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Introduction | About this period | Timeline | Film index
 
 
 
  

Timeline of events


1951

November 28

An informal cease-fire is agreed roughly along the approximate line of the 38th parallel in Korea

 
1952

January 29

'Rab' Butler announces his new austerity measures, including more NHS charges



February 8

Elizabeth II becomes Queen of England.  The Queen is informed of the death of her father, King George VI, whilst on safari in Kenya



July 5

Thousands of Londoners bid farewell to the city's last tram, which runs from Woolwich to New Cross



October 3

Montebello atomic tests
The first British atomic tests are held in the Montebello Islands, 120 km northwest of Dampier, Western Australia. Tests are then moved to Emu Field in northwestern South Australia



November 4

The Queen opens her first parliament



January 2

The RAF's first supersonic fighters, 400 US-designed Sabres, arrive at RAF Abingdon



 

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1953

March 5

Joseph Stalin, who ruled Russia with an iron fist for 30 years, suffers a brain haemorrhage and dies



June 2

Elizabeth II is crowned at a ceremony in Westminster Abbey



July 27

The war in Korea ends after 3 years of fighting



August 12

The Soviet Union explodes its first Hydrogen Bomb



September 3

Florence Horsburgh becomes Minister of Education, the first Tory woman cabinet minister



October

A record 30,031 new homes are built



 
1954

January 1

Flashing direction indicator lights become legal on Motor Vehicles in Britain



February 12

Study by the British Standing Advisory committee on cancer and chemotherapy officially links cancer with smoking



March 25

MPs approve the establishment of commercial television



July 27

65,000 British troops pull out of the Suez Canal Base



August 1

The UK Atomic Energy Authority is established



 

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1955

January 23

380 Jamaican immigrants are played ashore by a ship’s band as they arrived in Plymouth.  The group is the latest in a growing number seeking jobs and homes in Britain.



February 2

A four year plan to modernise Britain's roads is announced and £212 million is to be spent on constructing motorways and improving traffic black spots



April 5

At the age of 80 Winston Churchill resigns as Prime Minister and is succeeded by Sir Anthony Eden



May 14

The Warsaw pact is signed by the Soviet Prime Minister.  The pact forms all the Eastern Block Nations into a new military alliance

July 27

The Clean Air Bill is published, which would create 'smoke control areas'



September 22

Commercial television is launched for London only



December 20

Cardiff becomes the capital of Wales



 
1956

February 16

London MPs vote in favour of abolishing the death penalty



March 6

The Chairman of the British Transport Commission announces the introduction of electrified trains and the end of the steam age



July 5

The Clean Air Bill is passed



August 29

A massive build-up of British and French troops takes place in the Eastern Mediterranean, foreshadowing the possibility of military operations in Egypt



October 29

Britain and France tell Egypt and Israel to withdraw from the Suez Canal within 12 hours



November 8

The UN imposes a ceasefire on British and French forces, ordering operations in the Canal Zone to come to a halt



December 3

Egypt and France announce their withdrawal from Suez.
Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat for a white man on an bus in Alabama.  Her stand helped to motivate Martin Luther King’s protests, which brought about the 1964 Civil Rights Act



 

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1957

January 10

Harold Macmillan becomes leader of the Conservative Party and Britain's new Prime Minister, replacing Sir Anthony Eden



March 25

Six nations (France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg) sign the Treaty of Rome, setting up the European Common Market



May 15

Britain detonates it's first Hydrogen Bomb on Christmas Island, becoming the third power with thermonuclear weapons



August 6

2000 people a week are reported to be emigrating to the Commonwealth despite full employment at home



October 4

Russia launches the first satellite, the 'Sputnik-I', into space



 
1958

April

4,000 CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) protesters complete the march from Aldermaston to Trafalgar Square



May

160 square miles of countryside are to be established as several areas of outstanding natural beauty



December 3

The government announces the closure of 36 pits and cuts in open-cast mining



 

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1959

February 19

Macmillan signs treaty with Greeks and Turks for an independent Cyprus



March 30

20,000 attend CND rally in Trafalgar Square



May 7

British Rail announces plans to close 230 stations



September 14

Soviet Rocket 'Lunik 2' is the first spacecraft to hit the moon.  The rocket crashed but was the first man-made object to reach our nearest neighbour in space



October 8

Macmillan's Tory government is re-elected



November 20

Britain is the founding member of the EFTA, the seven-member European Free Trade Association to rival the Common Market

 
1960

February 3

Macmillan visits South Africa and announces from Cape Town that, 'The wind of change is blowing through this continent,' and '...there has to be justice not only for the black man in Africa but the white man'



April 18

Over 60,000 CND supporters demonstrate in Trafalgar Square after Aldermaston march



June 29

The House of Commons rejects calls to implement Wolfenden's 1957 report regarding the decriminalisation of homosexual relationships



August 31

East Germany closes its borders with West Berlin



October 1

Nigeria becomes independent



December 31

The last conscripts for National Service are drafted into the armed forces.  The scheme began in 1939 with the total number of men enlisted 5,300,000



 

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1961

January 20

On Capitol Hill John Fitzgerald Kennedy, aged 43, takes the oath and becames 35th President of the United States



March 15

South Africa withdraws from the British Commonwealth



April 12

Yuri Gagarin is the first human in space



July 31

Britain bids to join the Common Market for the first time



August 13

The East Germans begin erecting the Berlin wall, which is to divide the country for 28 years



December 4

The government makes the birth control pill available on the NHS



 
1962

February 27

MPs pass a bill to restrict immigration from the Commonwealth



April 18

Commonwealth Immigration Bill enacted: removes, from 30 June, the principle of free entry for all Commonwealth citizens



June 2

Macmillan visits President de Gaulle to discuss British entry into the European Economic Community (EEC)



July 13

Night of the Long Knives; Macmillan sacks seven members of his cabinet following unpopularity over the government's pay restraint policies



August 6

Independence of Jamaica; followed by independence of Trinidad and Tobago, 31 August



October 14

Cuban Missile Crisis begins: a U-2 flight over Cuba takes photos of Soviet nuclear weapons being installed. A standoff then ensues the next day between the United States and the Soviet Union, putting the entire world under threat of a nuclear war



November 29

Agreement to build Concorde, a supersonic aircraft



December 19

Macmillan-Kennedy conference in Nassau over British desire for independent nuclear missile

 

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1963

January 14

President de Gaulle vetoes British entry into EEC



January 21

UK Government figures show the average weekly wage is £16 14/11



March 22

"Profumo Scandal": media exaggerates importance of association between the War Minister, John Profumo and a call-girl, Christine Keeler



May 1

Churchill announces that he will retire from the House of Commons at the next election



July 16

The government proposes the creation of a Ministry of Defence



October 10

Macmillan's resignation, on health grounds, is announced. Sir Alec Douglas-Home succeeds Macmillan as Prime Minister



November 22

President Kennedy is shot dead in Dallas, Texas



December 12

Kenya gains independence

 
1964

February 6

Britain and France agree to build a Channel Tunnel



April 1

Unified Ministry of Defence is created; the Admiralty, War Office and Air Ministry cease to exist



August 7

US steps up action against Vietnam.  President Johnson receives approval from Congress to 'take all necessary action' against the Communist regime in North Vietnam



September 21

Malta becomes independent within the Commonwealth



October 15

General election won by Harold Wilson's Labour Party: Labour win 317 seats, Conservatives 304 and Liberals 9



November 9

British House of Commons votes to abolish the death penalty for murder in Britain



December 17

All prescription charges to be free from Feb 1965