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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 May 2007, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
Your 1960s: Life at home
Slum in Birmingham
Poor housing was still evident
The Magazine is compiling a people's history of modern Britain - featuring your written memories and photos. We continue with the 1960s.

It was the decade of Suez, sexual liberation and the start of the British love affair with shopping.

But for many of you, your clearest memories are about life at home. This was a time when housing was changing fast and new towns were being built for people moving from the inner city slums.

Here is a selection of your comments.

I was born in 1953, in the mucky back-to-back suburbs of industrial Leeds, so started the 60s as a child and finished as the new phenomenon - a teenager. Most of my memories of the 60s are of change; my father died in 1961 and my mother got the princely sum of 10/- (50p) per week widow's pension, so had to take on three jobs to keep us fed and housed; my beloved primary school was demolished in the slum clearance and the lovely, cosy coal fires and kind, patient teachers gave way to a massive new school filled with strange, hostile faces.
In the late 60s we moved to a new council house which had - joy of joys - a BATHROOM and hot water; in a previous house the loo was down the street and one had to take toilet paper along on a visit, or use the old newspaper strung on a nail. Until 1969, a bath for me was either a tin bath in front of the fire or, for a treat, a real bath with hot water which cost 6d at the public swimming baths. Even in the new house there was only a coal fire for heating, so on cold mornings frost was scraped from the inside of the bedroom window, and one dressed in front of the open gas oven, turned on full for warmth.
Yvonne Bartholomew, Pego, Spain

We only had a fridge - no freezer. Ice cream was a Sunday treat, bought from the ice cream van in a waxed cardboard carton. It was then cut up into slabs. Wayfinders shoes with a compass in the heel and animal track studs/patterning on the bottom. These wore out quite quickly.
Chris Pryor, Chorley Lancs

Indoor washing lines, usually in the kitchen, with mother's bloomers hanging above your head whilst you tucked into your toasted Wonderloaf with Heinz 57 Baked Beans
Richard Thomas, Blaenafon, Gwent (formerly Monmouthshire)

My memories of growing up in the late 50s early 60s were the old tin bath, it seems incredible that not many homes had bathrooms or inside toilets for that matter. You would bathe in a tin bath filled from the kettle and saucepans, our houses had back yards not gardens and remnants of old wash houses. Black and white TV and the epilogue at the end of the evening then watching the white dot on the TV screen slowly disappear.
Jacqueline, Birmingham, England

In 1963, I was aged six. I remember moving home from a Glasgow tenement to a post-war pre-fab. The tenement was an old, scrupulously clean, room and kitchen. There was a shared toilet on the half landing below the flat. I still remember bathing in a tin bath in front of the fire. My Mum and Dad owned the tenement as there was no available council housing. The pre-fab was incredibly modern. It had two bedrooms, a living/dining room, a fitted "metal" kitchen with gas fridge and a bathroom with a hot-air linen cupboard. We also had a garden for the first time. I am the middle of three children and moving to a house at ground level gave us incredible freedom to roam and play in surrounding fields. We lived close to a canal and gradually watched this drained and turned into part of the M8 motorway! I lived in the pre-fab until 1969 and then moved to a semi detached house.
Janet Morson, Cumbernauld, near Glasgow, Scotland

I now live in a fairly large village not far from the town of Caernarfon. But in 1960, my family moved from a small farm in a small village in the Llyn Peninsula to the very isolated setting not far from the town of Cricieth. There was no electricity, no running water in the house, and my mother had just given birth to my sister (who is now 47). The farm was mixed (milking, sheep and fatstock). We had a small railway station about a mile away (until Beeching) and a taxi to carry us to school. The essential groceries were by a weekly van calling (the bread twice weekly. Other thing like milk, veg etc was homegrown. I don't remember feeling that we were losing out on anything, but mostly we had to entertain ourselves - no playground and friends were miles away.
Carys Williams, Penygroes, Caernarfon

I liked the creativity of the 60s, but it was also a time when the integrity of meaning of the family was attacked a lot. The roots of that have now grown, and we see the problem with our youth due to the lack of good fathering/mothering. Family is important, it shouldn't be messed with - and in the 60s, the idea of messing with it really came to the fore. More children in 50s had a more secure and protective upbringing, because society knew the value of family.
Alex Carlson, London

A very clear memory is the winter of 1962/63. I was still at junior school and forced to wear short trousers to school. I can still remember my sore legs. We were sent home from school on a regular basis. The snow was there from the end of December until March. It was frozen and made great slides that never thawed. It was great fun. We had no central heating at home, just one coal fire in the lounge. The bedrooms were freezing and I remember being pulled out of my warm bed to go to school.
Charles Day, Doncaster

I was born in February 1960. As a child I was brought up with very little by way of luxuries, no washing machine (mum did it by hand) no hoover just a carpet sweeper! No fridge/freezer just a pantry to keep things cool even the milkman left the milk down the side of the house to keep it cool for us! At a young age we were taught how to "set" the coal fire on our return from school... if we needed hot water before this was done then the kettle was used! I can remember all the local mothers helping and "looking out for each others kids if needed...this was helpful as my mum worked part time. Most of all we had nothing as so didn't expect to be given much, all in all we were happy!
Deb Sutton, Manchester, England

I shared a bedroom with my four younger brothers, a bit like a dormitory but in those days I didn't even know the meaning of the word. The floor was covered only in a wood-effect linoleum, there was no heating apart from a coal fire or a very unsafe and smelly oil stove. We got so cold that if we had been out of bed playing even huddling under the covers failed to warm us. Somehow the cold never affected us as we heated pennies on the top of the oil stove and made peep holes in the ice feathers on the window. As I got older it was decided I was no longer young enough to share a room with the boys and so I was moved into the best room. No one ever used that room to my knowledge. It was a lounge and smelled deliciously of wax polish and brass. The best room was not one that we children were allowed to go into and I crept into my bed in the corner in total awe and wonder of all the treasures that were kept in there.
Marie Fullerton, Gosport UK

There was no central heating, a coal fire and two paraffin heaters, one in my bedroom and one in the bathroom. More often than not, I would wake up with frost on the inside of bedroom window! My brother had the best bedroom it was at the back of house, it got all the sun and he had the immersion and airing cupboard as well! My cousins came over from Northern Ireland, and they stayed with us whilst their house was being built. The summers were long and glorious, so no-one wanted come in to bed.
Louise Percival, Wilmslow UK

Growing up with the Beatles. Listening to the "Top 20" on a Sunday evening while my Dad recorded the show on his brand new reel-to-reel Grundig tape recorder. Installing the new-fangled central heating system that did away with the need for the coal man and the filthy coal bunkers outside the back door. They were great times!
David Asher, Los Angeles, California, USA

Being proficient with a hoola hoop, dancing a pretty mean 'Twist' on holiday at Butlins, building an igloo in our garden during the 'Big Freeze' of winter '63/'64, living in a cold house with ice patterns on the inside of windows during winter, a complete lack of need for home security, playing footy in the street and rarely having to stop for passing cars, travelling by car being a rare treat - instead usually walking everywhere, coal fires being replaced by gas ones, shopping at our local corner shop where women would go for a 'chinwag', pre-ordering hot cross buns and ONLY eating them on Good Friday, Birds Eye fish fingers, Spangles, Rowntree's Fruit Gums for 3d, Fry's Chocolate Creme bars for 6d, kali and jubblees from the local sweet shop.
Paul Cobb, 53, Rowley Regis, West Midlands

Bottles of water that were filled from the tap. Loads of snow in the winter. Balaclavas. Washing in a tin bath in front of the fire. Paraffin lamps in the outside loo to stop the pipes freezing. Free plastic washing up bowls with washing powder. Jublees. Doctor Who in black and white. Wrestling on TV on Saturday afternoons. Motor bike scrambling on Sunday dinner times. Snake belts.
Brian Nelson, Sheffield

I was 7 in 1960s so the 60s are my school years. Everything was relatively new; a post war council house heated by a district boilerhouse, a brand new primary school, a shared-line telephone, a TV fed by tanners!, even a new prime minister replacing a right set of fossils, pop music, decent football, the space race. But with some hangovers; buying smog masks every winter, milk delivered by horse and cart, school dinner time regulated by factory hooters.
Ged Parker, Washington, Tyne & Wear

In Swansea, the buildings that had caught the blitz of WW11 had mostly been rebuilt, they stood out, these modern sore thumbs, looked artificial against the pre-war structures which the bombs had missed. These old character-buildings became less and less as a full facelift began to take shape. This new architecture popped up like mushrooms, and soon, Dylan Thomas' "ugly, lovely town" would become plain ugly. The pubs with sawdust on their floors were close to death. The Orange Tree: first to be felled by the modern axe. The Cuba and Ike's Bar: soon to suffer the same fate.
Esmond Jones, Swansea, Wales

In 1960 I was nine years old, we lived in a pit terrace, two-up two-down. Despite nine children the front room was rarely used only for special occasions, we children all slept in one bedroom mostly two to a bed. I never felt deprived, in fact I had a brilliant, happy and secure childhood. A lot of time was spent in the allotment feeding the chickens and cutting rhubarb for Sunday pudding. No-one ever locked their doors even when out.
Tim McMahon, Pennar/Wales(born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne)

Born in 1957, I remember the 60s as my childhood years, living on a 50's built council estate in Swindon. The great winter of 63 where my flat roofed single story school disappeared under the biggest snow drift I have ever seen. The paraffin heaters trying to keep the house warm, the daily visits by the vans that sold everything from bread, meat, pop, etc and standing on the station as the steam engine pulled train came in. I think the main memory would be family Christmas. They had a standard format, church, visit the neighbours, Christmas lunch (with the children washing up), Queen's speech, relatives round for tea, games in the evening. Somehow things don't seam the same anymore, I liked the 60s
Steve Roberts, Abingdon, Oxfordshire

I was born in 1944. Left school on my 15th birthday so would have been working for about 5 months. As an apprentice my pay was 2.50 a week. I had to give my mother $1.50 (for my keep). In those days you did not pay income tax until you were 18.Living in a village you tended to know everybody and everybody helped everybody else. You could leave your doors unlocked and all that happened was that next door would put your milk in the pantry if you were out and the weather was hot. No thieving. No trouble just community spirit. It wasn't called that in those days just neighbourliness
Roy Downton, Milford Stafford Staffordshire

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