Then and now: changes through the years

Life in the 1950s, 60s and 70s can sometimes feel very different than the way we live today.

Little by little, small changes in everything from popular culture to the cost of living contribute to big differences over time.

Today we’re looking back at how we lived then and comparing it with how we live now. How else do you think life has changed?

Average house price

The cost of living has increased dramatically through the decades

House prices are one of the simplest ways we can look at the cost of living, and there is much talk in the press about how unaffordable housing has become. Here’s a look at the average house price in the UK by decade:

• 1950s – £1,891

• 1960s – £3,620

• 1970s – £4,975

• 1985 – £39,500

• 2017 – £226,367

Food and eating

prawn cocktail

• In 1970 the average loaf of bread cost 9p. In 1982, a white loaf averaged around 37p. Today, a white loaf costs an average of £1.05

• Dinner party dishes give an insight into what was popular in food by decade. In the 1950s, Pimento-stuffed olives were the height of fashion. While in the 1960s, a Baked Alaska was a real showstopper. In the 1970s prawn cocktail was commonly served to guests as the starter of choice, while in the 1980s vol-au-vents rose in popularity, as did many other dishes inspired by French cuisine. Today one of the most popular food trends is not the food itself but what its served in: deconstructed dishes and individual portions of desserts served in mason jars and starters served on cutting boards is considered fashionable.


The Mini 1960

• The Mini was first launched in 1960 and sold for £600.

• The Range Rover was launched in 1970 at the cost of £1998. In contrast, 2017 the Range Rover Evoque starts at £30,000.


The way we listen to music

• In 1970 a trip to the cinema cost less than 90p. In 2017 the average cost of a cinema ticket is around £10.

• A pint of lager cost just 20p in 1970. In 1982, the average cost of a pint was 73p. Today the average cost of a pint tops £3.

• In 1970, households had just three colour TV channels; BBC1, BBC2 and ITV. Today Freeview viewers enjoy upwards of 27 channels – all in colour.

• The cassette tape was introduced in 1963 and steadily grew in popularity in the 1970s and 80s. The Compact Disk – or CD – was introduced in the late 1970s and by early 1990s outsold the cassette format. Progress continued; with the introduction of the MP3 in the mid-200s, people quickly adopted the digital format instead.

Interior design

1960s interior style

• How we decorated our homes tells a vivid story about trends through the years. More than four million homes were built between 1919 and 1939 in the UK – and even today design is still heavily influenced by the architecture of this period. In the 1930s, boxy shapes, chrome colours, and art deco all signalled that people were embracing the modern.

• Interior trends of the 1960s borrowed from what came before – Victorian and Edwardian styles were used as the foundations for many designs, and given an irreverent twist with bold colours, textures and patterns. Living spaces were open plan and favoured sliding doors, pine was the most popular wood and ‘s’ and ‘egg’ shape furniture was considered fashionable.

• In the 1970s bold colours and textures were very fashionable. Accessories like shag rugs, peacock chairs and vinyl players were all features of a modern living room.

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Rachel - Silversurfers Assistant Editor

Hello there! I’m Rachel and I’m the Assistant Editor for Silversurfers. I work behind the scenes to bring interesting, informative and entertaining subject matter to the Silversurfers community. I hope you enjoy the features we have shared with you. Please feel free to comment below and share your thoughts with us, we love to hear from you!

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Helen Highwater
15th Mar 2020
Thanks for voting!
As I sit in front of my laptop using a tappy little keyboard and a mouse, I remember in the early 1960s learning to touch-type on a heavy sit-up--and-beg Adler typewriter; at work, using sheets of carbon paper to make several copies of a document (all of which had to be painstakingly corrected if you made a mistake), and "cutting a stencil" to print off large quantities of documents (corrections here being made in fluorescent pink gunk). Now I just quickly correct by use of a couple of keys - although I do still touch-type!
15th Mar 2020
Thanks for voting!
Nostalgia has a very selective memory for only the good of the good old days a perfect example life today as an over 80 is so much easier than my early life and compared with that of my Mother and Grandmother is a piece of cake.....!
I’m not saying they were unhappy ......that was life for all so they didn’t know any different but no way would I like to go back in time ....! I’m happy and contented and very grateful for everything in my life and the time I have to enjoy it !
8th Mar 2019
Thanks for voting!
Absolutely love the 60's style!
5th Sep 2018
Thanks for voting!
I have really lovely memories of those days, had to walk everywhere or get on my bike or catch a bus.
Dancing to real bands, dressing up with voluminous skirts with seven petticoats, waspy belts.

Then it was the beatnik look, sloppy joe jumpers and leggings with ballet pumps and hairbands, very Jean Shrimpton.

I don't know if we were more adventurous, we made our own fun.
Although I have embraced todays technology I still sigh at the memories. Would I go back if I could...nah! Don't think I would want to walk miles for a phone box that didn't work.
31st Aug 2018
Thanks for voting!
Historically speaking as a Teenager then a young man my experiences of the 60s and 70s are I suppose wrapped and warped with nostalgia, that said despite some of the hardships thrust upon us particularly during the 70s e.g. mountains of rubbish piling up on the streets and power cuts putting all of that to one side we didn't have the distraction of mobile phones life was a lot simpler back then and in the case of the 60s the age of innocence and romance reflected in the heartfelt yearnings of the music. Alas say I will never see the likes again.
Joan Fraser
3rd Dec 2017
Thanks for voting!
Mmmmmm-I don't know that I ever really kept up with trends and/or technology; my own taste and good value within my price limit normally play(ed) a big part.....However, re today's technology - I refuse to stress myself trying to master the latest washing machine, coffee maker, 500 Channel TV, iPod, iPhone or iPad-all my gadgets are very basic and affordable
2nd Dec 2017
Thanks for voting!
Just discovered this Society's existence! It will bring a valuable dimension to my life as a divorced disabled mother of 2 daughters, living in Grantham. Quite often lonely, so this website will be a godsend!
29th Nov 2017
Thanks for voting!
I think there comes a time in life when keeping abreast of the latest trends and fashions becomes tiresome, and an expense when we're looking to a time when we won't have employment. I know it did with us a few years ago.

I suppose, in a way, change is passing us by now. We're more concerned about sustaining our very rural way of life than having the latest of everything. Indeed, our home is a sort of shabby chic eclectic mix of my wife's parents stuff, my parents stuff, and our own things when we met. But the point, surely, is that it's a very welcoming and comforting home and not a museum.

In answer to the question I really don't know how life is changing. Having lived my life in remote rural places it isn't important to me.

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