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Timeline of events


July 26

General Election: Labour win a majority of 146. Polling day was in fact 5 July, but the result was declared on 26 July in order that the votes of servicemen abroad could be included.


February 7

World shortage of butter, margarine and cooking fats

February 14

Nationalisation of Bank Of England

March 31

London Airport at Heathrow opens

May 8

Ministry of Town and Country Planning supervise opening 20 New Towns

May 20

Nationalisation of coal industry

June 7

Television service resumes for first time since 1939

July 21

Bread and flour rationed

October 16

11 Nazis hanged for war crimes in Nuremberg

November 6

National Health Service Bill enacted


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January 1

National Coal Board takes over mines
View an example of a Post-War National Coal Board mining recruitment poster

January 13

Coldest weather since 1883 leads to rationing coal industry and homes

February 10

Acute fuel crisis as severe cold continues to March 4

March 23

Mountbatten appointed Viceroy of India to negotiate early independence

June 13

Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin warmly supports European Recovery Programme (Marshall Plan)
Learn more about Ernest Bevin

August 6

Austerity measures announced because of financial exchange crisis

August 15

India and Pakistan become independent
View a scene in Hyderabad city, India, in the 1940s, photographed by Cecil Beaton

August 15

Britain's first atomic pile comes into operation at Harwell

November 20

Princess Elizabeth marries Lt Philip Mountbatten


January 1

Nationalisation of British Railways effective

January 4

Burma becomes independent republic outside Commonwealth

June 24

Great Britain, France and USA establish air lift into West Berlin after USSR stops all road and rail traffic through East Germany

July 5

National Health Service inaugurated

July 25

End of Bread rationing

July 30

British Nationality Act: all Commonwealth subjects have status of British citizens

July 30

Gas industry nationalised


London Olympics:
Learn more about the 1948 Olympics

November 14

Prince Charles born


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March 15

End of clothes rationing

April 4

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) established
A formation of deHavilland Vampire FB5 fighter bombers of 603 Squadron, the Vampire entered service with the RAF in 1946

April 24

End of sweet rationing, but as demand outstripped supply, four months later rationing was re-introduced until February 1953.

September 18

Pound devalued from $4.03 to $2.80

October 1

Chinese Communist People's Republic formally established

November 24

Iron and Steel Nationalisation Bill enacted


February 23

General Election: Labour majority cut to 5

March 1

Klaus Fuchs, atomic scientist at Harwell, imprisoned for passing secrets to Soviet agents
The Cold War: View documents relating to Klaus Fuchs, the 'atom spy'

May 26

Petrol rationing ends

June 27

Attlee pledges support for United Nations in resisting invasion of South Korea (25 June) by North Korea
The Right Hon Major Clement Richard Attlee (1883-1967) Labour Prime Minister from 1945 to 1951

September 9

Soap rationing ends


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January 26

Ration for carcass meat cut to 18d a week

April 10

Chancellor Hugh Gaitskell's budget imposes prescription charges for NHS dentures and spectacles to help meet the financial demands of the Welfare State and Korean War.

April 22

Aneurin Bevan resigns because of prescription charges

May 5

Opening of main Festival of Britain site on South Bank
Artist's impression of an aerial perspective of the 1951 South Bank Exhibition, London

June 7-8

Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean defect to USSR

July 9

State of war with Germany formally declared at an end

October 25

General Election: Conservatives win with a majority of 17, although they polled fewer votes than Labour

October 27

Sir Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister, Sir Anthony Eden Foreign Secretary, and 'Rab' Butler Chancellor