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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 May 2007, 16:06 GMT 17:06 UK
Your 1950s: Fashion and leisure
Teddy boy, 1954
The Magazine is compiling a people's history of modern Britain, in parallel to Andrew Marr's television programme about post-war Britain. So what do you remember about the fashion and leisure of the 1950s?

It was the decade of the Coronation, the end of food rationing and the Suez Crisis.

We had an overwhelming response to our plea for memories of the 1950s.

And although the period is widely remembered as a time of austerity and hardship, many of you recalled the fun.

Here is a selection of your observations.

The 50s were deadly dull because the adults that had fought World War II had had more than enough excitement and were content to make babies and homes with white furniture and started the business of consumer durables. The children of the 50s couldn't wait to grow up and reject the false prophet of materialism and it was those children of the 50s who created the swinging 60s the minute they could pull on their sexy jeans and mini-skirts and gave space to sex, drugs and rock n' roll. Derek Amory, Richmond

I wore pelmets for skirts, winkle picker high heels, and my father used to say that my shoes arrived before me, I remember lots of rock and roll and dancing all the time, teddy boys and mods, I had a fabulous teenage time, and would not have wished to grow up in any other era, I am still jiving to this day.
Thurma Cohen, Bedford
I was a teenager at the birth of rock 'n roll - Elvis; Buddy Holly; Little Richard; what an era! American-influenced cars (Austin Atlantic; Ford Zephyr; etc); girls in huge petticoats and stilletos... Everything seemed possible...
This was a time for pushing the kitchen table to one side so that my sister and I could learn to jive to Bill Haley and the Comets... of course, mum and dad said rock n roll will not last!
Ray Caldicott,

I remember my parents being horrified by teddy boys with their drainpipe trousers, beetle-crusher shoes, fluorescent pink socks and DA haircuts (ooh, they might have flick knives), and the girls with beehive hairdo's or pony tails, frilly white blouses, huge circular skirts with paper nylon petticoats and hoops to hold them out, and kitten-heeled shoes. Stockings and suspenders - no tights then. Jiving. A cousin of mine was married in a dress with a skirt like that and couldn't get the hoop out of the front door! My parents did not listen to popular music being more interested in Mantovani, Mario Lanza and Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, but my uncle who lived with us had a good collection including Johnny Ray, the Platters and Bill Haley. He was not, however, interested in Elvis Presley! When I was 12 or 13 I liked rock'n'roll and collected items by (ahem) Tommy Steele, Eddie Cochrane and Buddy Holly. I remember vaguely the death of James Dean though it didn't mean much to me, then Buddy Holly's then Eddie Cochrane's.
Sheila Ferguson nee Richardson, Maidstone Kent

I suppose we were the first teenagers. At 15, music was not at the top of my agenda, earning money was the thing that mattered as it gave you freedom, also you were expected to pay your own way. The other thing that you thought about as you got nearer to 18 was which part of the world the government might send you to from which you might not come back. We biked to dances on Saturday nights, sometimes having a few too many so had to push them home rather than ride. All in all it was a good time to be young.
Michael Cornell, Marhamchurch Cornwall

I'm baby-boomer, born 1942. We lived in Bucks in the 50s. We all had bicycles, and spent days during the holidays visiting one another's houses, going off for hours into the countryside, in fact our parents didn't expect to see us until mealtimes. About the mid-50s a favourite occupation was visiting the local record shop and listening to the pop records of the day in their "listening rooms". The records were, of course, large vinyl singles. We used to get thrown out when the staff were sick of us! My favourites were Frankie Laine, Dickie Valentine and then The Platters; until Elvis arrived on the scene and EVERYTHING changed! Such excitement! I had a black, wind-up gramophone which needed the needles changing regularly and had no volume control. We played tennis on council courts, badminton in the local scouts hut or visited the public swimming pool in the summer. One summer we all took dancing lessons (our parents thought it would keep us out of trouble) and actually dancing with a boy was just breathtakingly daring.
Sally Gibbons, London

My memories of the 1950s as a demobilised sailor are of the big bands, Geraldo, Ambrose, Victor Sylvester, the radio programmes, Itma, with Tommy Handley etc and of the dances on a Saturday night. The queues for the cinema at weekends in Birmingham city centre, the electric trams (still running). The 50-bob tailors. A much slower life style but very enjoyable for the young and young at heart.
Ivor Witton, Hove

I was born in 1946 so remember the 1950s of my childhood very well. Perhaps the greatest memory was watching a tiny 12" screen b&w Eko television and seeing such characters as Muffin the Muleand Hank of Hank Rides Again. But my most vivid memory is drawing up to the wireless set and listening to Jet Morgan & Journey into Space. Fantastic.
Bill Anderson, Newcastle Upon Tyne

I was five when the decade started, lived in London and had so much freedom as a child. School holidays were spent at the local Lido or rec and we were out all day with no worried mums wondering where we were. We played in the street and bought home-made vividly coloured ice lollies from the back of a local house for 1d each. We didn't have TV until I was 11, or a car. We went on day trips to the coast by Grey-Green Coaches from Tottenham. I passed the 11-plus and went to a local grammar school. Went dancing at the Tottenham Royal (1/6d on Mondays, 2shillings on Thursdays) to all the latest records. London smog was notorious, and my mum made us special masks with tapes to tie round the back of our heads - so stylish! I fell in love with Elvis and bought Blue Suede Shoes on a 78rpm record.
Avril Watson, Maidstone

Beehive hairstyles and swagger coats, getting married and trying to find somewhere to live with a baby, no help in those days. Friday nights playing cards with friends and eating sausage and fried tomato bread rolls, all we could afford. Suddenly discovering rock and roll, Elvis Presley and the first Hit Parade, standing in the record dept of Lewis stores in Birmingham, pram and all listening to Paul Anka, and a host of new stars waiting to be famous, those were the days my friend when we had nothing else to do but we also had everything freedom after the war years and best of all, the magical 60s to look forward to, although we had no idea at the time what lay ahead for us. They really were some of the best years of my life.
Chrissie Brennan, Hessle East Riding of Yorkshire England

Times were hard in the 50s, after the war, and it was particularly difficult with four young sons to support. We had no telly or radio, of course, so we spent our nights singing and dancing around without music. It would have looked a bit odd to outsiders, but the long nights just flew by.
Bill Stitt, Edinburgh

Living in Dalston in the 50s as a 4-7 year old, the nearby bomb site opposite Ridley Road market was an adventure play ground. I remember the freedom to play there unhindered and unsupervised. The bomb site was an imaginary treasure trove for adventurous boys!
Ian Berle, Sutton, Surrey

Seeing a film called "Destination Moon". How far-fetched was that? Acting poor, props amateurish and everyone thought it extremely funny. Little did we know that men visiting the moon would walk on it. A fond memory.
Lorna Dymond, Cricket St. Thomas, Chard, Somerset

As youngsters we played out all the time..."make sure you`re back before the street-light goes on", the street light being gas of course(and many of the terraced houses in our street still had gas light). No health and safety gone mad back then, no litigation culture, no real traffic. The world was our playground. In the street we had "wars", pelting each other with stones. We climbed the co-op wall and dived headlong into the co-op dump, a mass of cardboard boxes, bones, cheese rinds, vegetable leaves, maggots and rat shit. we built a den right in the middle of it all. We`d cycle to the docks, go on board the tramp steamers there from exotic places like Groningen, Hamburg and Amsterdam. The favourites were the Geest boats loaded with bananas. We swam in tidal rivers, spent hours out on the marshes cockling and picking samphire. We climbed trees, lit fires, swung across the old reservoir on ropes and tyres. There`d be a good half dozen of us on our bikes, cycling the 24 miles to Skeggy for a swim, then cycling back again afterwards.(Child obesity had yet to be invented).We did everything and more besides. No-one died, no-one got badly hurt, no-one got abducted, no-one was kiddie-fiddled.
Roger Bray

Holidays - well, we didn't have a car, no-one did. We went on day trips - we used to take the train from Plymouth to the Torbay resorts, places like Goodrington and Teignmouth, where once or twice we had a caravan for a week. It must have been very hard work, especially for Mum, making meals in a caravan. There was no question of eating out, not even fish and chips. The caravan was very cramped, especially after my brother was born in 1956 and two adults, three children, a toddler and a dog - and if it rained we were cooped up inside all day. I do remember plastic macs and plastic rain hoods. Yuk. We wore those elastic smocked bathing costumes and sun bonnets, what a fright we looked. We spent a lot of time wandering round the caravan park where all the vans had names and we used to be like "train spotters" and see who could collect the most names. On one occasion one of us lost a spade on the beach. Dad spent the rest of the day digging up the beach looking for it. We couldn't afford to lose things, it was a major drama.
Angela Southern, Street, Somerset, UK

Lonnie Donegan was the UK's Elvis Presley, Beer was cheap - we had demob suites to wear, then we heard Rock Island Line, we found coffee that tasted like Rocket Fuel in the coffee bars - we had disposable income and fashion began, we had our own entertainment and our own opinion. Thank you Lonnie Donegan, and guys like him who gave us the opportunity to do what we wanted - but also gave us "FUN" that is the key word for the 50's FUN - that's all we knew
Warren James, Coventry

Billy Vaughan's and Victor Sylvestor's Orchestras, Tony Brent, Four Preps, Four Aces, Brothers Four, Pat Boone, Elvis Presley, (Sir) Cliff Richards, Ricky Nelson, John Wayne, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry (to name a few) and stars of other Hollywood and UK Pop and Westerns are the fond memories of the 50s, during latter parts of which I was in my early teens, that I cherish.
B Gunaratna, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Clothes were becoming more readily available, and fashion was there even for children: three-tiered dresses with lots of material, angora boleros, pretty sandals for the girls: coloured shorts, tartan shirts and stripy T-shirts for the boys. Teenagers had even more choice, but that lay in the future for me. Almost everything, including clothing, was passed on or recycled, but people could gradually expect to have more possessions, and some could even consider buying a house instead of renting or sharing. Gardens were often beautiful, and lovingly cared for.
M W, Cheltenham UK

Born in 1943, I was a part of a number of musically-inspired changes. School uniforms that were a size or to large were our best clothes, and than along came jeans, coloured socks, Slim Jim ties clashing colours - black against white, red and blue, and that all-inspiring music. I was on my way to being a missionary, my mother would have told you, then one day I heard Little Richard, Chuck Berry and than Elvis, everything changed, without doubt the best time to have been alive.
Neil Upham, Risca Gwent.

I was at the time living in a small market town in Mid-Wales and the countryside was our playground. We made our own entertainment. My friends and I would go on bike rides along country lanes which would often take us five miles or more from home. Sometimes we would wander for miles across hillsides. We had no fear - and presumably neither did our parents. How times have changed!
Terry Phillips, Carmarthenshire

Thanks for sending in so many memories. Those which haven't made it to print this time could form part of the BBC's Memoryshare project, to be launched later this year. More details here.

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