The 1950s was the decade of the Queen’s Coronation and the Festival of Britain; of family shops and pea-souper smogs; listening to the wireless and watching the box; when money was counted in pounds, shillings and pence and weights were in pounds and ounces. It was when children walked to school and ‘six of the best’ was a painful experience; postmen wore uniforms with peaked hats and chimney sweeps rode bikes with their brushes and poles balanced on their shoulders; milk and bread were delivered to your doorstep every morning and orange juice was free for schoolchildren; and when most people still preferred smooth shiny toilet paper to the new absorbent type. The Second World War left Britain in a period of austerity. Yet, born of the relief of the war ending in 1945, there was a spirit of hope for the future and new beginnings, from which grew a climate that was a comforting mix of the traditional past blended with exciting glimpses of an exhilarating future.
John Wade records briefly some of the great achievements and events of the 1950s, but concentrates more on what it was like for ordinary British people living their lives during a far from ordinary decade.