Round Up 1951
Were we Happy in 1951?

By 1951 there were significant changes in Stowupland and the wider world.

Two World Wars, women’s suffrage, television, radio, the motor car, electricity for the masses, new housing, new occupations and the move away from large and extended families.

Change had come to Stowupland, although not at the same speed as in the cities.

Big Improvements

Housing had improved for some residents as new homes were built whilst others still had no electricity or running water. People began to better themselves and improve their surroundings, looking to new innovations for inspiration.

Better Working Conditions

Work was safer, the hours were shorter and there was more time for leisure activities. Holidays became more common as firms introduced paid leave.

Technology in the Home

Technology was leaping forward and gradually becoming more affordable. Everyone wanted to have the new gadgets, with the TV being the most popular when the Queen’s coronation was broadcast live in 1953.

Social Mobility

Education at this time also improved with all children having a free education until the age of 15 and beyond if they were clever enough to pass the 11+ and get into grammar school.

It was in the 1950s that children from less wealthy backgrounds began to go to university. This push in education meant that children could earn more and have a higher social standing than their parents.

Did This Make People Happier?

But we must ask if these improvements to living conditions actually made people happier or did they cause stress and disappointment when they could not have everything?

Changes in the Community

The expansion of new technologies into the home meant that people spent more time at home rather than in the community.

Traditional events such as the harvest festival and Mayday were beginning to change. The increase in agricultural mechanization and the drop in agricultural employment meant that these farming based festivals were less relevant to the majority of people in the village.

Environmental Impact

The previously stable natural environment also suffered due to the changes in the countryside in a bigger way than had ever been known before.

The increase in consumer goods, private cars and new housing in the 1950s also impacted on the environment even though they may not have realized it at the time. More CO2 was being released into the atmosphere as energy use increased.

So were they happy in 1951?
What do you think?


This exhibition is part of a wider sustainability project delivered through the Rural Museums East Partnership. It is funded by Renaissance East of England.

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