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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 May 2007, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
Your 1960s: Shopping
Carnaby St, early 70s
New fashions started in Carnaby Street
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 Post Office Tower.

The 60s were also the period when the British began their long-held love affair with shopping, as supermarkets and shopping centres were built.

For many this transformed the weekly shop. But for some, there simply wasn't the money to go on a spending spree.

Here is a selection of your comments.


My 60s childhood was spent in a green leafy suburb of Cardiff that some forty years before had been a village lying outside the city boundaries, and still held some of that atmosphere. My mother did her shopping at small local retailers, and had an account at the local grocers. On Tuesdays and Saturdays she would write what groceries she wanted in a red notebook, and take this to the store where the goods would be chosen for her by the shopkeeper. No self-service here, but almost every article held behind the counter.
Andrea McCulloch
There was no fresh meat though - that was at the butchers, with fruit and vegetables bought either at the greengrocers or the city centre's Mill Lane Market. Somewhat bizarrely, it was the local greengrocer that sold the essential wet fish for Fridays. By the age of eight, on Saturdays it was my job to write the grocery list into the little notebook, walk to the shop, pay the weekly bill, and stagger home with the groceries in a wicker basket. For all that I lived in a busy, modern capital city my first visit to a supermarket was to one in Ilfracombe, Devon in 1968. How strange it was to push the wire trolley around and to hunt on shelves for what we wanted! Shortly after that, another local grocery shop became self-service. However, the Kudins family stayed loyal to "our" grocers, DJH Williams and John O'Hagan, with goods on account and those little red notebooks.
Andrea McCulloch, Now Co. Durham, then Fairwater, Cardiff

YOUR 60s MEMORIES
I remember that 2 bought a whole weeks shopping from the local corner store for a family of five. Cheese was cut off a large block with little pieces added to make up the weight. Vinegar was dispensed from a barrel and eggs were often bad! Shampoo was bought in individual sachets, either Vaseline or Lincolin, and hair washed in the kitchen sink. The loo was in the garden, and clothes were washed by hand. we had no fridge so meat was kept in a 'safe' and was often none too fresh. We listened to the Archers every evening at 6.45pm and all the family were in bed by 9pm. Frost on the inside of the windows as the only heating was one coal fire which we used to pull the sofa around to keep warm and share an orange. We had a 'pear boy' a gentleman with a horse and cart who delivered fresh fruit as this could not be bought at the corner store. All this changed when Liptons opened in Newbury and the delights of a 'supermarket' were revealed....what a revelation!
Prue Viccars, Sonning Common, Oxfordshire

I thought my cousin had gone mad when she just took things off shelves without permission - it was the first supermarket in the area - Tesco off course.
Maggie , London

Born in '64 my main memories of the 60's revolve around mince for tea, heavy "thrup'ney bits" to buy sweets and have school lessons in the "common market" and decimalization! I remember having to explain to my nana the concept of 100 pence in a pound!
Ursula Arnold, Swansea
Great times - my wage was 11 per week - mortgage 11 per month - 5 per week housekeeping, leaving 9 per month for bills etc - no going out for a pint and a fag . Hard times but looking back good time - two kids - no money - an old Standard Vanguard (costing 12.10s ) petrol 2/6d a gallon.
Ralph Francis, Lancaster

I was only six years old, but I vividly remember my threepenny bit pocket money, which bought me the Beano and some sweets or a ice lolly in the summer from little corner kiosk an an arcade at the end of the street in Wandsworth on the way back from school once a week. I remember how proud I was of my corduroy "Beatles" style jacket and cap! One birthday, I even got an old 10 shilling pink postal order, which was very impressive, as I had to go to the post office to get my money! Actually, it might have just changed to 50p that year, but that was still a fortune to a young boy at the turn of the 60s!
Alex Thurley-Ratcliff, Winchester, UK

Self-service stores were becoming popular and supermarkets were a real novelty as they sold things other than food. I remember going to Grandways in Leeds where I got my transistor radio, another new craze, a lot different to the old fashioned wireless set. When I was 17 I started driving lessons and remember friends from school asking why I wanted to learn to drive. Lady drivers were still something of a rarity in the early 60's.
Jennifer Ineson, Leeds

Plymouth's modern shopping centre, which had risen from the ashes of a wartime bomb site, was a fascinating place for a fashion-conscious 12 year old girl. For the first time, teenagers were catered for with the opening of boutiques with names like 'Way In', 'Chelsea Girl'. After shopping, I would sit in the Wimpy and have a burger, no Macdonalds then. I would then head for Woolworths and stand in a cubicle with a headset on listening to a record being played and then buying it for 4 shillings, the equivalent of 80p today. Then back home in time for tea and Dr Who.
Lorraine Martin, Cheltenham

We moved in 1959 from the wonders of inner London to the rather more sedate suburbs. No more the exotic wonders of the local markets at Brixton and East Street - The Eel Man, The rather iffy dog meat stall and the immensely tall geezer selling brown paper shopping bags. No more horse-drawn rag and bone men touring the streets. No more the lunatic experience of Saturday morning pictures; preparing children for real warfare? Now it was the High Street, the international stores - broken biscuits by the lb., Sainsburys and lining up at every counter, the thrills and spills of patting down the butter, real hardware stores, Woolworths.
Stephen Murray, Hillsborough, NJ, USA

I lived in a suburb of Cardiff as a schoolboy throughout the 60s. By the end of the decade we were one of only two families of my schoolmates that had no car, and the only one with no telephone or television. I depended entirely on cycling and public transport. The co-op milkman called daily. I remember my grandmother's co-op number to this day! A scrap/recycling merchant - I believe from Pontypridd, although he had a horse-drawn cart in the early part of the decade - would call periodically for "rags and bones" and for large items that were in the way, could be summoned (by letter!). Our shopping came mostly from small stores a few minutes' walk away, all run by family concerns. Towards the end of the decade, supermarkets were more in evidence - but they would only pass for convenience stores now. Food varieties were limited - for instance only cheddar or Caerphilly cheese until later in the decade, and most fresh food was governed by the seasons still.
Gareth Evans, Hove
On the whole, it was a good time, with freedoms that modern kids can't imagine! Sweets came in huge bottles which the shopkeeper weighed out, normally into quarter pounds (4 oz), biscuits could still be bought by weight, unwrapped. Vesta brought out "ready meals"; Beef chow mein being the main one, and pies came tinned by Fray Bentos, ready to bake when needed. No-one had freezers or microwaves. Supermarkets were just beginning, and co-existed with greengrocers, butchers and bakers' shops. Few things were available frozen, apart from Birds Eye peas - nowhere to put them. We ate more eggs and cheese meals then; meat was expensive. We always had unlimited fruit and milk, and milk was delivered daily to the door. Bread was 1/2d for a large loaf, and off-licences were happy for kids to fetch drinks for their parents. Most people smoked. Food was better, though, and no-one had heard of "additives" or "E-numbers".
Joan Mcdonough, Bedford

I left school aged 15 in 1960. I went to work at Leeds Industrial Cooperative Society in the pharmacy dept as a junior sales assistant my wage was 2 14 5d for a 40-hour week. When The Beatles came to the Leeds Odeon one of our customers queued all day to get tickets and then brought them to us in the shop. We didn't know her from Adam but trusted her with our precious money, so desperate were we to see our heroes. I got married aged 21 in 1966, we paid a 100 deposit on a 3,150 house mortgage repayments were 22 per month equal to a week's joint wage. The Sixties if you were rich must have been great but for the rest of us they were bleak.
Joyce Broadbelt, Leeds

I lived in London in the late 1960s. I remember it also as a time when the big chain stores took over the more quaint, personalized, if not quirky stores in the High Streets. I have such fond memories of the old bookshop in the King's Road, for example, where one could get excellent recommendations and guidance on choosing books, for example. Although, the quintessential 60s moment for me was overhearing a pretty young teenager in the dressing room at Biba (mod dress shop): "Well, I HAVE to do it all now because in three years I'll be 21 and it will all be over then."
Laura Miner, New York

In the early 60s I still lived in Bristol. Buses had no automatic doors. Conductors were happy to let you know when you reached your destination. Leaving your fare on a small ledge near the door if you got off before the bus conductor collected your fare. The Rutleys corner shop where my grandmother was always offered a seat whilst making her purchases. Thick blue paper for wrapping lose goods
Peter Sharf, then Bristol, now Singapore/Sri Lanka

Carnaby Street. Being taken to Biba for catsuits and jumpsuits. Biba baked beans. Liberty prints. Beetlemania. But I look at the photos and see school uniform too short.
Rebecca Pierce, Sheffield





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