The 1970s and collapse of the Works

A decade of trouble and laughter, all change for pupils at the town’s schools
- and plans for a new museum.


18s vote for the first time


Decimal Currency Introduced to UK


Miners’ strike and three-day week


UK joins the EEC


ABBA win Eurovision with ‘Waterloo’


The Willis building is opened in Ipswich


Heatwave , drought and hosepipe bans


Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee


Bi-centenary of Garretts


Leiston Conservation area designated including the Town Works

Change at the Works

Business at the Works remained healthy in the 1970s. It was producing dry cleaning machines as well as continuing the production for The S&S Machine Company and the Elliott’s shaper output However, its parent company, Beyer-Peacock, struggled. After it was taken over in 1976, the Works experienced changes in ownership. At first, things looked promising and, in 1977, the second phase of plans for Colonial House on the Top Works was completed. In 1978, Garretts proudly celebrated its 200th anniversary. But, in 1980, the parent company collapsed. This forced an abrupt end to Richard Garrett Engineering Works.

Opening, ending and moving

The beginning of comprehensive education in Suffolk meant a major reorganisation of schools in Leiston. A new block was added to the school site in Seaward Avenue and Leiston High School for pupils aged 13-18 opened in September 1973, ending both the Modern and Grammar Schools. A new 9-13 Middle School moved into the 1909 buildings the Grammar School had occupied.

The old Grammar School buildings

Angela Leonard remembers the school changes of the 1970s

In this recording, made in July 2020, Angela Leonard recollects her experience as a teacher when Leiston schools reorganised in 1973.

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Silver Jubilee Mug

Gloom, humour and celebration

Leiston felt the impact of national difficulties in the 70s – the three-day week, power cuts and strikes affecting postal deliveries and refuse collection. It was a good decade for TV humour, though, and The Good Life and Fawlty Towers, amongst others, lifted the gloom. Sport flourished with the opening of a new speedway cycle track at the Victory Road ground in 1974. The Queen’s Silver Jubilee was celebrated in June 1977 here and across the country with parties and a carnival atmosphere.

Leiston Speedway Cycle Track

70s Snapshots

Jubilee celebrations

© The Long Shop Museum 2019

The Long Shop Museum is a charity registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales.

Registration Number 1167945