Austerity, Affluence and Discontent, 1951-1979 WJEC GCSE History Lesson Resources

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Austerity, Affluence and Discontent, 1951-1979

This option focuses in depth on selected themes and issues relating to the history of austerity, affluence and discontent from 1951-1979. Learners will be required to consider the major influences on political, economic and social life in Britain during the period. Learners should understand how the experience of people within Wales at this time was distinctive but also that this can reflect the wider relationship with Britain. Learners should develop an awareness of how aspects of life in this period have been represented and interpreted and they should also address the key questions in each topic area using a range of historical sources.  Where appropriate, these will contain material from Welsh sources.  The required content below shows which key features and characteristics of the period must be studied.

Key Questions and required content
Britain in the early 1950s

What were the main issues facing the people of Britain in the early 1950s?

Required content: Austerity and rationing; housing problems; national debt; cost of welfare budget; industrial decline; the extent of this on geographical regions of the country.

The end of austerity

What factors contributed to the economic recovery in the 1950s and 1960s?

Required content: Town planning and new towns such as Cwmbran and Newtown; Macmillan- ‘never had it so good’; Wilson- ‘white heat of technology’;   road investment including the M4 and Severn Bridge; the Beeching axe and its effects on Wales; development of nuclear power stations such as Trawsfynydd and Wylfa

Popular entertainment and fashion

What were the main changes in entertainment and fashion in this period?

Required content: Changing musical styles; ways of listening to music; impact of TV; the influence of American culture; the links between entertainment and fashion; the emergence of different youth cultures.

The changing lives of women

How far did the lives of women change in this period?

Required content: Labour-saving devices; education and employment changes; campaigns for women’s rights and liberation; the impact of the pill; equal opportunities legislation.

Changing attitudes to authority

How did attitudes to authority change in the 1950s and 1960s?

Required content: The permissive society; legalising homosexuality; attitudes to drugs; abolition of the death penalty; Profumo Scandal; the influence of CND ; the origins of Cymdeithas yr Iaith; the rise of comprehensive and Welsh medium education.


What impact did immigration have on British society during this period?

Required content: Reasons for migration to  Britain; Caribbean immigration: the Windrush; race riots and Notting Hill 1958; the role of Enoch Powell; race relations legislation in the 1970s; the contribution of migrants to life in British communities.

Political and economic problems

What were the main political and economic problems in the 1970s?

Required content: The Aberfan disaster of 1966 and its aftermath; developments in Welsh politics after 1962: Tryweryn 1965;  Carmarthen by-election 1966; the Investiture of 1969; industrial unrest in Wales in the 1970s; attitudes in Wales to devolution by 1979

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