LEISTON
1950s

The 50s

A decade of change, from austerity to rock and roll - and a new nuclear age.

1950

'The Archers' begins

1951

The Festival of Britain

1952

Death of Frank Garrett

1953

The Coronation

1954

End of Rationing

1955

Commercial TV starts

1956

Final Closure of Leiston Airfield

1957

Power Station plans for Sizewell approved

1958

Opening of the M1

1959

Anglia TV Starts

The Post Office Square Leiston

Change at the Works

In the 50s, Garretts was a subsidiary of the Manchester firm of Beyer-Peacock. In its search for a new focus, it began producing peat harvesters for the Irish Peat Authority. Increasingly though, it moved from its roots in medium heavy engineering into consumer products, for example electric irons and washing machines. New ventures included contracts with Bremner-Garrett to produce children's mechanical toys and links with Pye radio.

Leiston life

Events and lifestyles in Leiston reflected the national scene. Teenagers listened to Bill Hailey and the Comets singing 'Rock Around the Clock' and the cinema showed South Pacific to packed houses. Worries about the dangers of nuclear war were felt in a decade in which Britain tested its first H bomb. In the most memorable event of the decade, the Coronation was celebrated in 1953 with street parties and processions; many homes got their first television in order to watch the ceremony.

A Coronation Parade near Leiston recreation ground

Leiston Primary School

Listen to Ada Aldous remembering her work at Garretts in the 1940s and 1950

Ada Aldous' recollections were recorded in 2018. She worked in the department of Richard Garrett Engineering Works that made radio components for Pye during the Second World War and afterwards.

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Endings and Beginnings

A new primary school building was opened in King George's Avenue in 1953, the same year that the RAF recruit centre closed on Leiston airfield. The end of rationing was welcomed in 1954 and, by October 1957, the town had its first self-service store.

The new self-service ‘Co-op’ in Sizewell Road

Listen to Ada Aldous remembering her work at Garretts in the 1940s and 1950

Ada Aldous' recollections were recorded in 2018. She worked in the department of Richard Garrett Engineering Works that made radio components for Pye during the Second World War and afterwards.

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50s Snapshots

A new nuclear power station

With remarkably little local consultation (compared to nowadays), the future of Leiston and the area was radically changed by the decision in 1957 to grant the CEGB permission to develop the site at Sizewell for a huge new nuclear power station.

Sizewell in the 1950s before the construction of the nuclear power station

Sizewell in the 1950s before the construction of the nuclear power station

A new nuclear power station

With remarkably little local consultation (compared to nowadays), the future of Leiston and the area was radically changed by the decision in 1957 to grant the CEGB permission to develop the site at Sizewell for a huge new nuclear power station.

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