London's Story

London after World War II

After the war the most immediate effect on the people of London was a lack of decent housing. The new Labour government brought in a massive programme of changes that established the National Health Service, and nationalisation of gas, electricity, transport, rail, postal and telephone services (i.e. ownership by the State). Rationing of food, clothes and sweets continued, and life for most people was austere, with shortages felt everywhere. New housing schemes and huge re-building programmes commenced, with high-rise blocks of flats being popular with the architects and planners. Many mistakes were made at this time, and London is still suffering social problems to this day which can be said to be caused by lack of community spirit, destroyed by the impersonality of these huge tower blocks of flats and cheap housing schemes. 

There were some bright spots in this period of London’s history. The Festival of Britain in 1951 saw new building projects to support art and music, and the Royal Festival Hall is a permanent reminder of the Festival.

Gradually life in London began to recover from the effects of the War. London in the Sixties became “Swinging London” with young designers leading the way with their trendy clothes, mini-skirts, and music. London became the hip capital of the world, with Carnaby Street as its centre. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones – to name just two of the new “Sounds of the Sixties” – played to record audiences, and over 500,000 people gathered in Hyde Park in 1969 to a “gig”.



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