Charlie Fleischer once said, “If you remember the ’60s, you really weren’t there,” but here’s a random list of items that might jog your memory of growing up in Britain in the 1960s… which ones do you remember like they were yesterday?
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 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…” and 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.
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. 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 schooldays 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. 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.
Feast your eyes on this selection and see which ones you remember:
Flying saucers; coconut mushrooms, Parma violets, fizzers, drumstick lollies; sherbet fountain; sweet tobacco; traffic light lollies; candy whistles, or maybe a pack of Rowntree’s fruit gums at the price of 3d. A bar of Fry’s Chocolate Crème would set you back 6d, or were you more of a penny chew chooser – what did you spend your pocket money on?
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?
Header image credited Picture Post. August 7, 1954