Aftermath, Austerity and Affluence: Politics, Culture and Society in Britain 1945 to 1958

159 TUTOR: Peter Street

During this period, the challenges faced by Britain in 1945 and subsequent post-war austerity gradually gave way to growing affluence. This course explores major political, economic and imperial and foreign policy issues, together with aspects of daily life, leisure, popular culture, education and belief. Topics covered include key social and industrial policies, notably the expansion of the welfare state and mixed economy, decolonisation and the growth of and reaction to multiculturalism. Also considered are developments in transport, communications and the Arts as well as technology in the home, the beginnings of modern youth culture and the 1951 Festival of Britain. Memorabilia welcome.

1 AM
AM course

Course Notes

Day One

1945 - 1958: an overview; from cheering Churchill to voting Attlee: May - July, 1945

The making of the British Welfare State (1): 1939-1945

Day Two

The making of the British Welfare State (2): 1945-1951

'The Commanding Heights' and beyond: industrial and economic policy 1945-1958

Day Three

'A Tonic to the Nation' - The Festival of Britain (1951)

'(Some of our people) have never had it so good': aspects of daily life in 1950s Britain

Day Four

Britain and the wider world (1) decolonisation and the Cold War, 1945-1953

Britain and the wider world (2) the Suez Crisis; Britain and 'Europe', 1945-1958

Day Five

The Arts and popular culture, 1945-1958

The shape of things to come: youth and multiculturalism, 1945-1958


It is not necessary to be familiar with the subject but should you wish to read ahead/afterwards, you might find (the relevant chapters/sections of) one or more of the following helpful:

CG Brown Britain since 1707

P Clarke Hope and glory: Britain 1900-1990/2000 [depending on edition]

B Harrison Seeking a role: the United Kingdom 1951-1970

P Hennessy Never again: Britain 1945-1951

P Hennessy Having it so good: Britain in the 1950s

D Kynaston Austerity Britain, 1945-1951

D Kynaston Family Britain 1951-1957

D Kynaston Modernity Britain 1957-1962

A Marwick British society since 1945

D Sandbrook Never had it so good: a history of Britain from Suez to the Beatles

D Todman Britain's war 1942-1947 [due to be published March 2020]

Course Tutor

Peter Street

About Peter

Peter has contributed to the Marlborough College Summer School since 1992. He is an Oxford University graduate in Modern History, a qualified teacher and has taught history in higher and adult education for over forty years. Most of Peter's teaching was for Birkbeck College (University of London) and the Open University. Peter has also  lectured for NADFAS, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Trust, the Historical Association and history societies generally.

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All courses run for 5 days

WK 1 11 Jul - 15 Jul

WK 2 18 Jul - 22 Jul

WK 3 25 Jul - 29 Jul

WK 4 1 Aug - 5 Aug

Morning Courses

9.15AM to 12.15PM

Afternoon Courses

1.45PM to 4.30PM

All Day Courses

9.15AM to 4.30PM