In 1952, what could you do?

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In 1952…

A New QueenThe Queen
King George VI died on 6 February 1952.
Princess Elizabeth was told at Forest Lodge, Kenya that she was now Queen.

The State Funeral was on Friday 15 February.
The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was in 1953. Tuesday 2 June was Coronation Day.
It was the first Coronation to be televised.
Many people crowded into neighbours’ living rooms to watch on a small television screen, about 15” in size.


We earned and spent pounds shillings and pence. £ – s – dCoin
There were 12 pennies to the shilling, 20 shillings to the pound

A man’s average weekly earnings were £9-5-11
The average weekly wage for women was just over £5
There was no equal rights legislation.

Telephones were mainly used in businesses and in some well off households.Telephone
Telephone rental to a private residence was between £1-10-0 and £2 per quarter

The first residents in Tyrells Close had to share telephone lines

Ford Zephyr Six 1952 sideb
If you could afford a car, prices at the 1952 Motor Show were:
Aston Martin DB2 £2,723Morris Minor
Jaguar XK10 £1,774
Ford Zephyr £829
Morris Minor £63



Winston Churchill was Prime Minister,
Anthony Eden was Foreign Secretary.


New kitchens had fitted units, with electric cookers, and laminated furniture. Walls were painted in pastel colours and laminated worktops were brightly coloured.
Many people had a kitchen cabinet – a cupboard with a pull-down flap for food preparation. Few people owned a refrigerator: shopping was done daily and larders kept food cool.

Less than 1 in 6 households had a washing machine in 1952. Spin-dryers and twin-tubs were introduced in the mid 50s. Most laundry was boiled.

In 1952 meat, bacon, tea, butter, margarine and cooking fats, cheese, eggs, sweets and chocolates were still rationed.
Tea came off rationing in October 52 but the cheese ration was reduced from 1½ oz  to 1 oz per person per week.Rations

1952 grocery prices:
Potatoes                 2d per lb (pound)
Butter (rationed)     4s per lb
Milk                          7d per pint
Meat (rationed)        2s per lb
Tea (rationed)         2/6 per lb.

You bought different types of food in separate shops. Sainsbury’s opened their first self-service store in Croydon in 1950, but the Chelmsford Sainsbury’s served you at the counter, until well into the 1960s.

Home-cooked meals often included home-grown produce.
Women usually did the cooking. Many people had a midday dinner and tea in the afternoon.
Some Tyrells Close residents held evening dinner parties, inviting others in the street.

Children had a free 1/3 pint of milk a day at school. The paper straws always became soggy.

Radio was BBC Home service, Light Programme and Third Programme, also Radio Luxembourg.
Mrs Dale’s Diary, The Archers and The Goon Show were popular.
TV was BBC only for news, instruction and drama. Children watched Muffin the Mule, Andy Pandy and The Flowerpot Men.

Women went to WI, men to the pub and sport.
Almost everyone went to the cinema.
Shops and businesses closed on Sundays.

Car ownership increased from 2million cars and vans on the roads in 1948 to over 3million in 1952.

Families holidays were taken at the seaside or Butlins.
Butlins Tent
Going abroad was only for the well-to- do – in 1950 a Horizon holiday under canvas in Corsica cost £35-10 each

Sport in 1952
Surrey won the Cricket County Championship.
In the FA Cup Newcastle Utd beat Arsenal 1-0 and retained Cup.
Man Utd won Football League Championship.
Footballers’ maximum wage:
£14 per week while playing, £10 prw in closed season; £30 for playing in an International.
Betting on the pools was popular.

Oxford won the Boat Race

Frank Sedgeman of Australia and Maureen Connolly won Wimbledon.
It was an Olympic year – Oslo in winter and Helsinki in summer. The equestrian team won the only British medal.

Clothes prices in 1952:
Dress £3-5-11    Skirt £1-3-11
Man’s suit £3-15-0    Men’s shoes £2-15-9

1950s vintage dress
Fashions changed slowly. Women bought clothes off the peg. They wore trousers and shorts for holidays and swimsuits with shirring elastic. They had their hair permed at the hairdressers.
School uniform for girls was a gymslip and a blouse.

Men wore suits. Even on holiday, men wore sports jacket, collar and tie. Think of Percy Thrower and Barry Bucknell, presenting Gardening and DIY programmes wearing shirt and tie.
Corduroy jackets and pullovers were worn. Men still wore hats.
Schoolboys wore short trousers with shirts and ties and blazers. Socks came to the knee.
Boys and men went to the barbers regularly – hair was always worn short.

The Arts

Books of the year:
CS Forester, Lieutenant Hornblower;
Men at Arms, Evelyn Waugh;
EB White – Charlotte’s Web; Mary Norton, The Borrowers.

The Mousetrap opened in London
Theatre Royal Drury Lane – South Pacific with Mary Martin

Dame Vera Lynn
Classical Music: Benjamin Britten; The Proms were popular
Popular Music: Vera Lynn, Al Martino, Mario Lanza, Nat King Cole
NME launched in 1952

Artists:  Stanley Spencer, Graham Sutherland, John Piper and Ben Nicholson

Top films of the year: High Noon; The Quiet Man

National Service

Every male citizen between ages of 18-26 was liable for 18months’ compulsory military service.
(In 1952 this became 2 years, because of the Korean War), followed by 3 ½ years in the Reserves.

The Weather in 1952
In August Lynmouth, Devon was devastated by floods.
The weather was variable:
The South East had severe snow and gales on 29 March
April and May were sunny – 79F on 30 April and 86F on 18 May.
June was dull and changeable
It rained in August and was cold in September
Oct was colder, sunnier and wetter than usual
November was cold with sleet and more snow in Nov than since 1919
December was cold. It was estimated that he London smog on 5-9 December killed around 4,000 people.