1950s and 1940s timeline

Biro 1945
Biro 1945, the UK's first ball point pen would cost £80 in today's money


  • 8 May - VE Day
  • Just after VE Day, the first ball point pens went on sale in the UK. They were branded 'Biro' after the Hungarian inventor, Lazlo Biro.
  • 26 July - the results of the general election were declared. Labour, under Clement Atlee, won a landslide. He promised reforms including setting up the NHS and nationalising many industries.
  • 15 August - VJ Day: Japan surrendered ending the Second World War.


  • 21 July - bread rationing introduced. Bread was not rationed during the War.


  • 24 July - bread rationing ended.
  • 29 July - UK television broadcasting started again. The first broadcast was the opening ceremony of the 1948 Olympic Games in London. The BBC first broadcast television in 1936, but ceased during the War.
Korean war: The Battle of the Chosin Reservoir
Korean war: The Battle of the Chosin Reservoir


  • 23 February - in the general election Labour held onto power with a majority of just five.
  • 26 May - petrol rationing ended.
  • 25 June - The Korean War began.


  • 3 May - King George VI opened the Festival of Britain on the South Bank in London.
  • 25 October - Clement Altee (Labour) called another general election. He hoped to increase his majority, but lost to Winston Churchill (Conservative) who formed the next government.
  • British spies Burgess and Maclean defected to the USSR.


  • 6 February - King George VI died.
  • 5 July - the last London tram ran from Woolwich to New Cross.
  • 14 November - The New Musical Express (NME) published the first hit singles chart.
Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay
Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay after the first ascent of Mount Everest at 11.30am on 29 May 1953 Image information


  • 29 May - Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first men to climb Everest.
  • 2 June - The Coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II.
  • 27 July - The Korean War ended.


  • 4 July - all rationing ended.
  • 6 May - Roger Bannister ran a mile in under four minutes at the Iffley Road Track in Oxford.


  • 6 April - Anthony Eden succeeded Winston Churchill as Prime Minister.
  • 22 September - Commercial television was first broadcast in the UK.
  • Jeans become fashionable in the UK.
  • 13 July - Ruth Ellis became the last woman to be hanged in the UK.
  • Mary Quant opened her first boutique, Bazaar, on the King's Road in Chelsea, London.


  • 5 November - British and French paratroopers landed along the Suez Canal.
  • Britain's first transistor radio, the Pam 710, went on sale.


  • 9 January - Anthony Eden resigned as Prime Minister and Harold Macmillan succeeded him.
  • 1 June - ERNIE (Electronic Random Number Indicating Equipment) picked the first premium bond winners.
  • 4 October - Sputnik, the first artificial satellite, launched by the USSR.
  • November - CND (The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) started.
Britain's first motorway, the Preston Bypass under construction, 1958
Britain's first motorway, the Preston Bypass, under construction, 1958


  • 1 January - The European Economic Community (EEC) was formed.
  • 29 August to 5 September - white working class youths rioted in Notting Hill. The riots were racially motivated.
  • 5 December - Prime Minister Harold Macmillan opened Britain's first stretch of motorway. It formed part of the M6. The M1 opened the following year.


  • 25 July - the first Hovercraft trip across the English Channel.
  • 26 August - BMC launched the Mini in the UK.
  • 11 October - postcodes were used for the first time.
  • 17 November - duty free drinks were first sold at UK airports.
Retrowow - vintage, retro and social history

Vintage, retro & social history

Follow us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterFollow us on Twitter
About Retrowow
Retrowow - vintage, retro and social history