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Last Updated: Monday, 16 June, 2003, 09:44 GMT 10:44 UK
Snapshots of a century: I was there
Century, an exhibition of photographs taken between 1900 and 2000, has opened at London's Proud Central gallery. BBC News Online asked for your memories of some of the events captured on camera.

On 26 October 1965, the Beatles went to Buckingham Palace to receive MBEs from the Queen.

Some of your memories of Beatlemania:

There were mixed emotions regarding the MBEs, the lowest form of knighthood. John Lennon didn't want to accept and had to be talked into it by Brian Epstein. His attitude was shown by his joke that they smoked pot in the Palace toilets, which was untrue, but has gone down in Beatles mythology. I don't think George or Ringo were all that bothered. Paul, of course, loved it. He was the one who desired it most.

Fans, I think, were upset by all the irate holders of MBEs who returned their gongs in protest. This illustrated the gap between the Establishment and the young rebels. Rock and roll then was about rebellion and the MBE honours were part of the Establishment. Some fans welcomed it; others thought the Beatles had sold out to the Establishment.
Bill Harry, editor of Mersey Beat and friend of John Lennon

One of my school friends thought the Beatles were great straight away and joined the emerging fan club and it turns out he was member No.13! I was lucky to see - but not hear - them three times. I organised a trip to see them at Northampton, which involved a coach trip. I remember it cost my mum a lot as I didn't record the money properly! The concerts were screamfests, and practically nothing could be heard unless you put your fingers half way into your ears, but I don't suppose we really cared...we had been there.

In 1963, I was lucky to be taken to one of the early package holidays to Spain, but I wasn't grateful because I knew a Beatles' record was coming out the day after we left, and I sulked for two weeks!
Janet Edroff, Stevenage

I remember quite vividly queuing for tickets to see the Beatles at Leeds Odeon. Once we had managed to get them, we got on the bus to Bradford and managed to get tickets to see them the following night there too. I was lucky enough to get George Harrison's autograph and I still have the ticket stubs today.
Diane White, Blackwater

I was 14 years old, and with several friends from school we queued all night outside the Walthamstow Granada to buy tickets for a Beatles concert. The police kept the waiting crowd across the street until the cinema had its last show. Then they stopped all the traffic and allowed us to rush across the street to form another queue for the night.

Tickets went on sale at 7:30am Sunday morning and I left clutching a third row middle seat ticket. The concert was amazing, although we couldn't hear anything just all of us screaming. We stood on the seats and waved scarves - anything to attract a Beatle's attention.
Lesley Blavins, San Francisco

I saw the Beatles live at the Albert Hall with my sister and parents. I was about seven at the time. The screaming was so loud that we didn't actually get to hear them play a single note but the atmosphere was great. Prior to this, I recall my parents seeing them on Top of the Pops and predicting they would be another five minute wonder!
Louise Bass, London

I saw the Beatles in 1963 at a Nottingham theatre. I was sure I wouldn't scream and was terrified by the wall of screams that erupted when they appeared on stage, but I found myself on my feet screaming my head off too. Ringo nearly fell off his dais as he sat behind the drums. John kept yelling at us to shut up and listen to the music.
Lynda, Mukilteo, Washington, USA

Early morning deliveries, 1940
1940: How did Britons endure the Blitz?

Some of your memories of the Blitz:

There definitely was a defiant Blitz Spirit - at least among the girls who attended the South East London Emergency Secondary School for Girls in Greenwich.

We had to make our own way the many miles to school by bike. We were bombed every night and strafed at school in the playground by a lone enemy aircraft and had lessons wearing our gas masks. Just try French and Latin in one of those things!

The neighbouring junior school received a direct hit, killing large numbers of children and staff. You'd better believe we had spirit - and planned revenge, too, if the Germans ever landed!
Joyce Trimmer, Ontario, Canada

I was five when the war broke out, but I remember a doodlebug dropping on a street and wiping eight houses off the map and windows breaking for a radius of at least two miles. My clearest memory is of my father collecting me from school on his bike and the silence all round as we rode home as fast as we could to get into our Anderson shelter.
Mrs E Ward, Watford, UK

The angry young men, 1978
1978: Were skinheads really thugs or just misunderstood?
Some of your memories of the skinheads:

As a young ethnic minority girl in the 70s, I remember the bewilderment I felt when I heard of skinheads. What on earth was a skinhead when it, he or she was at home?

However, bewilderment soon turned to terror as racism once again reared its ugly head in the UK and 'skinhead' became synonymous with 'racist thug'. At least this was how a lot of minority residents thought.

But a lot of my English friends looked at being a skinhead quite differently and some even dabbled in skinheadism. I can still remember a close friend coming to my house and almost giving me a heart attack because he had shaved his head, had on blood red braces and was wearing bovver boots with bright red laces. My family were absolutely horrified when they saw him, they were sure I was about to join the National Front or at least start up a Bengali Chapter!

If I am honest I can't look back on that era with any nostalgia whatsoever, but I can see it as a part of an expanding British cultural identity that we had to go through. Growing pains, I think you call it.
Sacha Mansuran, Brighton

I was a punk in late 70s. When punk began its slide into commercial tedium in 1978 about half my friends jumped on the next bandwagon - ska, and a lot of them became skinheads as well.

There was a small element of violent neo-Nazi skinheads, but the vast majority were in it for fashion rather than politics. As the decade came to an end skinheads became increasingly associated with right-wing politics. By this time many of the fashion skinheads had moved onto the next cult - rockabilly, new romantics, goth or whatever and there was a bit of a hard core nutters left.
Martin Rapier, Sheffield

It amazes me that people still associate skinheads with violence and racism. The tabloids of the 70's created the violent skin, after a few were caught on camera creating a disturbance. The violent, aggressive skin was then born! The original skins were neither violent or racist and it was not uncommon to see black skins in clubs. SHARP (Skin Heads Against Racial Prejudice) was formed to counter the tabloid image of the skin. I remember being a skin during this time and enjoyed every moment of it. I think we were misunderstood mainly by the media, but we didn't care.
Gary Pentland, UK London

Mines on the east coast of England
1945: What was it like growing up in post-war Britain?
Some of your memories of growing up after the war:

I was born in 1947 and brought up in South Shields where there had been pretty heavy bombing. We used to play on bomb damaged streets - the houses had been knocked down, but the bricks and some walls were still around.

I remember we would walk along one very narrow ledge, which became progressively higher the further you went along it. In retrospect, this was one side of a bombed out house, and we were walking the length of a room.

We moved to Newcastle when I was five and I remember having to give the ice cream man the ration book.
Penny Ford, Bristol

As a child, I played and learned to ride a bike on bombsites. In my lexicon, a bombsite was a small green park between houses; it came as a surprise in later childhood to learn the etymology of the word meant that it was the site of a bomb explosion!
David Kahn, Southampton

We used to play in the old air raid shelters on Barrack Road. They were dirty old things, full of water and who knows what else. But it was great fun for a couple of sisters and their friends who thought going to the shelters was more daring than going to the nearby park.
Sandra Alexander, Newcastle Upon Tyne

We returned to London in 1945 when I was five years old. I can remember vividly playing in the bombed out buildings around the Paddington Station area. The devastation was unbelievable when one looks back over time. But at the time, I suppose that we thought that this was life, and just kept on playing.
Edward JP Cadogan, Gilbert, Arizona, USA

I lived in Edge Hill, Liverpool. I remember playing on the bomb sites down from our tenements. The holes left by bombs made great cubby houses. We also played in the bombed buildings - with their floors blown out and staircases leading to nowhere. We played in the in the air raid shelters, they made great club rooms.
Helen Fearon, Bunbury, West Australia

Belfast 1975
1975: Did the Troubles affect your childhood?

Some of your memories of the Troubles:

My sister was born in the hospital on the Falls Road in 1972. As my mother was giving birth, she could hear the sound of semi-automatic machine gun fire reverberating around the buildings outside.

We had moved from Wales to a small town just outside Belfast as my father worked for ICI and they had relocated him there.

We moved back to the mainland in the end because of an evening we would sit and listen to bombs going off in Belfast in the distance - my mother decided it was no place to bring up children. We were lucky to be able to escape it, unlike families in Palestine and Israel.

Shame really though, I remember standing on the old cannons at Carrickfergus Castle when I was three or four years old, looking out to sea over the Giant's Causeway. That's the tragedy of Northern Ireland - so much hatred and pain in such a beautiful country.
Andrew Hunt, Manchester, UK

The tensions between the communities was difficult to explain. It would take little to fall out of favour with an otherwise friendly neighbour if you were of the opposite religion and a sectarian event were to occur. There were areas you avoided, people who you would ignore and days of the year that you would either dread or rejoice. This was one of the deciding factors in my decision to immigrate to Canada, I had had enough and was not prepared to expose my children to what I had to go through.

I do regret having to leave the country I was born in, I am proud to be Irish and I resent those that caused and propagated the Troubles.
John Collins, Canada

All photographs courtesy of Getty Images. Century, The Exhibition can be seen at Proud Central, 5 Buckingham Street, The Strand, London. It runs until 30 July.

Return of Beatlemania
14 Dec 99  |  Entertainment
Memories of the Belfast blitz
11 Apr 01  |  Northern Ireland

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