86. External Events

Significant Royal Events

There were several significant royal events during this period, including a number of royal weddings.

Princess Margaret’s Wedding

In May 1960, Queen Elizabeth II’s sister, Princess Margaret married Antony Armstrong-Jones. This was the first royal wedding to be televised, see Chapter 84.  The wedding took place in Westminster Abbey. Princess Margaret was given away by the Duke of Edinburgh and had eight bridesmaids including Princess Anne. The service was led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher. 

Booklet featuring the wedding of Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones

Duke of Kent’s Wedding

The Duke of Kent married Katharine Worsley at York Minster in June 1961. The Duke of Kent is Queen Elizabeth II’s first cousin as his father was the younger brother of George VI.  

Booklet featuring the wedding of the Duke of Kent and Katherine Worsley

Princess Alexandra’s Wedding

The wedding of Princess Alexandra and Angus Ogilvy took place in Westminster Abbey in April 1963. Princess Alexandra is also Queen Elizabeth II’s cousin and is sister to the Duke of Kent.

Booklet featuring the wedding of Princess Alexandra and Angus Ogilvy

Royal Births

Prince Andrew and Prince Edward

The diaries recorded a number of royal births during this period. These included Queen Elizabeth II’s third and fourth child, Prince Andrew, born on 19 February 1960 and Prince Edward, born on 10 March 1964. Perhaps of interest is that neither grandad nor mum recorded the births of Queen Elizabeth II’s first two children in their diaries, Prince Charles in November 1948 and Princess Anne in August 1950. However, mum did have a scrapbook with extensive material about Princess Elizabeth’s wedding and the subsequent birth of Prince Charles, see Chapter 45. The notes of Andrew’s and Edward’s births were in grandad’s diaries.

David Armstrong- Jones

Another royal birth recorded in the diaries during this period was that of Princess Margaret’s son, David Armstrong-Jones, in November 1961. Interestingly, the birth of his sister, Sarah Armstrong-Jones in May 1964 is not mentioned in either diary.

James Ogilvy

The birth of Princess Alexandra’s son, James Ogilvy, in February 1964, was noted in the diaries. However, no mention is made in the diaries of the birth of the Duke of Kent’s children, for example.

Trooping of the Colour

.[3]  Mum noted the Trooping of the Colour in both 1961 and 1962, see Chapter 84.

Major World Events

A number of major world events that happened during this period made it into grandad’s diary.

Cuban Missile Crisis

These included the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962. Grandad noted that, on 23 October 1962, President Kennedy put a blockade on ships going to Cuba as the USA asserted the right to verify that they were not carrying arms. The blockade started at 3pm on 24 October.  

Photo from the Everett collection and licenced for re-use from Shutterstock

Rejection of Britain’s Application to Join the Common Market

Another major new story covered in grandad’s diary was the rejection of Britain’s application to join the Common Market. It was vetoed by France.

In 1963, Charles de Gaulle used the French veto to prevent the UK’s entry into the Common Market © Bundesarchiv, B145 Bild-F015892-0010 and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

President Kennedy’s Assassination

Perhaps the biggest news story during this period was the assassination and subsequent funeral of President Kennedy in November 1963. On 22 November 1963, grandad noted that President Kennedy had been shot and killed in Dallas, Texas. The assassin fired three shots. This happened about 7pm British time and the news was on television about 7.15 to 7.30. President Kennedy’s funeral was broadcast on 25 November 1963. Grandma and grandad watched part of it, see Chapter 84.

Presidential cavalcade moments before President Kennedy was shot – photo licensed for re-use from Alamy

Change of Labour Leader

In terms of domestic politics, one of the things grandad noted was the sudden death of the Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell in the Middlesex Hospital. He was succeeded by Harold Wilson.

Photos of Hugh Gaitskell (left) and Harold Wilson (right) – photos from the National Portrait Gallery that are both in the public domain

1964 General Election

On 15 October 1964, there was a general election. Grandad noted that a man called from Norwich to take both him and grandma to vote and that their votes were based at Lilburne Avenue, which was in Norwich North constituency.

Norwich North

Grandad did not note the constituency result. The constituency was only established in 1950 and until 1983 always voted Labour. Subsequent MPs for this seat included David Ennals and Ian Gibson. Currently, the seat is held by Conservative Chloe Smith having first won it in a by-election in 2009. In this election, a new Labour candidate, George Wallace was elected as John Paton, the sitting MP, did not stand for re-election.

George Wallace

George Wallace was MP for Chislehurst from 1945 to 1950. He then served as Norwich North MP from 1964 to 1974. He won this seat, in a two-way race with the Conservative candidate, Amédée Turner, with 61% of the vote.

John Paton

John Paton served as a Norwich MP from 1945 to 1964 when he was aged 78. Initially, he was one of the MPs for a two-seat Norwich constituency and, from 1950, represented Norwich North. 

Overall Results

Grandad did record the overall results across the country namely 304 seats for the Conservatives, 317 for Labour and nine for the Liberals.

Results Televised

He also noted that the results were shown on television on the afternoon of the 16th with the final results available on the 17th.

Opening of Parliament

On 3 November 1964, the queen opened the new parliament.


On 11 November 1964, the Chancellor, James Callaghan, issued a new budget. While some of the main changes in that related to corporation tax and capital gains tax, grandad’s main interest was that, from the following April, the pension for a married couple was to be raised to £6 10s per week.

Increasing pensions and abolishing prescription charges were key elements of Labour’s election manifesto. These were both actioned in the budget although prescription charges were reintroduced in 1968.

Sunday Cinema Opening

In March 1961, there was a local vote in Kirkby on whether cinemas should be allowed to open on Sundays, see Chapter 79.

Local Elections

In April 1961, grandad noted that there was a vote for County councillors and, in May 1962, for parish and rural district councillors. One of grandad’s main interests in local government was the amount of rates they charged. In March 1963, the amount of rates they were paying on the house in Kirkby more than doubled from £32 to £76. Grandad’s note on this is a little hard to follow. It says “Kirkby’s new rate was in the paper old assessment 21/10 new 8/10 our house Old A was £32 New A was £76”.

Engaging with the News

The way grandad engaged with the news changed over this period. He referred more to seeing news on television although he did continue to read a newspaper, the Daily Mail. He was also an avid reader of the Notts Free Press and there are many cuttings from this among mum’s papers. Apparently, this was established in Sutton in 1886 and appears to have operated until the 1980s.

Advert for the Notts Free Press in the Kirkby Directory 1969. It features the three-sided clock located at Four Lane Ends in Kirkby

In February 1964, when grandma and grandad were living in Norwich, grandma made a trip to Mansfield and she sent him a letter and a copy of the Free Press. However, all he received was the wrapper that had been put around the Free Press and both the paper and the accompanying letter were lost!

Erratic Postal Services

Grandad was concerned that postal services were erratic in July 1964 and he blamed the postmen’s claim for a rise in wages for this. However, the day after he noted this, he noted that the threatened strike was settled. It appears that in addition to a strike, the postal workers were using go slow tactics and these were causing disruption.

National Census

There was a national census in April 1961 and grandad noted completing the form. Apparently, this census was the first to ask about qualifications, migration status and household tenure, and it was also the first to use a computer.   

New Motorway Round Doncaster

In July 1961, grandad noted that Mr Marples opened the new motorway round Doncaster. Mr Marples was Minister of Transport from 1959 to 1964. He had formally opened the M1 in 1959, see Chapter 73. This road was the first part of the A1(M).

Grandma and grandad used it on 2 August to visit grandma’s cousin Annie who was visiting her daughter Doreen. 

New Forth Road Bridge

Grandad also noted, in September 1964, that Queen Elizabeth II opened the new Forth road bridge which had been built at a cost of £20m.

The Forth bridge under construction in 1962 © Alan Findlay and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
The Forth bridge nearing completion in  1964 © M J Richardson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Postcard of Queen Elizabeth II opening the Forth bridge in 1964

Grandad was More Focused on Roads than Railways

While grandad’s diary did note developments of the road network during this period, it did not make any note of the Beeching reports which led to massive reductions in the railway network, including the closure of Kirkby’s three railway stations, see Chapter 63.

Rail Accident

What mention he did make of railways was limited to two things. First, he documented an accident which occurred in Kirkby in February 1962. According to grandad, a railway engine weighing 112 tons bumped into a stationary one weighing 88 tons and pushed it through the buffer stop through onto Southwell Road on the Summit crossing.

I have not managed to find any report of this incident. It seems such incidents were not uncommon and, in the absence of casualties, merited relatively little news coverage. I am also not quite sure of the geography. Currently, Southwell Lane crosses the railway by means of a bridge but it seems that there were a number of crossings to the east of this.

Map from 1950 official guide showing railways crossing Southwell Road

Great Train Robbery

Secondly, in August 1963, grandad noted that there had been a train robbery and that a mail train, from Glasgow to London, had been robbed and £2½m had been stolen. This became known as The Great Train Robbery. My father never approved of the level of celebrity afforded the robbers, particularly Ronnie Biggs. It seems the scale and audacity of the robbery caught public imagination but dad always pointed out that the driver, Jack Mills, was seriously hurt and was unable to work again.

Bridego Bridge in 1963 – this is where a lorry waited to catch mail bags stolen in the Great Train Robbery – photo licensed for re-use from Alamy

Events Related to Television

Grandad noted a number of events during this period that related directly to television, see Chapter 84. Events he noted included disruption of programmes by industrial action and the first broadcast by satellite.

Death of Gilbert Harding

In November 1960, he recorded that the TV celebrity Gilbert Harding[2] had suddenly died. Gilbert Harding was known for his involvement in television programmes such as “Twenty Questions” and “What’s my Line?” He collapsed outside Broadcasting House as he was about to get into a taxi. The cause of death was an asthma attack. He was 53 years old.

Gilbert Harding opening mail in October 1960 – image licensed for re-use from Alamy

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

In December 1960, grandma, perhaps surprisingly, given her staunch Methodist views, bought grandad the book “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” from Reg Edwards for 3/6. A few weeks earlier there had been a court case about the book which the publisher won.

1960 Penguin version of Lady Chatterley’s Lover

This well-known book was first published in Italy in 1928 and in France in 1929 but was only published in full in the UK in 1960. It was subject to an obscenity trial which the publisher won. Having not read the book, I had not realised that it was set in Nottinghamshire, which would have been of interest to grandad. On reflection, it says something about grandma and grandad that he wanted to read the book and she was willing to get it for him.

This book merits a chapter (5) in Jonathan Evans book of short stories about growing up in Kirkby, The Mystery of Ernie Taylor’s Abdomen. Essentially, it revolves around a group of teenage boys reading aloud together selected extracts from the book and one of the boys resolving that he could write something better.

Noting the Weather

Grandad often recorded details of the weather so it is unsurprising that he noted a number of extreme weather events during this period. Mum did so to a lesser extent, sometimes when it affected her directly. For example, just after we had moved to Norwich, in August 1960, mum had started to take Tricia and me to Tuckswood clinic but we were stopped by a heavy thunderstorm. According to the television, more than one inch of rain fell in an hour.

Apparently, that August was very wet and thundery but relatively cool. On the 18th itself, a 1,000ft waterspout was recorded off the coast of the Isle of Sheppey. While grandad did not note these storms in particular, he did note that, in October 1960, there had been heavy rain all over the country. Horncastle in Lincolnshire had been flooded as had parts of Devon. There is an account of that day in Horncastle on the Grimsby Telegraph website.

Flooding in 1960 © Eileen Eastwood and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

More Flooding in December 1960

In December 1960, there were again bad floods all over the country. The river Erewash broke a bridge near Attenborough. I have not found specific details of this incident. Websites about the village do discuss risk of flooding but mainly focus on floods which occurred in 2006.

The River Erewash

This river rises in Kirkby and flows south more or less along the border between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, joining the Trent at Attenborough nature reserve south-west of Nottingham. 

Wet and Windy in January 1962

On 11 January 1962, grandad noted that it had been very wet and windy during the night and a lot of damage had been caused through the country.

Weather Damage in February 1962

On 12 February 1962, grandad noted that the weather had been very rough and that much damage had been caused in the Midlands. This is mentioned briefly on ChrisHobbs.com.

On the 15th, grandad noted that overnight (Thursday to Friday) there had been a hurricane reaching 177 miles per hour on Shetland.

There had been most damage in Sheffield where a number of people had been killed, 60 injured and 400 made homeless. According to the Yorkshire Post, those killed included Jack Johnson, Shirley Hill, Ida Stubbs and Beryl Dickinson. A fourth person, Edward Wadsworth, died of his injuries a few days later. Of the city’s houses, 70,000 had been damaged.

The next day, grandad noted that 75,000 homes had been damaged with the costs running to £3m with 11 people having been killed. I am not sure where grandad got this figure from but it seems more were killed than just those in Sheffield. For example, a report in the Yorkshire Post noted at least eight deaths. A report in the London Illustrated News on 24 February 1962 noted that four people had been killed in Sheffield, all by falling chimneys, with a further eight killed elsewhere.

Photographs from a news cutting taken from the London Illustrated Post in February 1962 showing the damage caused in Sheffield by the gale.
The vicarage where Shirley Hill was killed by a falling chimney
Bramall Lane where a floodlight collapsed 24 hours before Sheffield United’s scheduled fifth round FA Cup clash with Norwich City. The game went ahead with Sheffield United winning 3-1
House split in half by the gale
A man retrieving belongings from his damaged house

Flooding in December 1964

Grandad also noted that, on 13 December 1964, there had been very bad floods in parts of Britain. These parts include Newtown in Wales and Shrewsbury. In addition, the Hampton Loade Ferry in Shropshire sank during the storm and flooding.

Flooding in Shrewsbury in 1964 – image licensed for re-use from Alamy

Extremes in Temperature

Both grandad and mum also sometimes noted extremes in temperature.

Change from Fahrenheit to Celsius

In January 1962, grandad noted that the weather department started giving the weather report in degrees Celsius not Fahrenheit.

According to Metric Views, the Met Office gave the temperature in both Celsius and Fahrenheit with Celsius being used as the primary measure from October 1962. The difference between these scales is explained on this website. Essentially, to convert from Fahrenheit to Celsius, you need to subtract 32 and then multiply by 5/9.

Very Hot in June to August 1961

On 30 June 1961, mum noted that it was very hot and grandad commented that it had been the hottest day in Britain for nearly four years and that it had been 88°F near London. This temperature (31°C) was recorded in Abingdon.

On 1 July, grandad noted that it was very hot and was the hottest day in London for 14 years, reaching 95°F at the Wimbledon tennis championships. It appears that, on that date, temperatures of 33.9°C (93°F) were recorded in several locations of the South-East

Grandad noted that, according to the Daily Mail, 29 August 1961, had been the hottest August day for 68 years. It was 87°F in London and 83°F in Edinburgh. Apparently, temperatures of 32°C (90°F) were recorded in the south of England.

Hot in July 1963

Grandad noted that 30 July 1963 was the hottest day for two years.

Cold in December 1961

On 7 December 1961, it was very cold and grandad noted that it had been the coldest night since February 1960. According to grandad, the year 1961 had the coldest Christmas Day since 1942 and the next coldest this century. On New Year’s Eve, grandad noted that it had been the coldest Christmas week for years.

Winter of 1962/63

However, all this was eclipsed by the winter of 1962/63. In his book “The Mystery of Ernie Taylor’s Abdomen” Jonathan Evans describes it (p63) as a “mini ice age”.

On 29 December 1962, grandad noted that it was very cold and there had been a snow blizzard in the South from Saturday to Sunday night, for example in Dorset and Portsmouth. The next day was very cold and there were three to four inches of snow. On 9 January 1963, grandad noted that it was very cold and that it had been the worst winter in some parts of the country for years. On the 20th, it was very cold and part of the Rhine river was reported to have frozen, also the Thames and the Severn in the UK. On the 24th, hegrandadnoted that it was very cold in his cabin, -4°C or around 24°F. Some street mains in Kirkby froze.  On 1 February 1963, grandad noted that January 1963 had been the coldest in London for 125 years. On the 5th, he noted that the weather was worse to the west with trains and dozens of cars stranded.

News cutting of cycling on a frozen River Thames

Coldest Easter

On 20 March 1964, grandad noted that it was the coldest Easter Sunday for 81 years.


Other weather that grandad noted included severe fog in December 1961. This meant that grandma had to come home early from distributing Christmas presents. Grandad noted that it had been foggy across all the Midlands.

On 21 January 1964, grandad noted that it was foggy nearly all over the country although it was not too bad where they were. The conditions led to a 65-car collision on the M1 near London and questions were asked in parliament.

Partial Solar Eclipse

Another natural event that mum saw and recorded was a partial solar eclipse in February 1961. One interesting point about this eclipse was that the crucifixion scene of the 1961 film “Barabbas” was shot during this eclipse. 

Football Disrupted

One of the consequences of the very cold winter of 1962/63 was that the football season was severely disrupted with many games being postponed and the season being extended by four weeks.

In his book “The Mystery of Ernie Taylor’S Abdomen” Jonathan Evans has a chapter (pp59-68) which focuses on his efforts to get to the rearranged FA Cup tie between Nottingham Forest and Wolverhampton Wanderers. These efforts mainly consisted of guessing answers to a maths test so that he could be finished quickly.

The BBC website has an article looking at other times the football season has been disrupted, see. One of the lasting effects of the disruption was the introduction of the Pools Panel. Another innovation is that under-soil heating is installed in many football grounds to prevent frozen pitches, although bad weather can cause games to be cancelled for other reasons, e.g. fan safety. The first English club to do this were Everton

In January 1963, grandad noted that the cold weather had affected football matches and that it had been the worst season since the FA was founded. Only a few matches could be played. On the 19th, grandad noted that more than 40 league football matches could not be played because of the cold weather. On 2 February 1963, only four matches could be played. On Boxing Day 1964, grandad noted that one or two football matches were postponed because of the cold weather.

Football Disrupted by Rain

On 14 March 1964, grandad noted that several football matches were postponed because of heavy rain.  One of the games that went ahead was the FA Cup semi-final between West Ham and Manchester United despite very bad conditions.

Major Sporting Events

The Boat Race

In terms of major sporting events during this period, mum noted watching the boat race on television most years, see Chapter 84. Over the five-year period, Oxford won twice (1960 and 1963) and Cambridge won three times (1961, 1962 and 1964). The1960 race was attended by Princess Margaret. Apparently, Antony Armstrong-Jones coxed for Cambridge in 1950. In 1961, mum noted that the number six in the Oxford crew seemed very tired and did not row well. In 1962, the race was again attended by Princess Margaret. There was also a fairly sedate “ban the bomb” demonstration. In 1964, the video of the race featured Lord Snowdon and swans.  

In 1961, mum watched  with Tricia and me and Barbara and Sharon Rowe. In 1962, both mum and grandad noted watching, grandad with grandma.


Mum noted watching some of the 1960 Rome Olympics on television, see Chapter 84, but did not make mention of the Tokyo games in 1964.

Grand National

In March 1962, mum watched the Grand National on television.

News cutting of the 1962 Grand National. The eventual winner, Kilmore, jumps the last first

Sports as a Social Activity

Family members sometimes took part in sports events as a social activity.

Horse Jumping at Bentinck Showground

For example, in June 1962, grandma, Eva, Jim, Renie and Florrie Booth went to Bentinck showground to see horse jumping. 

Dad Played Table Tennis and Cricket

Dad played table tennis in April 1960 and cricket, at Pinebanks, see Chapter 81, in June 1963.

Watching Football


Dad was not a fanatical football fan but he was interested and, on 1 April 1961, he attended a football match with Ron Rowe in Norwich. Assuming they went to see Norwich City, they played Derby and lost 2-0 which put paid to any hopes Norwich might have had of promotion that year. Norwich finished 4th in Division 2 that season behind Ipswich, Sheffield Utd and Liverpool.

Front cover of programme for Norwich City game dad went to see with Ron Rowe in April 1961
Second Division league table from programme for Norwich City game dad went to see with Ron Rowe in April 1961
Team line-ups from programme for Norwich City game dad went to see with Ron Rowe in April 1961

Tom Wilson

The only other occasion when mention is made of someone possibly watching Norwich City during this period was in October 1964 when Tom Wilson went to find Norwich’s football ground and he booked a seat for the afternoon match. This cost him eight shillings.

The match was against Newcastle United and was a 1-1 draw. That season, Newcastle United won the second division title and, perhaps surprisingly, Northampton Town finished second and were promoted. Norwich finished sixth behind Bolton Wanderers, Southampton and Ipswich.

Front cover of programme for Norwich City game Tom went to see in October 1964
Team line-ups from programme for Norwich City game Tom went to see in October 1964
Second Division league table from programme for Norwich City game Tom went to see in October 1964


Grandad did not really follow football but he did note seeing part of a football match on the park, behind our house in Hellesdon, in September 1961. I recall football being played there and I believe it still is.

In May 1964, grandad noted the result of the FA Cup Final with West Ham beating Preston 3-2.

Front cover of 1964 FA Cup Final programme
Details of West Ham team from 1964 FA Cup Final programme

Local Kirkby News

Three-Sided Clock

In terms of more local news, in April 1960, a three-sided clock was unveiled at the Four Lane Ends crossroads in Kirkby. According to grandad, the owners of the Nags Head gave the piece of land, Kirkby Urban and District Council supplied the plinth and Kirkby in Ashfield Chamber of Trade bought the clock.

The clock is still there and can be seen on Google StreetView but it was absent from 2013 to 2018 and was restored following a petition from Kirkby Heritage Centre.  I have collated material about this clock here.

Three-sided clock outside the Nag’s Head in 2020 – image licensed for re-use from Alamy

Christmas Tree

In 1961 and 1962, grandad noted when the town’s Christmas tree was lit. This was on 8 December in 1961 and on 14 December in 1962. In 1961, he noted that it was on the forecourt of Trinity church.

Levelling the Rec

In March 1961, grandad noted men doing work to level the rec. This is a reference to Morven Park which is between Welbeck Street and School Street. Apparently, it was also called “the bombhole” in the 1950s because of a large crater and I wonder if this was what was being levelled.? Also, in April 1948, mum referred to going to the wakes “on rec”, see Chapter 40, but I thought the wakes were in Pond Street.