The Way We Were - A 1960s Childhood

Were you lucky enough to enjoy a 1960s childhood? It was a time of great optimism, from the arrival of the Beatles to the moon landing, there was always something new happening. The future was sunny and everything seemed on the cusp of change.  

Charlie Fleischer once said,

If you remember the '60s, you really weren't there!

Here's a cheat list of items that might jog your memory growing up in Britain in the 1960s, which ones do you remember like they were yesterday?


Lady Bird books with Peter and Jane Books

Published by Ladybird, most primary school children learned to read using the Peter and Jane series of books.

The stories of lovely day trips in the motor car, helping to pick apples in the orchard or riding ponies on sunny days made life seem idyllic in Peter and Jane's world and let's not forget Pat the dog.

Bathrooms and Other Mod Cons

 In the real world, things were not always as idyllic. For some, the '60s brought indoor toilets, bathrooms and hot water, but for many, going to the toilet still meant a trip outside in all weathers toilet paper or ripped up newspaper in hand and having a bath meant sitting in front of the fire in a tin bath filled up with water boiled on the stove.

Or, for a treat, a hot bath could be had at the local public swimming baths.

Some homes now had a twin tub washing machine and a vacuum cleaner, but others still washed everything by hand and made do with a carpet sweeper.

Getting the washing dried generally meant having clothes hanging in front of the fire on rainy days, and with the coal fire providing the only heat in most homes, frost was a common feature on the inside of windows during the winter and much fun was had drawing shapes in it.

Who remembers getting out from under heavy bed blankets (no duvets) in the morning and getting dressed for school with teeth chattering?

Music, Movement and Mime

 Many schools had central heating in the '60s, making them warmer than most homes, but a daily exercise in the form of regimented PE lessons or vigorous playground games made sure no one felt the cold.

A popular physical activity in primary schools was 'Music, Movement and Mime' a radio (or wireless) broadcast provided by The School Broadcasting Council.

A voice on the radio gave instructions such as,

Now children, begin as a seed and grow‚ grow into a tall tree‚ and now sway like trees in the wind.

All boys and girls in school halls all around the country would crouch, leap and sway with arms in the air as they followed the instructions in their own style of interpretive dance often in bare feet and wearing nothing more than their vest and knickers.

Corporal Punishment

  Misbehaving at school in the 1960s could result in being caned or belted, depending on which part of the country you were in. Other forms of punishment included a rap on the knuckles with a ruler, being spanked across the backside, or slapped on the arms or legs.

A 1960s childhood www.springchicken classroom

Corporal punishment was commonplace in schools and the debate over whether it should have been banned rumbles on.

Were you ever on the receiving end?
Another random memory of school days in the '60s is routinely putting your seat up onto your desk at the end of the day. Such discipline without question, how times have changed!

The Big Freeze

The winter of 1962 into 1963 brought a great deal of hardship to many people in Britain, but, for most children, the months of snow and ice brought great joy.

Many schools were closed for lengthy periods as roads became blocked with snow and power lines came down with the sheer weight of ice, but having no power and no means of stocking up dwindling food supplies was of no concern to children who were enjoying endless days of slides that never thawed!

Toys and Transistor Radios

 What toys did you dream of owning in the '60s: Etch-a-Sketch, Sindy, Mr Potato Head, Kerplunk, Mousetrap, Action Man?

For many teenagers, the dream was to own a reel-to-reel tape recorder so that the Top 20 radio show could be recorded every Sunday evening, or the latest hits being played into the night on Radio Luxembourg. Rock and Roll was here to stay, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles took the music world by storm in the 1960s but what music did you love?

Beanz Meanz Heinz

Heinz launched their Beanz Meanz Heinz TV advertising campaign in 1967 and there's every chance you had beans for tea more than once as a child in the '60s  maybe on some toasted slices of Wonderloaf.

But, for children, the sweets available at the school tuck shop were of far greater interest.

What did you spend your pocket money on? If you were lucky enough to get pocket money of course.

TV Favourites


Colour TV didn't come along until the late '60s, but what TV shows did you love to watch: Thunderbirds; Magpie; Mary, Mungo and Midge; Doctor Who; Playschool; Do Not Adjust Your Set; Casey Jones (steamin' and a-rollin'), or how about Lassie, Flipper or Skippy the Bush Kangaroo?


If you can remember the '60s....

If you remember any of the above, you were there. What are your lasting memories of growing up in Britain in the 1960s? Let us know in the comments section below, we'd love to hear your memories.

Header image Newcastle Libraries Public Domain Mark 1.0

Tin bath boy by SimpleInsomnia (CC BY 2.0)

Classroom Photo by Belinda Fewings on Unsplash

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Suzanne M Lawton

I left school in 1963 and went to work in a sewing factory, we made clothes for Marks and Spencer who were very strict on how they were made and the quality had to be very high.
There was always plenty of entertainment at weekends with all the big groups playing in the local towns, life was good.


In 1965, I turned 9 years old and was allowed to go out on my own to ‘call for’ my friend, who lived a mile away. We went to the ‘wreckery-Asian’ ground, where we played on roundabouts and swings that creaked eerily when daylight was fading. I fell backwards off a swing and had yellow spots before the eyes. A trip to the local hospital put everyone’s mind at ease. In 1969 I had a thriving business in making and selling bicycles with frames and wheels from the rubbish tip. Watch out for the rat poison. Some of the profit was ploughed back into the business to pay for aerosol paints and shiny mudguards. I was taken to the same hospital because I had punctured an aerosol of bright green paint. Some of it went into my eye. I did feel such a fool, though! I learnt the hard way, but an aerosol thrown onto the bonfire near a car dump does not yield as spectacular a display as a sealed, empty petrol can. Pyrotechnicians Anonymous, we were that Saturday afternoon.

Gill Mouat

Out playing for hours on end only coming home for dinner. Witches hat roundabouts and very tall slides in playgrounds. Penny for the guy and fireworks at home including jumping jacks chasing after you on the streets and Catherine wheels. Crisp packets with little blue twisted bags of salt inside.

Michael Kershaw

we had the best times 60s 70s proper folk we went to work for what we got no cap in hand for us pried comes to mind

William lamb

Such memories, very little money but loved the sixties, The house wasn’t wired for electricity so we had only gas lighting & gas lit street lighting, So atmospheric when it was foggy as was quite often the case through late autumn & winter due to just about everyone having coal fires at that time or the alternative was a paraffin heater to keep warm by.
Single glazed windows with such bad fitting frames that the draughts would move the curtains, we only had radio entertainment & listened to serials like “The Archers” & “Journey Into Space” or “The Clitheroe Kid”.
Jacket potatoes baked in the ash under the fire or toast from a handmade toasting fork, I could go on & on, these memories memories make me feel so appreciative for what we had then & so scepticle for what we have now.

Ian Farr

I remember all those things had a few canings from headmaster, had the blackboard duster thrown at me and the edge of the ruler over the knuckles.
Also watched all those programmes. Watched Law, Charlton and Best play at old Trafford stood in the Stretford end. Great days!

June Shrimpton

I remember the winter 1962/63 We had lots of fun in the snow. I always remember my Mum toasting crumpets on the fire when we got back indoors. The patterns we used to draw on the ice that used to form on the inside of the bedroom windows. It was all good fun,

christine windle

Loved every minute of the 60s. Icycles on Windows.Making a coal fire with newspaper .roller skates ,skipping .Mary quant .Flower power ,mini skirts, bubble cars. I could go on and on and on . Endless

David Tipping

Remember all of that plus more Saturday morning pictures ,the year the smog enveloped London,and the South East,

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