfathers had a plot here and produced vegetables for their families both of whom were living in Pangbourne Avenue at the bottom of Court Lane. The man who lived next door to my mother and her parents bred rabbits in his back garden, not for pets of course, but for their meat to supplement a very restricted wartime diet. He also had a lucrative side line in producing items made from the rabbit skins i.e. gloves, pram covers, so nothing was wasted.
Bizarrely my grandparents chose to leave their Cosham home and return to North End to live as my Grandmother didn’t like living ‘in the country’! They, of course, had to endure the nightly air raids and the immense difficulties encountered in the aftermath of each raid.
After the war, my Grandfather decided that I needed to have a regular supply of eggs so in a miniscule back garden he had several chickens which did the job very effectively!
My father then took up the allotment challenge and he obtained a plot next to the sewage works at the end of Court Lane. This might suggest that the productivity of these allotments were considerably higher than any others, I don’t remember this being so but they were extremely smelly at certain times! I used to trudge off with him, to dig my own plot and bring home the produce to my mother to be turned into good wholesome meals taken at lunch time every day.
Later my father had a further allotment at the rear of Roseberry Avenue, I wonder if they are still there or have been swept away by development?
And so I find myself very many years later enjoying the spring sunshine on a South facing slope overlooking a beautiful South Devon valley digging my own allotment. Despite the fact that allotmenteering is now very fashionable I have been ‘digging for victory’ for five years and can only but recommend it for fitness, companionship and of course healthy eating. Thinking about it though maybe it’s just in the genes!
News and Views:
Bobby Rydell underwent "major shoulder surgery" Wednesday (April 7). He slipped on hail after a concert in Oregon Saturday and fractured his shoulder in three places, requiring a plate and screws be installed. As a result, he had had to bow out of concerts April 8-11 with Lou Christie filling-in for him. Bobby is at home recovering. I am in contact with Bobby and will keep you updated as to how he is doing.
On this day 14th April 1960-1965
14/04/1960 the number one single was My Old Man's a Dustman - Lonnie Donegan and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Wagon Train (ITV) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 14/04/1961 the number one single was Wooden Heart - Elvis Presley and the number one album was GI Blues - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Labour Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 14/04/1962 the number one single was Wonderful Land - The Shadows and the number one album was Blue Hawaii - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was The Budget (All Channels) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 14/04/1963 the number one single was How Do You Do It? - Gerry & the Pacemakers and the number one album was Summer Holiday - Cliff Richard & the Shadows. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 14/04/1964 the number one single was Can't Buy Me Love - The Beatles and the number one album was With the Beatles - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was The Budget (All Channels) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Two footballers suspended over match fixing allegations.
On 14/04/1965 the number one single was Concrete & Clay - Unit 4 Plus 2 and the number one album was Rolling Stones Number 2 - The Rolling Stones. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.