Austerity Britain, 1945-51
Try to imagine a world without supermarkets, television, automatic washing machines, personal computers, package holidays with almost every necessity rationed, and you might just begin to understand what it was like to live in Britain in 1945. Through personal testimony and excellent illustrations from Picture Post, the people’s story unfolds. The Labour Party’s landslide victory promised a new Britain for the working classes, the Welfare State was born, but there was an acute housing shortage in the battle scarred cities, and one-third of the inadequate dwellings did not have a bath or indoor lavatory. Housewives were forced to queue for hours for the meagre food rations. The often criticised school system did allow for a social mobility at this dawn of the new and more egalitarian Britain that would follow.
For those who remember the post-war era, this mammoth account will revive a mixed bag of memories: for others it will provide an unprecedented view of British society in a quickly changing world. This is the first volume in the series, Tales of a New Jerusalem, from V.E Day until the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979. I look forward to the next instalment.