Living in 1960s Britain Timeline

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  • The United States of America enters the Vietnam War.
  • NASA’s space probe, Pioneer 5 is launched into orbit between Earth and Venus.
  • The Beatles perform their first public performance at the Indra club in Hamburg, Germany.


  • John F. Kennedy is sworn in as the 35th President of the United States, succeeding Dwight D. Eisenhower.
  • Ham the Chimp becomes the first ape in space, climbing to a distance of 157 miles above Earth in the Mercury-Redstone 2 Launch Vehicle.
  • George Blake, a British spy found guilty of working as a double agent for the Soviet Union, is imprisoned for 42 years.
  • Construction begins on the Berlin Wall, with the purpose of restricting movement within Berlin and forming a solid boundary between East and West Germany.
  • American involvement in the Vietnam War begins officially, as helicopters and four-hundred U.S. personnel land in Saigon.


  • Prime Minister Harold Macmillan dismisses one third of his Cabinet in what the press dubs the ‘Night of the Long Knives’.
  • The Beatles release their first single, “Love Me Do“.
  • “Dr. No“, the first ever James Bond film, premieres in United Kingdom cinemas.
  • The South African government arrests Nelson Mandela in Howick and charges him with incitement to rebellion.


  • The Big Freeze of 1963 begins, with temperatures reaching as low as -16C (3.2F) in places. The ice and snow finally starts to thaw in early March.
  • The Beatles release their first album, “Please Please Me“.
  • 70,000 marchers arrive in London from Aldermaston, to demonstrate against nuclear weapons.
  • The Great Train Robbery of 1963 takes place in Buckinghamshire. £2.6 million is stolen, but thirteen men are later convicted and jailed for the crime.
  • Alec Douglas-Home succeeds Harold Macmillan as Prime Minister.
  • U.S. President John F. Kennedy is shot dead in Dallas.
  • “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “I Saw Her Standing There” are released in America, marking the beginning of full-scale ‘Beatle-mania‘.


  • The Beatles arrive at New York City’s JFK International Airport, receiving a reception from a mass of screaming fans. This is the first occurrence of “Beatle-mania” in the United States.
  • BBC Two begins broadcasting in the United Kingdom.
  • Nelson Mandela and seven others are sentenced to life imprisonment in South Africa and sent to the Robben Island prison.
  • The 1964 Summer Olympics are held in Tokyo.
  • The House of Commons votes to abolish the death penalty for murder in Britain.


  • Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in for his full term as U.S. President.
  • The State funeral of Sir Winston Churchill takes place with the largest assembly of statesmen in the world until the 2005 funeral of Pope John Paul II.
  • The Beatles perform the first stadium concert in the history of rock, playing at Shea Stadium in New York.
  • The Post Office Tower opens in London.
  • A seventy miles per hour speed limit is imposed on British roads.


  • The Rubber Soul album by The Beatles goes number 1 and stays at the top position for 6 weeks.
  • Georges Pompidou is re-appointed the French Prime Minister and forms a new government.
  • Harold Wilson, leader of the Labour party, wins the British general election.
  • USSR’s Luna 10 becomes the first spacecraft to orbit the Moon.
  • The White House Conference on Civil Rights is attended by 2,400 people.
  • England beat West Germany 4-2 to win the FIFA World Cup.
  • Queen Elizabeth II officially opens The Severn Bridge.
  • In Aberfan, South Wales, 116 children and 28 adults are killed as a coal waste heap slid and engulfed a school.
  • Both America and USSR sign a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons in outer space.


  • The Beatles release “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band“, nicknamed “The Soundtrack of the Summer of Love”.
  • BBC Two transmits tennis coverage from Wimbledon in colour. This is the first time that television is broadcast in colour in the United Kingdom and a full colour service begins on the channel from 2nd December.
  • BBC Radio One, BBC Radio Two, BBC Radio Three and BBC Radio Four are all launched.
  • The Concorde is unveiled in Toulouse, France.


  • Queen Elizabeth II appoints Cecil Day-Lewis as British Poet Laureate.
  • The Beatles’ album Magical Mystery Tour goes to number 1 in the charts.
  • At the age of 87, Jeannette Rankin, a congresswoman from Montana, leads some 5,000 women on a march in Washington D.C. to protest the Vietnam War.
  • Elvis Presley receives a gold record for the album How Great Thou Art.
  • The My Lai massacre occurs; one of the most controversial incidents of the Vietnam War, in which 400 unarmed Vietnamese civilians are killed.
  • Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral takes place, and he is buried in Atlanta.
  • The Northern Ireland Prime Minister Terence O’Neill meets the British Prime Minister Harold Wilson for talks about Northern Ireland.
  • The Beatles’ White Album goes to number 1 in the charts and stays there for 9 weeks.


  • Richard Milhous Nixon succeeds Lyndon Baines Johnson as the 37th President of the United States of America.
  • The Beatles give their last public performance, on the roof of Apple Records.
  • The Boeing 747 takes-off on its maiden flight.
  • Prince Charles is invested with the title ’Prince of Wales’ at Caernarfon in a televised ceremony.
  • Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to walk on the Moon.
  • Regular colour television broadcasts begin on BBC One and ITV.
  • John Lennon returns his MBE medal in protest to the British government’s support of the war in Vietnam.
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