OTLEY AND DISTRICT MEN’S FORUM

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  Life in the 1950’s
Mr Ian Dewhirst MBE

Wonderful: the first word our Chairman spoke at the end of this week’s presentation aptly described Ian Dewhirst’s energetic and animated talk about the 1950’s.

 A worthy recipient of the MBE, Ian is also a superb entertainer and a noted historian. On this visit he humorously and seriously told us about life in the 50’s. We had wars in Suez , Korea , Kenya , Aden , and Malaysia . War time Identity Cards were with us until 1952 and Ration Books until 1955.  Pig food bins were still to seen at the bottom of gardens and on street corners.

In 1955 the population of Keighley was 54,230 with 220 unemployed. There were also thirty Public Conveniences compared to two at present. This begs the question, has human biology changed ?

On 8th June 1953 our Queen was crowned and Ian celebrated with a lunch of mashed potatoes and cornflakes before going on a rain soaked procession.  On Sundays he went to Sunday School and the Church Youth Club as did many others of his generation. They also listened to lots of pop music, Maurice Chevalier sang Thank Heaven for Little Girls and did not receive a summons and in 1957 there was a Buddy Holly hit“Peggy Sue”. With television in its infancy entertainment was found in the cinema and the dance hall along with concert parties in church and civic halls. Keighley supported six cinemas and numerous big bands playing swinging music for ballroom dancing.

Most young men did National Service and in 1959 medical officers warned of the relationship between smoking and lung cancer.

In 1952 total immigration was 93,000, a lot less than today.  Timothy Taylor’s was well advertised as was Bovril, both deemed to provide pleasure and sustenance for hard working people.  


In the Main Hall of Otley Civic Centre at 10-00am on Thursday 20th November to the delight of film fans we will hear about Mr C Roberts meeting Hollywood Stars of Yesteryear.

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