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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 June 2007, 09:29 GMT 10:29 UK
Your 1970s moments
King's Road, Chelsea
Who could forget flares?
The Magazine is compiling a people's history of modern Britain - featuring your written memories and photos. We started with the 1950s and the 1960s and now focus on the 70s.

It was the decade of strikes, electricity shortages and piles of rotting rubbish on the street.

But among the hundreds of written memories you e-mailed to us, it was clear that the industrial unrest was only one part of the story.

For many of you the decade was defined by the music and the fashion. Or childhood freedom enjoying long, hot summers on Chopper bikes and Space Hoppers.

For others, such as those comments submitted here, the 70s was about certain moments.


A memorable event of my 1970s childhood in the village of Letcombe Regis was Dutch Elm Disease. In a couple of years the landscape around our home changed, from one with towering ancient trees and hedges, to a windswept prairie of vast fields with tree skeletons.
George Lee
When you lifted the bark of the dead elms the wood beneath was tattooed with brown and white lines. My father collected enormous slices of elm in his car and split them with steel wedges. I helped saw and chop the logs, which lasted us for years. This was the first environmental disaster I ever saw, and in my mind at least, seemed to usher in an age of more ruthlessly mechanized, profit-driven agriculture. Business in general seemed to go through a similar change around the end of the 1970s.
George Lee, Vancouver, Canada (ex Letcombe, Berks)

I remember the IRA bombing two pubs in Guildford in the early 1970s. At the time I lived about 10 miles away and was only 10 years old but I recall how alarmed my parents were. Later, when I was old enough (towards the end of the 70s), I used to go to Guildford with friends and I remember actively searching out the sites of the bombing. One had been turned into a butchers but the other, the Horse & Groom in North Street, defiantly remained a pub for many years.
Caroline Jones, Godalming, UK

I remember going decimal on Feb 15, 1971 - goodbye shillings, florins, half crowns, three penny ("thruppence") bits and tanners. I remember the debate about how we were to convert the word "pence" - "nuppence (for New Pence) was discussed! I still have the government booklet on the subject, which went to every household in the land!
Mark M. Newdick, Danbury, CT, USA

I'll never forget being on the News constantly for about 24 hours with my younger sister. It was the episode when the show jumper Harvey Smith rode at Hickstead and left the arena sticking two fingers up at one of the judges. My sister and I were outside the arena and as Harvey Smith dismounted there we were with our straight long hair with centre partings and groovy clothes. I'd love to see this video again and have tried to obtain it from the BBC.
Paula Maidment, Sunbury on Thames, England

In 1970 most of us still had black and white television, and by the end we nearly all had technicolour. But clothes had gone from hippy psychedelia to punk black. My memory comes from Match of the Day, "For those of you watching in black and white, Manchester are in black."
Helen Curran, Berkeley, USA

Hi, I was living in South Wales where I was born and bred my fondest memory of the 70's was the last weekend of the summer of 76 spent sleeping ruff in Porthcawl the weather was still glorious right up until the Monday bank holiday. Drinking cider in the knights arms with the best friends in the world and dancing to Paranoid. Those were the days my friends we thought they would never end!
Terry Maggs, Brixham/UK

I will never forget a school trip to the House of Commons during the dying days of the Callaghan government. There was tremendous sense of ennui and listless, unenthusiastic talk among MPs. As a schoolboy, I sensed even then that change HAD to come. As I listened to Michael Foot's increasingly anachronistic oratorical style (he addressed anybody and everyone like a 1930s workers rally) I became more sharply aware than ever before just how third rate my country had become. Our so-called leaders could posture while the country slipped inexorably into economic and political oblivion. An era was - thankfully - passing.
Mark, Reading

I was born in 1970 but remember the heatwave summer of 1976, particularly as one hot summer afternoon I got stuck in a lift in our block of flats, with my dad and about 8 other people. The caretaker was on lunch so we ended being stuck in there for an hour, till he came back. I nearly fainted from the heat. The worst was to come though for the caretaker, because, yup you guessed it, HIS WIFE was in there with us and very very angry that his lunch came before us!!
Anna, London

I can remember spending long, hot, summer days at the beach as a tiny tot. We lived in Otley at the time, but we stayed with our family in the North East for the summer holidays. My mum and aunt used to take us all to the beach for the day if the weather was nice. I can remember having fantastic water-fights with my cousins! Having no TV for a few months back in '79 didn't bother me. However, I can imagine that a lot of people would be bothered by a similar TV strike nowadays.
LH, Tyne & Wear, UK

Two-hour, 4-pint-Guinness lunches at Wards Irish House under Piccadilly Circus, and shopping Sat mornings in the market at Northcote Rd, Clapham Junction - buying 10 pounds of potatoes, putting them in my backpack, hearing stall holder say, "I wish all these pensioners could afford to buy that many potatoes at one time."
Neil Keating, Auckland, New Zealand

I remember when I was about five, my brother coming home from college with some of the new, shiny, decimal coins which the family crowded round to look at. I had only just started doing maths problems at school the week before with 'old' money, and the teacher told us we would have to change to 'decimal money' maths problems, and did anyone have any 'new' money to show the class?
Maria Feerick, Kingsbury NW9
I married in 1970, and wanted a vacuum cleaner for my new home, I could not sign the credit agreement in my own right, I had to get my husband to sign to say that we would pay the instalments, even though I was working and earning enough to pay it myself.
Carole Black, Newbury, UK
One memory we have is one night my mother waking up in the middle of the night to an almighty bang. She woke up my father saying "a bomb just went off, a bomb, I tell you!!!". My father rolled over saying "ah it was thunder" In the morning we woke up to see it HAD been a bomb, as half of the Post Office Tower was missing!!
Anna, London

In 1972 I saw my first car race. (School trip!!) A F2 event at Oulton Park, Cheshire, Graham Hill, Ronnie Peterson, James Hunt, Niki Lauda, Jody Scheckter and John Surtees. Five World Champions in one day, two past three future. I was so inspired, and totally hooked. By 76 I had passed my test, enrolled at Jim Russell racing drivers school, and finally competed at Oulton 1979, in a Production saloon Vauxhall Chevette. Great stuff. Oh, By the way I went to the Monaco GP in 75. 80 including Flight, entry, and a grandstand seat opposite the Hotel de Paris. (Now that's a day trip!!!)
Paul M. Ellender, Leyland

OTHER 1970s MEMORIES
Where do I start? The long hot summer of 1976 (memorable principally for an unscheduled hernia operation at Dundee's new Ninewell Hospital), the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977 (we didn't have a street party, but the council's buses in Dundee all went silver), and our brand new, red, SAAB 95 with a cool extra rear-facing seat for two at the back. I was seven at the time and could make faces at the drivers behind us on long trips.
Richard, Edinburgh (formerly Dundee)

The murder of Airey Neave on the car park ramp at the House of Commons. Murdered by INLA? Or MI5/MI6? Views\theories vary. Enoch Powell laid the blame at the door of the CIA. Regardless, the murder shaped Margaret Thatcher's approach to Irish republic politics and terrorism and, it might be argued, resulted in the so-called 'shoot to kill' policy.
Tim Lewis, London

1972 we took our first foreign holiday - Corfu, with Clarksons, flying in a Comet from a small Gatwick airport - it cost 65 for two weeks full board! By 1975 we were taking three foreign holidays a year (we were both working and earning good money), we were buying our own house on a mortgage, ran a (new) car, which we changed every other year. Work was plentiful and life was pretty good.
Sheila Iles, Bristol

I describe my 70s as my school/college years! I remember being at Wembley Stadium for the League Cup Final (as it was called then) watching my team, Stoke City beating Chelsea 2.1. It was the first time in 107 years that Stoke actually won anything! Wonderful players - Gordon Banks, Tony Convoy, George Eastham. Wearing platforms for the first time as it was the fashion!
John Tsang, Stoke-on-Trent, England

Smoking John Player special on the school bus and rushing in on a Tuesday to watch the Bay City Rollers. I used to walk down the Avenue for our school bus smelling of Max Factor Blaze.
Carol A Partington, Nether Poppleton, York

In May 1970, on a first-class ticket bought by my employer, I boarded a train at Reading for South Wales. In those days the trains still had corridors and separate compartments seating about eight passengers. A large man raised his arms to bar my way through the sliding door into the first available compartment, so I sat in the next. Imagine my surprise on getting off at Cardiff to see, through the train window, that I'd been sitting back-to-back with Harold Wilson (Prime Minister), Jim Callaghan (Home Secretary)and George Thomas (Secretary of State for Wales) - all in shirt-sleeves and braces, official papers strewn on the seats, and just the one bodyguard! A month later they were out of office at the General Election. Wilson returned as Prime Minister in 1974, Callaghan inherited the job in 1976, whilst Thomas acquired a new life altogether, first as Speaker of the Commons and later as Viscount Tonypandy.
Mike Kellett, Cardiff, Wales





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