Posted by: Selina Todd | April 27, 2009

Ten Pound Poms

I’m currently in Australia – talking at various universities about the research that appears on this website, and using the time in between to write the book Hilary and I hope to publish about life in postwar Britain. While I’ve been here, I’ve heard a very different story to those featured on this website – the story of people who took the momentous decision to leave Britain as Ten Pound Poms between the 1940s and 1970s. Thousands made use of a scheme supported by the Australian government that offered free return passages for those Brits who agreed to remain in Australia for at least 2 years.

Al Thomson, one of the authors of the brilliant book Ten Pound Poms (Manchester University Press), says that those who left Britain had 2 major reasons for doing so – escaping poverty (especially those who left in the 1940s and early 1950s) and – by the 1960s – having an adventure.

Politicians’ talk of the ‘white working class’, or the ‘indigenous British’ forgets that immigration and emigration are a centuries-old part of Britain’s story – and that many ordinary British people have international networks of friends or family.  Thousands of people left Britain as Ten Pound Poms and this must have had a significant impact on the families and friends they left behind. Please share your experiences of that, or your experience of moving to Britain as a migrant from elsewhere, by getting in touch.

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Posted by: Selina Todd | February 25, 2009

Whatever Happened to the Working Class?

BBC Radio 4 is currently running a series ‘Whatever Happened to the Working Class?’ which focuses on Manchester (because that’s the city where Sarfraz Manzoor, the presenter, went to university). As ever with these programmes, it is very much the presenter’s take on an issue that’s complex, with people’s narratives and stories distilled into media soundbites. And the answer is, surely, that the working-class never went away – so that’s dealt with that, then. But still worth a listen. The first prog went out on Feb 18 but is available on BBC Listen Again; the next is scheduled for Feb 24th. Listen out for Selina Todd talking about the research featured on this website.

Also featured in the BBC series is the MaD (Moston Active Drama) theatre company, who are a fantastic Manchester-based working-class theatre group. Many of the company are teenagers living in North Manchester, defying the usual stereotypes about apathetic hoodies – and bringing a proper disrespect for authority to their stage productions that offer far more insights into working-class life than the BBC series promises to do. If you’re in Manchester and fancy getting involved with MaD, their website is in our list of links.

Posted by: Selina Todd | February 11, 2009

Teenagers of the 50s and 60s profiled on City Talk Radio

Listen to the Duncan Barkes show on Thursday 12 Feb on Liverpool City Talk FM (9am-12noon) to hear Selina Todd talking about the lives of Liverpool teenagers in the fifties and sixties, based on the interviews showcased here on the blog.

Posted by: Selina Todd | January 30, 2009

Liverpool Lives profiled on BBC Radio

Make sure you listen to Thinking Allowed on BBC Radio 4 at 4pm on Wednesday February 4, when Selina Todd will be talking about class in Liverpool since the 1950s with Prof Bev Skeggs of Goldsmiths College, University of London, and presenter Laurie Taylor. This follows the publication of Selina’s article,  ‘Affluence, Class and Crown Street’ – in the journal Contemporary British History. This looks at how life for Liverpool’s working-class changed in the 1950s and 1960s, with a rise in employment, the explosion of Merseybeat, and the growth of suburbia.

Many people across Britain and further afield have had to deal with the consequences of workplace closures over the last few decades. Losing your job doesn’t just affect your budget – it can have devastating effects for your family and for entire communities. The Love Lane Lives Project is focused on the campaign by Tate and Lyle employees to keep Liverpool’s Love Lane sugar refinery open. Unfortunately, the campaign wasn’t successful, but the project testifies to the strength of group of workers, their families and friends in fighting for their jobs and their Vauxhall community. Check out the new website lovelanelives.com, which showcases the project. Although the workers lost their fight to save the refinery, their campaign has led to a film, archive and ongoing work to commemorate the Sugarland community. The website demonstrates how much we can learn from their experiences in planning for the uncertain consequences of the ‘credit crunch’.

Posted by: Selina Todd | December 1, 2008

Great sites for local history and oral history

If you are interested in postwar history, you can find tons of information online.  Check out these sites for information, photos and memories. Pictures of Coventry is hosted by Coventry’s libraries and information services. It provides old photos of the city. Now Then is a West Yorkshire Archive Service website and is the place to find memories of growing up in West Yorkshire. It has loads of oral history clips. Manchester City Council’s local image collection is a fantastic resource for old photos and pictures of the city of Manchester. If you’re in the north west, check out the North West Sound Archive. Finally, the Oral History Society is a great place to start searching for local oral history collections in your area. Some of these sites also provide some excellent late Christmas gifts because they’ll print and deliver images to your door…

Posted by: Selina Todd | November 24, 2008

Of Time and the City

 

Of Time and the City

Of Time and the City

Terence Davies’s new film about postwar Liverpool, Of Time and the City, is out nationwide now. We would love to know if Terence Davies’s memories chime with your own, or, if you’re too young to remember the fifties and sixties, whether his film surprises you in any way. The film features a lot of music, much of it classical but some of it from Merseybeat and other popstars of the fifties and sixties. It also features a lot of film of the overhead railway, days out at New Brighton and the old streets of central and North Liverpool – and the tower blocks that replaced these. There’s also a lot about the Catholic Church, reflecting Davies’s own Catholic upbringing – and his later rejection of religion. Check out the Of Time and the City website for more details.


Posted by: Selina Todd | October 6, 2008

Class, the ‘credit crunch’ and ‘affluence’

As Britain teeters on the edge of recession, BBC Radio 4 has begun a blog designed to get your views on the so-called ‘credit crunch’ and how it is affecting people. Comments so far range much wider than house prices – the usual media focus – with listeners and bloggers offering their thoughts on the cost of living more generally. Many of them are feeling ‘the pinch’, but their comments indicate how region and social class still shape people’s standard of living. However, they also indicate that many people have been finding life difficult during the so-called ‘boom years’ of the late 1990s and early 200s. They highlight how difficult it is to define the ‘standard of living’, ‘boom’, ‘bust’, or even economic ‘development’ – terms often bandied about in the media. Comments indicate that many factors: fuel bills, mortgages, credit availability, but also benefits, employment and environment all contribute to how people feel about their lives and the society of which we’re all part. In the 1950s and 1960s, the term ‘affluence’ found its way into much media reportage about British society, and glossed over some of the underlying causes of poverty that never went away: old age and unemployment being two of the most major. The Radio 4 blog is a reminder to look behind ‘credit crunch’ headlines to discover the real causes of poverty and inequality in Britain today…and suggests that asking ordinary people their opinions might prove useful. Check it out here.

Posted by: Selina Todd | October 5, 2008

Debate on working class goes global

Sarah Palin, the Republican candidate for Vice-President in the USA Election Campaign, recently described herself as working-class. This has raised fresh debate about the definition and lifestyle of the ‘working class’. Check our list of links (blogroll, righthand column) that now include bloggers debating these issues around the world. We don’t agree with all the views expressed, but we hope you’ll find them food for thought.

Posted by: hilary young | September 18, 2008

Home Life Coventry and Liverpool

The following selection of images accompanied a small photographic exhibition of postwar life in Coventry and Liverpool. These images evoke a sense of home life and different views of postwar council housing. Click on the image to see a larger picture. If you can add information about the housing estates in Coventry that would be great!

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