Libraries

I have loved books and reading for as long as I can remember. I was thinking about libraries the other day and I realised that I use libraries less now than ever before in my life. The reasons are the same as they are for everybody else –

I can now look things up myself on my phone, ipad and laptop using the mighty Google.

I can now buy second-hand books in charity shops for as little as 50 pence and also very cheaply online and often postage free.

New books, too, are extremely affordable when bought in supermarkets or online.

I can also buy e-books and read them on any of my electronic devices. (I don’t, because I still prefer books, but I could.)

It’s no wonder that libraries and independent bookshops are closing in Britain.

All through my childhood, teens, twenties and thirties, being a member of a library was very important to me. Wherever I lived, I joined a library, sometimes being a member of more than one at a time.

As a child in the 1950s, we went to the library whenever we were in the nearby town which was five miles away. Below is a picture of the building it was in – taken a bit before the 1950s! When I lived in that area the building housed the library , the Labour Exchange and my dad’s office – he worked for the Forestry Commission. Although there was no library in our village (it was tiny) there was a lady who lived in a little house next to a chapel who ran a small book lending system from her front room. The main library used to drop new books off with her every so often.

llandovery-clock-tower

What I remember about libraries in the old days (even though I loved them) is how quiet and serious they were. You absolutely did not make a noise of any sort or you would be told off. I loved them because I love books and reading but I can see how someone less committed to reading could have been put off by the interior of a library.

Library 1  Library 2

Above – the interiors of a couple of old libraries. The pictures can’t convey the deathly hush which prevailed!

library files      library book

The pre-digital way of book-lending.

I have no recollection of ever being asked to do any independent research for homework when I was in school – not even when studying for A-levels. Lessons were all based on notes dictated by the teacher then and on learning by rote – but that’s another blog post! While I was at university I preferred to do most of my work in the university library. This was partly so that I could use the reference books but also because the atmosphere was more conducive to study than a cold, gloomy student rented house.

Libraries now often have art or history exhibitions running, they have computers the public can use, they are bright, friendly and welcoming. The children’s sections have toys and games and regular organised activities. Yet libraries are still closing all over the country. Where they have been saved and continue to function, they are often rehoused in a smaller space in a new building. The one shown below is a Victorian library building near where I used to work. In spite of a well-fought campaign to keep it open, it was closed over ten years ago. I believe it now houses offices so at least it isn’t empty or worse – demolished. The new library which replaced it is in a modern purpose built community centre. Public lending libraries began here in Britain in the 1850s, the main pioneer being William Ewart. Since 2010, nearly 500 libraries  have closed in England, Wales and Scotland. Some libraries facing closure have been taken over by volunteers.

normy library

Finally, a nice little tale of recycling!

The iconic red telephone boxes found all over the UK are beginning to disappear but, thanks to a BT scheme called Adopt a Kiosk, many unused payphone kiosks have been transformed into libraries. This preserves the heritage of the red kiosk, particularly in rural locations and provides a library service in areas which lack one. Most of these libraries are left unlocked and are stocked by donations from local people. Anyone is free to borrow a book and donate a used book.

220px-Phone_box_library,_Whitwell,_IW,_UK    517d1d84e2bd9ff5150f1d852f0822bb--telephone-booth-free-library telephone-library-1

reading and And now, a few quotes about libraries:

Reading is an exercise in empathy; an exercise in walking in someone else’s shoes for a while. —Malorie Blackman

Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation. —Walter Cronkite

Libraries will get you through times with no money better than money will get you through times with no libraries. Anne Herbert.

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. —Joseph Addison

As usual, I would like to say that all images and facts used in this post have been gleaned from the Internet and are readily available. However, if anyone objects to anything in this post, for any reason, please contact me directly so that I can remove it.

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Mental Health

This post looks, from the title, as though it could be a bit more weighty and serious than many of my others. I hope it won’t turn out that way. What I’m going to look at is the difference in attitude and outlook where mental health is concerned between the 1950s and now. I have to bear in mind that I was a small child in the 50s and so what I remember is a child’s view and might be different from an adult’s. However, the point of this blog is to share my memories of growing up in the Welsh countryside in the 1950s and 60s and I like to stay true to that and avoid putting in all sorts of researched facts and figures and quoting other people’s opinions.

It is a fact that mental health is now discussed more openly than it used to be. I have seen that change in my lifetime. There has been a big push here in Britain recently to bring mental health issues out into the open. There have been famous people telling their stories, mental health awareness events and various films and documentaries. This is excellent – but we still have a long way to go. People still find it much easier to say they’re suffering from arthritis, bronchitis, migraine or flu than to admit to going through a spell of depression or to talk about a lifelong battle with anxiety.

Back in the 1950s, these were some of the expressions you would hear adults using quietly when they thought you weren’t listening. ‘Had a nervous breakdown’, ‘bad with her nerves’,  ‘suffers with her nerves’. We all know now that that mental illness can affect any age, any gender, but at that time I only ever remember hearing women talked about in those hushed tones. Sometimes a person was described as being ‘not right in the head’. Occasionally you would hear about someone who had ‘taken to her bed’. Apparently my grandmother had an aunt who ‘took to her bed’ at some point in her life and never left it.

What we did know about was the large mental hospitals where people ‘ended up’ if they were really bad with their nerves or had a breakdown. Some people with very severe mental disabilities spent their whole lives in them. Fortunately, these places don’t exist any more. Originally they were called ‘lunatic asylums’. This was often shortened to ‘loony bin’. It seems appalling now that we could use such expressions.

st david's

The mental hospital which was nearest to us when we lived in South Wales, called St David’s. It was operational from 1865 until 2002.

denbigh

The one which was nearest to us when we lived in North Wales. Both vast places! This one opened in 1848 and also closed in 2002. I have looked at maps showing the distribution of these institutions in the UK at that time and it seems there was at least one per county. Many are still standing and are either crumbling or have been converted into conference centres, apartments, hotels etc.

Since drafting this post I have been looking in two old books I have here on my shelves. They are ‘home doctor’ books. I believe many homes had one on their shelves for looking up any family ailments and deciding whether a visit to the doctor was needed. In fact I had one which I bought when my first child was born in 1980. After all, we didn’t have the Internet in the 1980s. Neither of these two old books have publishing dates but from some of the adverts and diagrams in them I’ve worked it out that the oldest one is from the late 1800s and the other one is from roughly the 1920s. Always an avid reader, over the years I have often enjoyed looking through them and marvelling at some of the weird and wonderful advice which was given.

IMG_1164

The oldest one (above, it’s lost its cover) came from my grandmother’s house after she died. I remember taking it down from her bookshelves as a child and browsing in it. It used to amuse me that unwell people seemed to be offered a lot of gruel, broth and bread soaked in or tea in Victorian times.

IMG_1162

The newer one (above) was from our house but, as it would already have been old when my mum and dad married in 1950, it might also have come from one of the grandparents’ houses.  I decided to see what was said about mental health issues. In the oldest one I could find no reference to any of the terms we now use such as anxiety, depression and stress. The only item relevant to mental issues which I could find in the older book was Nervous Disorders.

IMG_1167

The main recommendations at this time were active exercise in the countryside, regulation of the bowels and early rising.

Progress had been made by the 1920s and the newer book has Anxiety, Depression and Nervousness listed.

IMG_1166        IMG_1165

By the this time, complete rest and exercising in the open air were still suggested but also the help of a doctor was mentioned.

Compare these extremely brief entries with the abundance of self-help books on the subject which are available today.

self help books

 

Pens and Pencils

When I started school there were pencils which we learned to write with and pens which we were allowed to write with when we were a bit older, maybe seven or eight. Not much has changed. Except for the pens and, to a lesser extent, the pencils.

The only pens provided in my Primary School were the wooden handled dipping pens.

dip pen_webimage

china inkwells

desks with inkwell holes

The ink for the pens was held in little china inkwells which fitted into holes in the desks. Each morning the ink monitors would make up a big jug of ink using ink powder and water, fill a trayful of inkwells, then place an inkwell into each desk hole. The standard issue school ink was a shade called blue-black.  I hated the dullness of that colour and longed to write with a bright blue ink. Although the top year in our primary school (eleven year olds) were allowed to use their own pens, the headteacher loathed ball-points (biros) calling them ‘new-fangled rubbish’ and banned us from using them. If you were lucky enough to have your own fountain pen, and I got one for my eleventh birthday which saw me all the way through high school, you could use that in school. I would fill mine from a bottle of Quink at home so that I didn’t have to use school blue-black ink. Parker pens were the most desirable but most of us had the more affordable Platignum pens. There were no other types of pen apart from Dipping pens, fountain pens and biros. Fibre tips, toller ball, fine felt-tips, fibre tips all had yet to be invented or at least to become mainstream. I remember when Tempo pens arrived on the scene when I was a student (and still a fountain pen user) and I loved them! To this day I am still not a fan of writing in biro, preferring ink pens or pencil.

parkerquink

There isn’t as much to say about pencils. There is a vast array of colours and styles available now but the fundamental design hasn’t changed. I do remember we children being very excited in school when the teacher acquired a desk mounted pencil sharpener. What a joy to use! We all wanted to be pencil monitor and have the job of sharpening the class’ pencils first thing in the morning. These gadgets still exist, I have seen them in some classrooms in schools I worked in. The design hasn’t changed.

imagesdownloaddownload (1)

Then we come to colouring pencils or ‘crayons’. Again, the basic design remains unchanged. One well known brand I remember well is Lakeland. I loved the tins they came in with a Lakeland scene on the lid. Even the smallest tins of their crayons had the scenic image on the tin.

lakelandvintage-1960s-lakeland-pencil-crayon-tin-with

I didn’t know then but the reason they were called Lakeland was because they were manufactured in the Lake District. The Derwent pencil company began in 1832 in Keswick, Cumbria and remained well known for producing the finest pencils in the world. There is even a pencil museum in Keswick.

220px-keswick_pencil_museum_(geograph_5455667)  Keswick’s Pencil Museum.

 

 

As always, images are courtesy of Google Images and Wikipedia. If anyone objects to my use of any picture please contact me so that I can remove it.

 

Mail Order

This winter, in the build-up to Christmas, there has been a lot of discussion about online shopping being the death of the High Street in Britain. This might well be true but what occurred to me was that there have always been other means of shopping besides physically visiting a shop.

The small town I lived in when I was a little girl (population around 2,000) was five miles away from our village had all the basics. There were two butchers, two newsagents, a greengrocer, a jeweller, two pharmacies, a couple of assorted draperies and gents outfitters, a hardware shop etc etc. For requirements beyond what our town could provide, we had to travel some distance. Swansea and Cardiff were at least an hour’s drive away and ‘big’ shopping trips were made a few times a year for Christmas shopping, new winter coats for the family, new shoes and so on. I remember thinking they were amazing with their department stores, book shops, large stores with lifts and escalators and toy shops. This was the only time we saw Boots, W H Smith, C and A and – most important of all (to us as children) – Woollies (F W Woolworth) which was heaven! It was also the perfect place to spend your little bit of pocket money as it had everything and it was all affordable.

Good old Woollies – RIP.
Howells Department store in Cardiff.
W H Smith, Newtown, Wales. One of the earliest branches and still in the style and layout of the original shops. It also houses a small museum telling the W H Smith story.

 

The rest of the time, my mum relied heavily on her mail order catalogue as did all the families in our village.

My mum’s catalogue was Marshall Ward followed later by Kays. I remember a neighbour favouring Freemans and my grandmother who lived with us liked J D Williams. Women used to swap catalogues to enjoy a wider choice of goods. From the catalogues we bought bedding, household goods, underwear, toys (via Father Christmas of course), adult and children’s clothing and many more things I can’t recall now. My mum would never buy shoes by mail order.

The pages we children used to pore over longingly!

In addition to the catalogues selling clothes and homeware, my dad used to get seeds and bulbs by mail order. Dobbie’s and Doby’s are two I remember. Newspapers and magazines also had goods for sale and on special offer.

 

 

Images obtained from the Internet. Anyone with objections to my use of a particular image can contact me and I will remove it.

How to Get a Man – 1950s style.

Unlike most of my posts, this one isn’t based on my own personal memories of childhood in the 50s and 60s but has been triggered by something which amused me.

Recently, I was on a train and I picked up a copy of the free newspaper Metro. In it was an article inspired by McCall’s magazine’s list of ‘129 ways to get a husband’ which has recently resurfaced online. Fair enough, even now single people can struggle to meet a partner if they live somewhere remote, work in an environment dominated by their own gender or are extremely shy and lacking in confidence. Dating apps and websites are replacing the small ads and can be a great way of meeting people as long as certain precautionary measures are taken in order to stay safe.

What is different about this is how dated it now sounds now and also how extremely sexist! Were men given similar advice? This links with my last post which covered sexist brands and ads from the 50s and 60s. In it I showed some adverts which implied that a woman had to be great in the kitchen in order to keep her man. I’m sure there weren’t any equivalents for men urging them to be handy with the DIY tools so that the woman didn’t leave him for a more capable model!

What follows are some quotes from the ‘129 ways’ list.

‘Don’t whine — girls who whine stay on the vine.’

‘If your mother’s fat, tell him you take after your father. If your father’s fat too, say you’re adopted.’

In the list women are advised to sit on a park bench and feed the pigeons, or ‘accidentally’ spill the contents of their bag in the hope that a handsome stranger will come to help.

The next one is particularly bad!

‘Make and sell toupées. Bald men are easy catches.’

Some examples from the actual list, taken directly from Metro online –

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Inline_2083727_16.9 (2)

Inline_2083902_16.9

50s wife       1950s-housewife-850x1211

50s couple   wife-53-600x728

The-perfect-50s-housewife

I also did a bit of Internet searching to see if there was a similar amount of advice offered to men at the time but found very little. Some of the tips I did find still managed to turn it around to what was expected of a wife e.g. ‘When you come home to a clean house and a hot meal, be sure to thank your wife for providing you with these things. Surprising her with flowers or another small gift will take you far.’

Finally, this list – abbreviated for the post – gives a list of nine things a wife must always bear in mind if she wants to keep her man happy. All advice was given by so-called marriage experts of the time.

1. A Smile Goes A Long Way

2. Keep Quiet

3. Wear Pink Underwear

4. Don’t Let The Kids Be Too Much Trouble

5. Expert Cooking Will Keep Your Man Loyal

6. Put As Much Care Into Your Appearance As Dinner

7. Don’t Be Too Sexual Or Too Prude

8. Don’t Be Mad If He Goes Astray

9. Remember That The Man Is In Charge

Have things changed? For the better or not? I leave you to be the judge of that This is for entertainment purposes only and I hope you’ve enjoyed it!

 

 

As always, my disclaimer is that all pictures and some information has been accessed online. If anyone has an issue with anything in this post, or in any earlier ones, please let me know and I will remove it.

Mansize Tissues – and Other Goods

kleenex

So, after 60 years, and following complaints about sexism, Kleenex are getting rid of their ‘Mansize’ tissues and renaming them Extra Large. This got me thinking about other goods past and present which could possibly be considered offensive by some people.

He-Man

This is a brand which has always amused me. Driving Instructors’ cars often used to carry a sign on the back saying ‘Fitted with He-Man Dual Controls’. Suggesting perhaps that only men can teach people to drive? I looked the company up as I’m not sure I still see the signs and I found that they are still in existence and still fitting dual controls in cars.

As I started to look around on the Internet for examples of brand names from the 50s and 60s which could be perceived as being sexist, I found instead some examples of current things which have caused a stir.

doritos    doritos-women-lady-crunch-low-snack

This one is from earlier this year. The quote below is from the Independent;

‘The “lady-friendly” version of the popular tortilla chips will make less of a crunch noise when you eat them, will be smaller in size and the packet is being specifically designed to fit inside a handbag. Because struggling to fit packets of crisps in our bags and the noise that comes with eating tortilla chips is clearly of huge concern to women today.’

Apparently, these ‘lady-friendly’ Doritos were never actually launched and the whole story stemmed from an interview with PepsiCo. CEO Indra Nooyi in which she discussed the idea of launching handbag sized packets of the product. Maybe the whole story was a bit of a ‘storm in a crisp packet’.

Gendered-Toys

There have been complaints about Kinder Surprise being gender-specific. Blue wrapped eggs contain ‘boy toys’ and pink ones ‘girl toys’ although the wording carefully avoids mention boys and girls.

Dolly Babe shoe

 

Another current one. Clarks have received complaints about this model of girls’ shoe which was named the Dolly Babe.

waitrose

Waitrose have renamed this sandwich after complaints from customers.

Bristol Ale   Noelle beer

Oh dear! And these are current – in spite of having a 50s look and being incredibly sexist.

Relish

This is one I’m just slotting in here for fun. Gentleman’s Relish spread has been around since before Victorian times and is still sold in higher-end food stores and delicatessens here in the UK. I couldn’t find any record of anyone objecting to it. I have occasionally bought it as a tongue-in-cheek birthday or Christmas present for male relatives.

 

So, I set out to look for sexist brand names from the unenlightened 50s and 60s and have ended up finding plenty of current ones. I’ll finish with a few truly terrible ads which are from the 50s – I’ve shown some of these in earlier posts.

Sexism-In-Vintage-Ads-14     Sexism-In-Vintage-Ads-11

Sexism-In-Vintage-Ads-15     offending_lysol1

Mordine        marriagead

 

 

Images taken from Google Images. If anyone has reason to object to the use of any pictures used, please contact me via this blog.

Buzz Words, Lingo and Slang.

Apologies for the long silence! I have had a houseful of family staying for several weeks and everything else was shelved.

This is an idea I’ve been mulling over for a while. Several times a day I hear someone use a word or phrase and I think ‘That’s one to save. It didn’t exist in the 1950s/ 60s.’

I’m going to start with some words which were very new and trendy (I think trendy is one of the new ones?) in the 1950s. I was only a kid but I heard these word – mainly in song lyrics.

 

THE 1950s

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I have added ‘translations’ for those who weren’t alive at the time and might be puzzled!

Gas – when something was really good or great fun it was described as being ‘a gas’ . It was still around in the 1960s – check out the lyrics of Jumpin’ Jack Flash by The Rolling Stones.

Daddy-O – a term of address from one person to another. Credited to beatnik slang.

Beatnik – definition courtesy of Wiktionary

  1. A person who dresses in a manner that is not socially acceptable and therewith is supposed to reject conventional norms of thought and behavior; nonconformist in dress and behavior
  2. A person associated with the Beat Generation of the 1950s and 1960s or its style.

Cat – a cool/ groovy person

Cool – this is still around and now usually means good (more or less) but then it was only used for anything very special.

Greaser – a word used to describe youths with loads of Brylcreem on their hair.

No sweat – nowadays I more often hear ‘no problem’ or ‘no worries’ but this was the expression at the time.

Groovy – cool, trendy, etc

THE 1960s

1960s-Hippies-Fashion

Dig it  – I dig it meant you really liked it.

Far out – superb

Outta sight – amazing, even better than far out.

Zonked – done in, tired

Sock it to me – as in ‘Yes! I love it! Give me some more.’

NOW

I have deliberately kept away from technology so words like web, internet, digital, cyber etc etc don’t show here. That is a post by itself!

350-sq-selfie-mountain-shutterstock_207527209_0              S Stick

 

Selfie

24/ 7

Brill – when I was young, the word brilliant described

a. something shining very brightly

or

b. somebody who was extremely intelligent.

Now it is just used in place of good, lovely, fine etc and brill is as commonly used as brilliant.

Gross – when I was in school a gross was a mathematical term. It stood for 144! We now commonly describe something disgusting as gross.

Cool – arrived in the 50s and then meant something which was absolutely on trend and totally sought after. This word has hung around and now gets used as freely as OK.

Mega

Downsize

Leggings –  The word existed when I was a child and usually referred to baby garments, mostly knitted, which covered the legs but not the feet. Now they’re one of the most widespread items of female clothing.

Vintage-1950s-childrens-clothes-pram-set-Kamella-Riteward

Sleepover

Playdate

Grass roots

Hijack

Backpack

Gap year

Butch

Gay – the word gay was always around but it used to mean happy, jolly.

Sexism/ ageism/ racism

Recycling              recycling

Environmental   Environment

 

 

 

Shampoo, Toothpaste and Face Cream.

I was buying a tube of toothpaste the other day and I was amazed, as I am each time, by the vast number of pastes available. Not just different brands. Each brand seems to have dozens of different types! Out of interest I did a Google search on Colgate toothpastes and found 55 listed. Back in the 1950s and 60s there were only a few brands. Each brand had one type. I remember Signal being launched and longing to try it but my mum always bought Gibbs SR.

colgate ad  SR

Two of the very few brands we had in my childhood.

toothpaste aisle

Today’s huge selection.

The same applies to other everyday toiletries. The main shampoos I remember are Sunsilk, Supersoft, Vosene and Loxene. All shops selling toiletries sold shampoo in sachets as well as bottles. There were no conditioners. The first one to hit the market was called Tame Creme Rinse. I used to buy a sachet for myself. You then mixed the contents with warm water in a cup and poured the solution over your hair after shampooing. It was a revelation. I could get a comb through my wet hair without having to spend ages working through knots and tangles.

vosene                             shamp sachets

 

vaseline shampoo                      loxene ad

 

shamp aisle

A bewildering choice of shampoos and conditioner.

I don’t think we heard the word moisturiser back then, they were known as face creams. We always had Nivea in our house. My mum used to rub it on our cheeks before we went outside in really cold weather. There were also creams called ‘cold cream’.  My mum used ro rub cold cream into her face before bed. I remember one my Nana used to use called Ponds Vanishing Cream. I can still recall the smell of it.

ponds             ponds-cold-creame-white-jar-5

nivea ad

I know a lot of people didn’t wear deodorant in the 1950s and 60s. I can recall, in high school in the 60s, being aware which girls didn’t wear deodorant. My mum used one called Odorono and my sister and I were encouraged to use deodorant as we approached puberty. The only other ones I remember the names of are Mum and Sno-mist. I favoured Sno-mist probably because it was advertised on Radio Luxembourg and had a catchy jingle. You could get stick on or sprays. The sprays weren’t aerosols, just squeezy plastic bottles.

 

sno mist     sno-mist-deodorant1-243x300

deodorants aisle

Some of the many deodorants now available.

 

 

Health and Fitness

Like many people, I do my best to keep myself healthy and reasonably fit – for a woman in her 60s! Everyone I know – younger than me, older than me or the same age – does some sort of exercise. The choices these days are endless. There are gyms to join, walking groups, Pilates classes, yoga – the choice is endless. There are the things which don’t need to be done in a group or class like running, walking, cycling. Then there are the sports. Football, rugby, tennis, cricket, badminton – you name it!

What occurred to me the other day was that back in the 1950s, mums and dads, grannies and grandads didn’t exercise. They were probably more active physically in their day-to-day life than we are (fewer cars, no labour-saving devices etc.) but I knew no adults who played sport, ran or walked for exercise. There were hardly any gyms, exercise classes or fitness groups – certainly not where I lived. Perhaps it was different in the cities?

My memory is that, back then, many people enjoyed sport as youngsters when they were in school and maybe beyond that in college or in the forces. Some carried on playing football, cricket, or tennis for local clubs. Then when they got married and had children, they gave it all up. That was more to do with team games and a social life than for the health benefits. Similarly, many people enjoyed a walk in the country at weekends or on holiday but for the pleasure of enjoying the surroundings and the wildlife rather with fitness as the purpose. Walking groups are massive now. What I’m looking back at and realising is that people didn’t exercise simply for the sake of health and fitness.

Cycling has, in recent years, had a massive rise in popularity. The bikes are sophisticated pieces of machinery, clothing and accessories are scientifically developed. Cycling clubs have mushroomed and at the weekends our roads are alive with two-wheeled exercisers. Back in the 50’s, bikes were everywhere. The difference is that people cycled to get somewhere. It was the early days of motoring and many people still didn’t own cars. Men and women cycled to work, children cycled to school, vicars visited their parishioners on bikes, policemen went on the beat on bikes. A man cycling to work in an office would be wearing a tweed suit and a trilby, a workman would be in overalls with a cap on and his bag of tools over his shoulder or in a saddle bag. The bikes were sensible, solid and practical. They were not built for speed or rough terrain.

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Raleigh_1940s_advert.jpg

Sturdy, reliable, hardwearing – the  bikes of the 1950s

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1950   People cycling to work in Oxford.

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My supremely fit son-in-law on his recent Alpine adventure. A very different sort of cycling!

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The following two quotes are taken from the Buchanan report ‘Traffic in Towns’ published by engineer and planner Colin Buchanan in 1963.

“There [should be] an allocation of movements to pedal cycles,but it must be admitted that it is a moot point how many cyclists there  will be in 2010.”

“Cyclists should not be admitted to primary networks, for obvious reasons of safety and the free flow of vehicular traffic. It would make the design of these roads far too complicated to build ‘cycle tracks’ into them … It would be very expensive, and probably impracticable, to build a completely separate system of tracks for cyclists.”

He had based his opinions on the fact that sales of new cycles had been dropping since the 1950s and reached an all-time low of less than 200,000 by the end of the 1960s (today, 2.5m bicycles are sold each year). This influential report, which guided road building in Britain for decades, effectively squeezed bikes out of our towns.

The next two quotes are from a study carried out based on the cities of Manchester and Glasgow by Colin Pooley and Jean Turnbull

“Use of the bicycle to travel to work between about 1920 and 1950 was particularly notable in smaller settlements,with commuting by bicycle the single most important means of travelling to work in such towns in the 1940s.” (Pooley and Turnbull 2000: 14)

“From the 1950s cycling rapidly declined in popularity.” (Pooley and Turnbull 2000: 19)

One thing I do remember is my mum listening to a lady called Eileen Fowler on the radio. She did a short programme where she talked the listener through various bends and stretches. Since starting this post I have looked her up and she was a fitness instructor from the 1930s so she was definitely ahead of her time. In keeping with the times, the likes of Eileen Fowler focused mainly on improving your shape and looking ‘younger’ rather than exercise for health as we now know it.

R-6900716-1429103504-2783.jpeg     hqdefault

 

I know that there were swimming pools in all towns even then and that people have always enjoyed swimming for pleasure. The popularity of swimming pools in British towns goes back to when most houses didn’t have bathrooms and the swimming local pool (often known as swimming baths) were used as a means of keeping clean. Indeed, many of them had cubicles containing individual baths where you could have a proper warm, soapy soak. We lived nowhere near any swimming pools so I had no experience of that apart from sometimes when we were away on holiday. Even so, I know that the difference now is that many more people take up swimming to get fit which wasn’t really a consideration back in the 1950s when it was looked on mainly as pleasurable and sociable.

bath    5030896452_062be21285_b

 

 

 

As usual, my disclaimer is this. I lived miles from anywhere so my memories will be very different from those of people who grew up in towns and cities. Also, I was a child and I’m talking about my view of the world of adults as I saw it then. These are my impressions and opinions only.

The images were sourced on the internet, as were the quotes. Anyone unhappy with anything I have used please approach me and I will remove the offending item.

 

 

 

Space, Weddings and Funerals – on TV.

Here in Britain, we have just had a royal wedding. I’m sure you all heard about it so I won’t say any more on the subject. I was away on holiday in another country when it was on but even so, my friends and I were able to watch it together.

50s tv set    60s tv set

The following memories are of my very early TV experiences and are more about the excitement of viewing a live occasion than about the events themselves.

alexandra's wedding

I have very clear memories of some big state occasions (weddings and funerals) in the early 60s. In 1960, Princess Margaret the Queen’s sister, married Anthony Armstrong Jones. We knew it was being televised. My mum and her friends and their children really wanted to watch it – but none of us had TVs. Then my mum’s friend Miriam, who lived on a farm in our village, said that her Aunty Gladys had a TV. Gladys lived in the tiny town (which seemed big to us!) five miles away. TV had reached there before it stretched out to the remote surrounding villages. Anyway, this dear old lady said we could all watch it at her house. We children were enthralled with being able to watch TV – the content was less important to us. The mums really enjoyed watching their first televised state occasion. There was, of course, tea, cakes and biscuits.

yuri

In April 1961 the world saw the first human being, Yuri Gagarin, launched into space. There were still no homes in my village with a TV but – amidst huge excitement – my primary school headteacher decided to buy a TV for school use and to buy it in time for the whole school (all 28 of us!) to watch the launch live. Space travel and live TV at the same time – we were SO amazed and I’ve never forgotten it.

kents wedding

Also in 1961 was the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Kent. I remember it very clearly. We also watched this at Aunty Gladys’ house and I remember thinking Katherine, the Duchess of Kent, was absolutely beautiful.

alexandra's wedding

In 1963, Princess Alexandra married Angus Ogilvy and, once again, the mums and children of the village wanted to watch it. By this time we had a TV of our own. Some friends in the village didn’t have a TV yet and came to us to watch it.

churchill    ch fun

Similarly, in 1965, the country mourned the death of Winston Churchill. Friends came to watch it at our house. These occasions were daytime events and at that time there was hardly any daytime TV. When you watched anything during daylight hours the curtains were always closed. The image transmitted was so weak that in the light of day it was very hard to see.