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What happened in 1970s? - UK

What happened in the 1970s UK
What happened in the 1970s UK? Space Hopper, Ted Heath (Prime Minister 1970-4), the Bay City Rollers and Ford Cortina 2000E
The Ted Heath and Bay City Rollers images are public domain, sourced from Wikimedia Commons

We look at events, new products, film, music and fashion from 1970s in the UK.

In the news

Facts

The Ford Cortina was the best selling UK car of the 1970s
The Ford Cortina was the best-selling UK car of the 1970s

For more information see How much did things cost in the 1970s?

Films

John Travolta in 1976
John Travolta starred in two of the most highly-attended films in UK cinemas in the 1970s. Grease and Saturday Night Fever
ABC Television Network., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The top films by cinema attendance in the UK were:

Derived from The Ultimate Chart compiled by the British Film Institute (BFI) retrieved from WayBackMachine

Television

The most-watched television programmes or televised events of the 1970s in each year were:

Source: Retrieved from Britain's Most Watched TV - the 1970s

Music

Bay City Rollers 1976
The Bay City Rollers wearing clogs at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam, Holland. The Bay City Rollers had the best-selling record of 1975 Rob Bogaerts (ANEFO), CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The best-selling pop records of 1970s were:

Source: UK Top 100 Singles by Paul Gambaccini, Tim Rice and Jonathan Rice, published by Guinness in 1993

Royal news

Street party celebrating Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee in 1977
Street party celebrating Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee in 1977
Chris Mitchell, CC BY-SA 4.0 Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0), via Wikimedia Commons

1977 was the year of Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee. It was an occasion for celebration in the UK. There were street parties throughout the country. Many companies launched Silver Jubilee products and there was a commemorative crown, worth 25p struck to celebrate.

The other notable Royal events were the Queen and Prince Philip's Silver wedding in 1972 and the marriage of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips in 1973.

Sport

Football - FA Cup winners

Horse racing

Red Rum set a new record by winning the Grand National three times in 1973, 1974 and 1977

Olympics

I grew up thinking that Britain wasn't much good at sport. The UK fared less well in the Olympic Games than they do today. The UK team won four golds at Munich in 1972 and only three at Montreal in 1976.

1972 UK Gold medals

1976 UK Gold medals

Fashion news

Most people think of flares as the fashion of the 1970s. They were only high fashion from 1972 to the mid-seventies. Flared trousers became mainstream after that.

Mini skirts were still in at the beginning of the decade, but did not make it past the early years. Hot pants came and went. As did maxi skirts and platform soles.

The most enduring fashion was for denim, whether it was jeans, jackets, skirts or even bathing wear.

Read more about 70s fashion

Toys

Space Hopper, 1970s
The Space Hopper is one of the toys most associated with the 1970s. It was launched in 1968.

The Toy of the Year for each year in the 1970s was:

Other popular toys of the 1970s included Action Man the first action figure. Action Man was launched in the 1966, but really came into its own in the 1970s with a huge range of outfits and accessories.

The Space Hopper was the toy most associated with the 1970s, but it was also launched in the 1960s.

The 1970s was also the era when every boy and quite few girls wanted a Raleigh Chopper.

Products

Texas TI-2500 Datamath (1972) and Casio Mini Card LC-78S (1978)
Texas TI-2500 Datamath (1972) and Casio Mini Card LC-78S (1978). Technology shrunk in size and price in the 1970s

The 1970s gave people their first taste of technology. Pocket calculators and digital watches first went on sale in the 1970s. By the end of the decade, they were cheap enough for most people.

Most people had a television at the start of the 1970s, but it was probably black and white. Colour TVs became cheaper throughout the decade and were much more common by the end of the 1970s. However, they were by no means universal.

At the beginning of the 1970s only 70% of households had a fridge. By the end of the 1970s 92% had one.

Washing machines were less common. Only 65% of households had one in 1970. By 1979 the figure was 80%. Some people preferred the company and atmosphere at the late-night launderette.

It was only by the middle of the 1970s that more households had a telephone than did not. Even in 1979 only just over half of households had a family car.

A freezer was a luxury. Only 7% of households had one in 1973.

Read more 70s high tech household

References

More on the 1970s

More on the 1970s

By Steven Braggs, September 2021

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Retrowow - vintage, retro and social history

Mid Century ★ Facts & Figures ★ Collectibles

Retrowow - vintage, retro and social history

★ Mid Century ★ Facts & Figures ★ Collectibles ★