The year 1962 looms large in Britain’s cultural memory. It was a year of profound change, marking a pivotal transitional period between the conservatism of the 1950s and the radical upheavals of the 1960s. From pop culture sensations to historic sporting achievements, groundbreaking television to forward strides in women’s rights, 1962 set the stage for the ‘Swinging Sixties’ to come. Join us as we revisit that remarkable year, both to indulge in nostalgia for simpler times and better understand how Britain evolved into the nation it is today. As the stars of rock and film took their first steps into the limelight and England staked its claim as a football powerhouse, the events of 1962 traced the trajectory of the coming decade. Relive it all through this definitive retrospective journey.


Release of the first James Bond film Dr. No, starring Sean Connery, sparking the hugely popular spy franchise

The release of the first James Bond film, Dr. No in 1962 marked a seminal moment in cinema history. Sean Connery debuted as the suave, sophisticated secret agent James Bond in this action-packed spy thriller. Directed by Terence Young, the film follows Bond as he investigates the disappearance of a fellow agent in Jamaica, leading him to the underground lair of the mysterious Dr. No.

Dr. No launched the incredibly successful and influential James Bond franchise that has spanned over 50 years. The film wowed audiences with its exotic tropical locations, suspenseful plot, hi-tech gadgets, and modern take on the spy genre. Sean Connery’s performance defined the quintessential on-screen Bond – dashing, daring, and exuding swagger. The movie demonstrated the rising popularity of films as a mainstream entertainment medium and box office draw. Beyond pure entertainment, Dr. No also reflected cultural shifts in attitudes towards violence, sexuality, and gender.

Overall, Dr No’s huge popularity worldwide established James Bond as an iconic character who would go on to feature in 25 subsequent films. It set a high benchmark for the extravagant set pieces, sardonic humour, breathtaking stunts, and cinematic flair that would define the Bond series. The film showed that audiences were keen for glamorous escapist heroes in the anxious post-war era who differed from the typical Hollywood leading man. Its visionary style and suspenseful execution ensured that James Bond would become one of the most enduring and lucratively successful franchises in movie history.

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The Sunday Times begins publishing a colour supplement, a landmark for newspapers

On 4 February 1962, the Sunday Times became the first UK national newspaper to publish a dedicated colour supplement. This full-colour magazine insert named the Sunday Times Colour Section was a bold innovation that transformed British newspaper publishing.

The launch of the Sunday Times colour supplement demonstrated the rapid technological changes taking place in printing during the 1960s. Advances made full-colour reproduction more affordable and accessible. The Sunday Times sought to distinguish itself from competitors by adopting colour Sunday supplements to cover lifestyle topics beyond traditional hard news.

The weekly Sunday Times Colour Section featured photo essays, celebrity profiles, recipes, fashion trends, travelogues and women’s interests. It provided advertisers with dramatic full-colour ad space. This pioneering colour supplement was part of Editor Denis Hamilton’s vision to radically modernise the Sunday Times into a newspaper geared towards innovative reporting, features and photography.

By launching the first national colour supplement, the Sunday Times set an influential benchmark across the UK publishing landscape. Other papers soon followed their lead as colour supplements became a standard part of weekend editions. The Sunday Times Colour Section continued publication for 47 years until ceasing in 2009. But in 1962, it ushered in a new era of vibrant colour magazine journalism that transformed newspapers from stark black-and-white pages.

Launch of the cult TV series The Avengers starring Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman

The launch of the television series The Avengers in January 1962 marked the creation of one of the most iconic British TV shows of the 1960s. Starring Patrick Macnee as suave, bowler hat-wearing secret agent John Steed and Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale, The Avengers combined spy-fi, action and eccentric British humour into an innovative show that found huge success.

The Avengers followed the missions of Steed and his associates as they combatted diabolical masterminds and criminal conspiracies, often involving sci-fi elements. Blackman’s character Cathy Gale introduced one of the first action heroines on TV who could hold her own against the villains. With its developing feminism, quirky eccentricity and witty dialogue delivered in an unruffled manner, The Avengers embodied the “Swinging Sixties” era in Britain.

High production values and creative direction by Brian Clemens made the show stand out. Its move into colour episodes in 1967 only enhanced its iconic pop art visual flare. By combining covert missions, English irony and a creative vision unlike anything else on television, The Avengers pioneered ideas adopted in many subsequent shows. Its unique blend of spy-fi, surrealism, eccentricity and style came to epitomize 1960s culture. Nearly 60 years later, The Avengers remains an indelible high-watermark of creative British television.

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Publication of Anthony Burgess’ dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange

The publication of Anthony Burgess’ novel A Clockwork Orange in 1962 was a landmark moment in dystopian fiction and created one of literature’s most infamous characters, Alex DeLarge. Set in a dismal near-future Britain filled with violent youth gangs and totalitarian government overreach, the novel tells a dark yet thought-provoking story that explores themes of free will, social control and morality.

The anti-hero of the novel is Alex, a charismatic yet sadistic teenage gang leader who narrates in a unique slang vocabulary called “Nadsat.” After Alex is jailed for murder, he undergoes an experimental aversion therapy meant to reform criminal minds by making them adverse to violence. But this technique robs Alex of free will, making him an obedient puppet or “clockwork orange.” When released back into society defenceless, Alex faces vengeance from former victims.

Burgess’ complex novel raised profound questions about the ethics of state control over personal freedom. Presenting an unredeemable protagonist that readers still found sympathy for also challenged conventions. Upon release, the novel’s brutal violence sparked controversy but also critical praise for its linguistic originality and a thought-provoking message about good and evil.

Stanley Kubrick’s iconic 1971 film adaptation further boosted the popularity and infamy of the work. A Clockwork Orange remains a dystopian landmark and Burgess’ most influential novel. Its exploration of moral questions surrounding social control, freedom of choice and human nature retains philosophical weight and relevance. The character of Alex DeLarge left an indelible mark as one of literature’s most notorious anti-heroes.

The controversial drama Victim released, the first film to use the term “homosexual”

The 1961 British drama film Victim was a groundbreaking work that courageously tackled the taboo subject of homosexuality and homophobia at a time when it was still illegal in the UK. Released in 1962, the film was the first to ever use the term “homosexual” explicitly.

Victim starred matinee idol Dirk Bogarde as Melville Farr, a closeted gay London barrister faced with blackmail over his sexuality. Farr confronts deep societal prejudice as he tries to uncover the conspiracy that led to his former lover’s suicide. In an era when LGBTQ portrayal in film was non-existent or demonizing, Victim presented a thoughtful, sympathetic portrait that challenged prejudices.

While carefully avoiding on-screen same-sex intimacy due to censorship, the film’s script directly addressed homophobia and the injustice of criminalizing homosexuality. Bogarde’s nuanced performance bravely tackled a controversial role when being openly gay was unthinkable for public figures. For its groundbreaking social impact, Victim was nominated for Best British Film at the 1962 BAFTAs.

Victim sparked a wider debate about the need for law reform. Just five years after its release, the Sexual Offences Act 1967 partially decriminalized homosexual acts in private in England and Wales. This key milestone demonstrated the influential role the film played in bringing once-taboo topics to public consciousness and promoting acceptance, empathy and progress. More broadly, Victim remains a testament to the power of film to question unjust societal attitudes.


The Rolling Stones make their live debut at the Marquee Club, launching their career

On July 12, 1962, a little-known rhythm and blues band called The Rolling Stones made their live debut at the Marquee Jazz Club in London. Their first Marquee performance marked the auspicious beginning of the career of one of the biggest rock groups of all time.

For the inaugural gig, The Rolling Stones lineup featured Brian Jones on guitar, Mick Jagger on vocals, Keith Richards on guitar, Dick Taylor on bass, Ian Stewart on piano, and Tony Chapman on drums. They played a high-energy set mostly covering American R&B songs and some blues numbers, establishing their edgy and dynamic sound.

The raw, youthful group electrified the crowd with renditions of tunes like Elmore James’ “Dust My Broom” and Chuck Berry’s “Come On.” Their passion and talent for playing American blues and R&B shone through from the start. This first concert began building its reputation around London’s rhythm and blues scene.

Over the next months, The Stones secured more gigs at the Marquee and other venues around London. With subsequent lineup changes solidifying the core group of Jagger, Richards, Jones, Wyman and Watts, they rapidly attracted a fanatical live following and were signed to a recording deal within a year.

From inauspicious roots playing a tiny Soho club, to quickly becoming the bad boys of the British Invasion unleashed on America, The Rolling Stones’ first Marquee Club show in July 1962 marked a humble beginning that led to monumental rock and roll success. That initial gig launched a career that would ultimately see The Stones perform over 4000 concerts globally, release 30 studio albums, and get inducted as rock music legends.

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The Beatles release their debut single “Love Me Do”, marking the start of the Beatlemania phenomenon

The release of The Beatles’ first single “Love Me Do” in October 1962 marked the humble beginnings of the most influential band in rock history. At the time, The Beatles were still a largely unknown group from Liverpool trying to make their break into the music scene. While “Love Me Do” only reached number 17 on the UK charts upon its debut, it was a pivotal first step that launched the Fab Four into eventual superstardom.

“Love Me Do” has a simple yet catchy melody and lyrics about young love. It features John Lennon on lead vocals and harmonica, Paul McCartney on bass, George Harrison on guitar, and Ringo Starr on drums. The Beatles recorded it at EMI Studios in London, which would later become the famous Abbey Road Studios. Released on the Parlophone label, the single helped gain attention for the group from influential BBC radio DJs like Keith Skues. By the end of 1962, The Beatles had recorded their follow-up single “Please Please Me,” which skyrocketed up the charts in early 1963.

While not an immediate smash hit, “Love Me Do” marked the humble recorded debut of The Beatles, who would soon ignite Beatlemania and become the biggest band of the 1960s. Their fresh sound, boyish charm, and incredible songwriting talents ensured their enduring legacy. But it all started with this low-key first single showcasing their talent as Britain’s brightest rising stars and pioneers of the “Beat” sound. The Beatles’ early success hinted at the sweeping cultural phenomenon that was to come, changing music and pop culture forever.

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The Tornados’ “Telstar” becomes the first major British rock instrumental hit

The instrumental track “Telstar” by British band The Tornados was released in August 1962 and went on to become the first major rock instrumental hit by a British group. Composed and produced by legendary producer Joe Meek, “Telstar” was a hugely influential track that blended pop, rock and electronic experimentation.

“Telstar” featured twanging, reverb-heavy guitar riffs laid over a swirling and eerie electronic organ sound produced using an early synthesizer. The lead guitar melody was catchy and almost sounded extraterrestrial, fitting the Space Age theme. The track title referenced the Telstar communications satellite launched into orbit two weeks before the song’s release, making it topically relevant.

“Telstar” became a phenomenal success in both the UK and the United States. It was the first single by a British band to reach #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100. In the UK, it spent 25 weeks on the charts, five of them at #1. The song’s triumphant instrumental melody made it appeal across pop, rock and easy-listening radio. The Tornados’ unique sonic combination of guitars and synthesizers created an atmospheric and futuristic sound.

The recording techniques devised by Joe Meek in his homemade studio also contributed to the track’s innovative quality. Meek imaginatively altered sounds added reverb, and modified equipment to craft the bold “Telstar” sound. The song’s spacey vibes and twangy catchiness made it instantly recognizable. It became one of the most iconic songs of the early 1960s.

The runaway success of “Telstar” showed the growing popularity of rock instrumentals. It also demonstrated that UK artists could find transatlantic success in the early years of the “British invasion.” The Tornados themselves were unable to replicate their “Telstar” fame with later releases. But the track’s legacy as a pioneering, genre-bridging recording remains timeless. It encapsulated the Space Age spirit of its era in a fresh musical package that opened new frontiers for pop synthesizer experimentation and recording innovation.


The satirical TV show That Was The Week That Was begins airing on BBC

The satirical television programme That Was The Week That Was, commonly known as TW3, premiered on the BBC in November 1962. With its biting humour and commentary on current events, TW3 broke new ground for political and social satire on British television.

TW3 was conceived by producer Ned Sherrin and hosted by presenter David Frost. It pioneered a new format of weekly mocking reviews of the news. The show would skewer politicians, world leaders, and celebrities using sketch comedy segments. By lampooning hypocrisy and absurdity in a light-hearted way, TW3 pushed boundaries in terms of content.

Airing late on Saturday nights, TW3 gained attention for tackling controversial political issues that were considered too sensitive or biased for news programmes. The show’s writers and cast, which included actors and comedians like Lance Percival, Roy Kinnear, and Willie Rushton, developed topical sketches with a subversive edge.

Major stories and scandals were turned into song parodies, such as the Profumo affair becoming “Christine Keeler Cha-Cha-Cha.” Popular recurring segments like “The Diplomat’s Songbook” poked fun at global tensions. TW3 also invited high-profile guest interviews, though not all targets appreciated the mockery.

TW3 proved hugely popular during its initial two-season run, attracting up to 12 million viewers. However, its lampooning of authority ruffled some feathers. The show’s satirical edge was controversial at the time, as it tested traditional notions of broadcasting impartiality.

Despite its short lifespan, That Was The Week That Was blazed a trail for future television satire. Its irreverent spirit directly inspired hit series like Monty Python’s Flying Circus in the following decade. TW3 demonstrated that audiences had an appetite for comedy that pushed boundaries and addressed real-world issues with parody.

Coronation Street debuts and becomes Britain’s longest-running soap opera

The popular television soap opera Coronation Street made its first appearance on ITV on December 9, 1960. Created by Tony Warren, Coronation Street became known for its working-class Northern English setting and characters, portraying everyday life in a fictional suburb of Manchester. Over the decades, it has gone on to become the longest-running soap opera on British television.

That first episode introduced viewers to iconic characters like Ena Sharples, Elsie Tanner and Ken Barlow, played by actors Violet Carson, Patricia Phoenix and William Roache respectively. They would become the mainstays of the show. The early black-and-white episodes focused on the residents of a single terraced street in the fictional town of Weatherfield, showcasing family life, romance and petty rivalries.

A typical Northern setting and kitchen sink realism made Coronation Street stand out from other soaps. The characters spoke in regional accents and working-class lifestyles. Plots involved everyday drama around pubs, corner shops, cafes and row houses. This slice-of-life intimacy resonated with audiences, making the show a quick hit.

By the late 1960s, Coronation Street was Britain’s most-watched soap opera. Its iconic opening theme song and Northern imagery became pop culture staples. Long-running characters like Hilda Ogden and Vera Duckworth entered national lore. Over the decades, Coronation Street has tackled serious issues like domestic abuse along with its standard family feuds and scandals.

Today, Coronation Street continues its reign as Britain’s leading soap. Its 1960 debut introduced the nation to Weatherfield and its idiosyncratic residents. The show’s kitchen-sink roots, community spirit, and mix of humour and drama have made it synonymous with quality British television. After over 10,000 episodes, Coronation Street remains beloved as both a mirror to working-class life in Britain and a national institution.

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The children’s TV show Blue Peter premieres on the BBC

The long-running BBC children’s television programme Blue Peter premiered in October 1958 and aired its first full series in 1962. Centered around games, arts, crafts and music, Blue Peter became essential viewing for generations of British children. Its mix of entertainment and education set a standard for children’s programming.

Blue Peter was initially hosted by presenters Christopher Trace and Leila Williams when regular series broadcasting began in January 1962. It was transmitted weekly from studios in Manchester. The show’s format was a magazine-style mix of segments including storytelling, arts and crafts lessons, competitions, and interviews with experts on nature, science, and history. Young viewers could write in with suggestions. Popular features like the Blue Peter badge and ‘make’ using household objects established audience interaction.

What set Blue Peter apart was its blend of fun and learning. The presenters treated the young audience respectfully, inspiring their curiosity rather than talking down to them. Reporters would be sent on ‘expeditions’ worldwide to report back on other cultures. Viewers were encouraged to think globally. The 30-minute running time was filled with varied segments and energy to match children’s attention spans.

Within a few years, Blue Peter became the most popular children’s programme in Britain. Presenters like John Noakes, Valerie Singleton, Peter Purves and Leslie Judd became household names. The format continued evolving with outside broadcasts, studio stunts and an annual Christmas appeal for donations. Its imaginative and wholesome approach created the gold standard for British children’s television. Multiple generations grew up watching and learning from Blue Peter in its mission to inform, educate and entertain.


Tottenham Hotspur wins the FA Cup in a victory for English football

In May 1962, Tottenham Hotspur Football Club secured a memorable victory by defeating Burnley 3-1 in the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium. This triumph marked the first time the North London side had won the prestigious knockout competition since 1921.

The 1961-62 FA Cup campaign had seen Tottenham progress to the final after defeating Liverpool in a semi-final replay. Their opponents Burnley had been First Division league champions the previous season and went into the final as favourites. However, Tottenham would defy expectations with a dominant display to lift the trophy.

In front of nearly 100,000 spectators at Wembley, Tottenham took control early in the match. Their star striker Jimmy Greaves scored the opener in the fourth minute to give Spurs an ideal start. Winger Bobby Smith added a second goal shortly after halftime to put Tottenham firmly in the driver’s seat at 2-0 up.

Although Burnley pulled one back through striker Jimmy Robson, Tottenham remained on top and secured victory with captain Danny Blanchflower adding a third goal. The 3-1 scoreline reflected Tottenham’s control of the Final. Manager Bill Nicholson and his ‘Double’ winning team from 1961 had added FA Cup glory to seal consecutive trophy successes.

The win reinforced Tottenham’s status as England’s foremost club side in the early 1960s. Jimmy Greaves’ return to scoring form proved the difference, as he finished the FA Cup run as top scorer. For Danny Blanchflower, the FA Cup win was a fitting end to his career, marking his final game before retiring. Tottenham had earned their place in history as worthy winners of a memorable 1962 FA Cup final.

For English football, Tottenham’s win demonstrated the strength of the nation’s top clubs, as English teams had been restricted from European competition since the Heysel disaster. As one of the finest sides of the era, Tottenham’s FA Cup victory underscored the quality and competitive balance throughout the English leagues. The dramatic Wembley final capped a successful FA Cup tournament and 1962 football season.

Great Britain finishes 3rd in the medal table at the European Athletics Championships

In September 1962, Great Britain put in a strong performance at the European Athletics Championships held in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. The British team finished third overall in the medals table, showcasing the strength of British athletics.

A squad of over 50 British men and women competed across track and field events against Europe’s top talent. Heading into the championships, expectations were high for British medal contenders like hurdler Maurice Herriott, long jumper Lynn Davies, and sprinter Dorothy Hyman.

The British squad rose to the occasion, securing a total of 7 gold medals and 23 medals overall to land third in the table behind the Soviet Union and Germany. These impressive results demonstrated the success of British athletic development programmes.

Some highlights for Team Great Britain included Dorothy Hyman blazing to victory in the 100m in 11.3s, one of her three sprint golds. Lynn Davies soared out to a silver medal in the long jump. Middle distance runner Robbie Brightwell grabbed silvers in the 800m and 4x400m relay.

But the undisputed star for Britain was 110m hurdler Maurice Herriott who dominated the event, breaking the Championships record in the heats before capturing gold in the final. Herriott’s stellar sprinting and hurdling confirmed his status as the top male hurdler in Europe that year.

The team’s fighting spirit secured Britain’s place as a leading European track and field nation. Following the outstanding performance, UK media praised the team’s medal haul as demonstrating the prime health of British athletics as the 1960s progressed. The 1962 Championships marked another high point for British sport as the country excelled across such a range of track and field disciplines.

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England loses to Brazil in the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup

In June 1962, England’s national football team suffered a bittersweet defeat against football titans Brazil in the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup in Chile. While the loss ended England’s World Cup run, the match was a historic contest between two preeminent footballing nations.

England had started brightly in the 1962 World Cup, topping their group with wins over Argentina and Bulgaria to reach the knockout stage. However, awaiting them in the last eight were the formidable Brazilians, led by legends like Garrincha, Didi, Vava and a young Pelé.

On June 10th in the port city of Viña del Mar, England faced Brazil in a tense quarterfinal before nearly 68,000 spectators. Brazil controlled much of the first half, with Vava striking twice to give them a 2-0 lead. England regrouped in the second half, with goals from Gerry Hitchens and Jimmy Greaves equalizing 2-2 before Garrincha won it for Brazil with a stunning direct free kick.

While disappointed, the 3-2 defeat marked one of England’s finest World Cup performances to date. They had tested the mighty Brazilians where most teams crumbled. Striker Jimmy Greaves scored in all four of England’s World Cup matches, ultimately finishing as the tournament’s leading goal scorer.

The British press praised England’s efforts against Brazil, viewed by many as the premier national team of the era. Coming two years after their home elimination in the group stage, England’s 1962 run restored some pride. The narrow loss to Brazil showed the team’s character and quality.

Both teams would go on to meet in several subsequent World Cup clashes, forming an iconic rivalry. But in 1962, just witnessing England take Brazil to the brink in a thrilling contest was a relative achievement. The quarterfinal defeat was a valiant effort in a World Cup campaign that saw England restore some honour after their previous early exit.

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The Commonwealth Immigrants Act restricts immigration from Commonwealth countries, reflecting racial debates

In July 1962, the Commonwealth Immigrants Act was passed by the Conservative government in the United Kingdom, imposing the first controls on immigration from British Commonwealth countries. The controversial law reflected wider public and political debates over race relations and immigration in Britain.

The Act introduced employment vouchers as a requirement for Commonwealth citizens wishing to migrate to Britain. This system aimed to reduce primary immigration from the New Commonwealth nations of Asia and Africa, while still permitting free entry for mostly white Old Commonwealth countries like Australia and Canada.

The voucher scheme allotted only 20,000 vouchers annually. Commonwealth citizens considered ‘undesirable’ could also be denied entry or deported under the new rules. Supporters argued controls were necessary to reduce migrant numbers, but others criticized the law as racially discriminatory.

The Commonwealth Immigrants Act had been preceded by inflammatory speeches from politicians highlighting fears of an ‘influx’ of black immigrants entering Britain. Right-wing groups campaigning on anti-immigration platforms grew increasingly prominent. The racial tenor of public sentiment bolstered support for the legislation.

In practice, the 1962 Act did sharply reduce primary immigration from Indian, Pakistani and West Indian communities. But ensuing backlogs for family members fueled subsequent illegal immigration that was difficult to curb. Nevertheless, the Act signalled a political sea change towards attempting to control and restrict non-white immigration to Britain, both for economic and racial reasons.

The Commonwealth Immigrants Act remains a controversial milestone in British immigration policy. While controls were motivated by pragmatic concerns, they also aligned with existing undercurrents of racial prejudice. The Act set a precedent for tighter entry rules that increasingly targeted non-white immigrant groups in Britain over subsequent decades. The 1962 law starkly reflected the polarising debates over race and immigration at that turbulent juncture in 20th-century British society.

The contraceptive pill becomes available for married women, a social milestone

In early 1962, the oral contraceptive pill was approved for use by married women in the United Kingdom, ushering in a breakthrough that gave women unprecedented control over fertility and kickstarted a sexual revolution.

The contraceptive pill first became available in 1961 but only for treating menstrual disorders. After clinical trials confirmed its safety and efficacy as an oral contraceptive, the Family Planning Association lobbied for its provision to healthy married women. In March 1962, the pill went on sale for birth control through the National Health Service.

This medical milestone allowing married couples to reliably limit pregnancies was pioneering. Previously, artificial contraception information could not even be distributed through public clinics. The legalisation and NHS provision of the pill was hugely significant in the context of 1960s social attitudes.

However widespread initial uptake was slow, as the pill still carried stigma. But its availability signalled changing social values around women’s sexuality. The pill liberated women by separating sex from procreation, letting them take charge of fertility based on choice, not chance. This freedom contributed to the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

Various concerns were voiced over the pill leading to promiscuity or health effects. But others hailed it as empowering women and strengthening marriages by easing the worry of unwanted pregnancy. It shifted perceptions around premarital sex and non-procreative sex between partners. The Church maintained opposition, but social acceptance gradually increased.

By the late 1960s, over one million British women had begun using the contraceptive pill, which was made available to single women in 1967. Its introduction irrevocably changed women’s lifestyles and marital relationships. The pill’s arrival in 1962 catalyzed a slow but profound shift towards sexual liberation and reproductive autonomy for British women.

The UN calls on UK to halt actions in Southern Rhodesia, reflecting tensions

In 1962, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution calling on the United Kingdom to cease any steps aimed at establishing a Central African Federation that included the self-governing colony of Southern Rhodesia. This UN intervention reflected building international tensions over Britain’s continued colonial presence in Africa.

Southern Rhodesia had a significant white settler population of around 225,000 compared to an African population of over 3 million by 1962. An indigenous African independence movement was growing, but the white minority government led by Prime Minister Winston Field sought to preserve white control by federating with Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

The British government under Harold Macmillan supported these federation plans as a means to align with Rhodesian settlers and gradually transition the colonies to majority rule. However, African nationalists staunchly opposed any federated independence before majority rule.

At the UN in late 1962, 36 African and Asian member states backed a resolution stating that the UK’s federation plans denied the democratic rights of indigenous Africans in violation of the UN charter. It called on Britain to desist from imposing this Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland arrangement that entrenched minority control.

The tense UN debate underscored how Britain’s ongoing African colonial stewardship was coming under increasing international scrutiny and criticism. While legally only a recommendation, the anti-federation resolution was a symbolic blow, demonstrating global pressure on the UK’s Rhodesia policies. It highlighted how Britain’s imperial interests were diverging from anti-colonial forces.

In 1963, Britain ultimately backed away from its federation strategy, bowing to local African opposition. The Federation dissolved. While white minority rule continued in Rhodesia through a unilateral independence declaration in 1965, the 1962 UN intervention was an early sign of intensifying anti-colonial resistance. The episode reflected Britain’s waning imperial power and the decline of its colonial mission in Africa in the era of decolonization.

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The UK and France agree to build Concorde, the supersonic airliner

In November 1962, the United Kingdom and France formally agreed to cooperate on designing and building the world’s first supersonic passenger airliner known as Concorde. This aviation project marked an ambitious technological undertaking between the British and French.

The origins of Concorde reached back to the mid-1950s when both nations began exploring ideas for a supersonic transport plane to harness the new era of jet travel. Political and economic factors, including concerns over competition from America’s supersonic jet plans, ultimately pushed the historic allies to pool resources on developing a commercial supersonic plane.

After years of preliminary work, the two governments signed a formal treaty in London in November 1962 laying out their partnership on building the supersonic airliner. The British Aircraft Corporation and Aérospatiale would jointly handle production for what was briefly known as the Anglo-French Variable Geometry (AFVG) before being christened Concorde.

The 1962 Anglo-French agreement kickstarted one of the great international aviation undertakings of the 20th century. Though America’s rival supersonic project never materialized, Britain and France continued collaborating across political divides to nurture Concorde from drawing board to finished plane.

Concorde would go on to epitomize speed and futuristic design. Powered by four massive Olympus engines, the needle-nosed delta wing jet with retractable landing gear could cruise at over twice the speed of sound. Its eye-catching silhouette resembled a giant bird of prey.

After years of development, Concorde entered service in 1976, becoming a flagship of technological achievement and national pride for Britain and France. The aviation landmark lived up to its billing as a supersonic trailblazer before being retired in 2003. But Concorde’s origins can be traced back to that fateful Anglo-French treaty signed in 1962 aimed at producing the world’s first successful supersonic passenger aircraft.


Looking back at 1962 from today’s perspective, we can now fully appreciate what a momentous year of change it was for Britain. It marked the true beginnings of Beatlemania and Bondmania, kicked off golden eras for iconic shows like Doctor Who and Coronation Street, and set milestone social changes in motion. England announced itself on the world football stage while greats like Lynn Davies and Ann Packer heralded a new era of British athletic prowess. Mass media, manufacturing, and culture were transformed by boundary-pushing innovations. In the space of just one year, 1962 planted the seeds for Swinging Sixties London while paying homage to tradition. It was a vintage year, both a fond farewell to the grey 1950s and a bridge to the trailblazing changes ahead. More than just nostalgia, revisiting 1962 offers a compelling portrait of a nation in transition and a society on the cusp of explosive evolution.

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