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The road to riches

Stanley and Dorothy Beamont:
We really thought we'd hit the
Programme 6

UK: The golden age

Stanley and Dorothy Beaumont were both born in Batley in Yorkshire in the 1930s. Batley was a textile manufacturing town with giant mills employing most of the working population. Life was hard for the millworkers. Wages were low, working conditions bad and housing very poor.

"I was a little lad brought up as a millworker's son. I never knew anything better. I was quite happy kicking a ball about, and even though we were terribly poor we'd never known anything better. The house I grew up in had no hot water, no electric light. It was very cold, we used to freeze in winter, so we'd put an old blanket and a topcoat on the bed. We were so poor we could only afford one piece of coal per night." Stanley Beaumont

Things improved after the war. With the wider opportunities of post war Britain and a lot of hard work Stanley and Dorothy built much better lives for themselves than their parents had enjoyed. They moved into a new house with previously unheard of luxuries like heating, running hot water and a garden. They bought a car and were able to take proper holidays - something only the better off could afford before the war.

Dorothy: "We went in there and saw the bathroom, we were absolutely amazed, green tiles, hot water at the turn of a tap."

Stanley: "Gardens were the most important thing."

Dorothy: "Yes you built a greenhouse. The first thing I ever did when I went from the little house to the semi- detached house was to take Linda out onto the lawn and play ring of roses. We'd never had a garden before."

Stanley: "We really thought we'd hit the jackpot."

Dorothy: "It had a big front room. The Parnell washing machine was great. We even got a telly."

By the 1970s they were even taking holidays abroad, something only the very rich could enjoy before the Second World War. Now in retirement they live in a house in the part of town that used to home to the mill owners.

Stanley and Dorothy's lives in the post war period match those of millions throughout Britain and Western Europe. The "golden age" between 1945 and the mid 1970s not only delivered record rates of growth but spread prosperity more widely than ever before.

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