Home Decades 1950s 1957


10 January. Harold Macmillan becomes British Prime Minister following Eden's resignation.


01 – Grandmaster Flash (Joseph Saddler) born.

04 – A London man upset with the shape of his nose is jailed for ten years for threatening a plastic surgeon with a gun.

07 – Chinese Premier Chou En-lai visits the USSR.

09Sir Anthony Eden resigns as British Prime Minister on grounds of ill-health.

10Harold Macmillan becomes British Prime Minister following Eden‘s resignation.

13Elvis Presley records All Shook Up.

14 – US actor Humphrey Bogart (b. 25/12/1899) dies at home in Hollywood, aged 57, after a long battle with throat cancer.

16 – British troops repel invading Yemeni troops in Aden.

16 – The Royal Ballet, created by charter from the Sadler Wells Ballet, comes into being.

20Eisenhower and Nixon are sworn in for a second term.

22 – Israeli troops withdraw from Sinai Peninsula.

22 – George Metesky is arrested in Waterbury, Connecticut, and accused of being the Mad Bomber who planted 32 bombs in the New York area of 16 years in the late 1940s and 50s.

23 – In Monaco, Princess Grace has her first child.

25 – Kashmir joins India, defying a UN ruling.

28 – Prince Charles has his first day at prep school.

29 – Danish architect Joern Utzon wins the competition to design the new Sydney Opera House. The cost is estimated at £3.5 million.


01 – UN and Israeli troops clash in Sinai.

05Bill Haley and his Comets arrive at Southampton, England, onboard the Queen Elizabeth, for a British concert tour.

09 – Poland and Japan resume diplomatic relations.

09 – Thousands of Israeli’s protest at the UN demands for a withdrawal of their troops from the Gaza strip.

12 – It is announced in the USA that Borazon, a material harder than diamonds, has been made.

15 – Gromyko replaces Shepilov as Soviet Foreign Minister.

16 – Toddler’s Truce (a piece of British television scheduling policy requiring transmissions to terminate for an hour each weekday between 6 pm and 7 pm so that young children could be put to bed) is abandoned.

17 – Nasser wants to keep the Suez Canal closed to bring pressure on Israel to quit Gaza and Sinai.

21 – Rock ‘n’ Roll is banned in Indonesia.

22 – The Vulcan bomber enters service in the RAF.

28 – In the UK, Vauxhall releases its new Victor saloon which does 40 miles per gallon.


01 – Israel bows to UN and US pressure and agrees to pull out of Gaza and Aqaba.

06 – Israel hands over Gaza to UN troops.

06 – The colony of the Gold Coast, now styled Ghana, becomes independent within the Commonwealth of Nations. Tens of thousands gather in the capital, Accra, to greet the independent country’s first prime minister, Dr Kwame Nkrumah.

07 – Ghana joins the United Nations. It is the first black African country to become independent.

08 – The Suez Canal reopens for smaller ships following the clearance after Egyptian sabotage, though the last obstructions are not removed for another two months.

11 – Three witnesses declare that they have seen the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland.

11 – Nasser claims Gaza and appoints a Governor.

12 – The US reminds Nasser that Gaza is now under UN control.

14 – A BEA Vickers Viscount crashes on the edge of Manchester Ringway airport, close to a housing estate, killing 22.

15 – Nasser decides to bar Israeli ships from the Suez Canal.

17 – BEA withdraws their fleet of Viscount 701s from service after the crash at Manchester.

21President Eisenhower and Prime Minister MacMillan meet in Bermuda and announce that the US will provide the UK with guided missiles.

22 – San Francisco is hit by the worst tremors since the great earthquake of 1906.

25 – “Treaty of Rome” is signed by ‘The Six’: Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, beginning the European Economic Community (EEC), or “Common Market”.

28 – Britain frees Archbishop Makarios.

29 – ‘Sundew’ wins the Grand National at Aintree.


01 – The BBC receives a mixed reaction to a spoof documentary broadcast this evening about spaghetti crops in Switzerland. The hoax Panorama programme, narrated by distinguished broadcaster Richard Dimbleby and broadcast for April Fools’ Day, features a family from Ticino in Switzerland carrying out their annual spaghetti harvest.

02 – Britain hands over the Simonstown naval base just outside Cape Town to South Africa.

11 – The British government grants self-rule to the island of Singapore.

12 – US customs seize a copy of Allen Ginsberg‘s poem Howl for obscenity.

17 – New Indian Congress movement formed by Nehru.

20 – US resumes aid to Israel.

25 – King Hussein proclaims martial law in Jordan.

24 – Patrick Moore presents the first episode of the long-running astronomy television show The Sky At Night on the BBC.

26 – The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Malta warns dance organisers “not to burden themselves with the responsibility of ruining souls by allowing rock & roll”.

30 – The US Sixth Fleet arrives in Beirut amid tension.


01 – 31 die when a troop plane crashes at Blackbushe Airport in Hampshire, England.

02Joseph McCarthy, aged 48, dies of liver disease brought on by years of alcoholism.

03 – South Africa drops God Save The Queen as its national anthem.

05 – British actor Richard E Grant is born in Swaziland.

10 – USSR asks Britain and US to stop atom bomb tests.

15 – Britain explodes its first nuclear bomb, at Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean.

15 – Billy Graham begins crusade in New York.

15 – Footballer Stanley Matthews plays his last game for England in a 23-year-long international career.

26 – Algerian Muslim leader Ali Chekkal is assassinated at the French football cup final.

29 – Cupholders Real Madrid beat Italian side Fiorentina 2-0 in the second European Cup Final.

31 – American playwright Arthur Miller is convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to name alleged Communist writers to the House of Representatives Un-American Activities Committee.


01 – First Premium Bond prize is drawn in Britain by ERNIE.

03 – Noel Coward returns to Britain from the West Indies amid criticism that he is living abroad to avoid paying income tax.

05 – ‘Crepello’ wins the Derby, ridden by Lester Piggott.

06 – Britain hands control of Christmas Island over to Australia.

09 – The headless body of a Royal Navy frogman is washed ashore near Chichester Harbour. It is later identified as Commander Lionel “Buster” Crabb, who went missing when examining the ship which brought Soviet leaders Bulganin and Khrushchev to the UK the previous year.

21 – Conservative John Diefenbaker becomes Canadian PM.

23 – Three Britons are jailed in Cairo for spying.

27 – The town of Cameron, Louisiana, is flattened by Hurricane Audrey, killing 400 people.

29 – A Bristol Britannia completes the first non-stop flight by a civil aircraft from London to the US Pacific Coast. It flies the 5,100 miles in 14 hours 40 minutes.

30 – The three Britons arrested for spying in Cairo are released and fly home.


03 – Molotov, Shepilov and Malenkov are all pushed from power in USSR.

06 – American Althea Gibson wins Wimbledon final. She is Wimbledon’s first black champion.

07 – State of Emergency and internment without trial are introduced in Eire.

12 – The US Surgeon General reports link “of direct cause and effect” between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.

16 – A US Navy Crusader aircraft flies non-stop across America (2,460 miles) in 3 hours 23.5 minutes.

20 – British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan makes an optimistic speech telling fellow Conservatives that “most of our people have never had it so good”.

20 – Stirling Moss wins the British Grand Prix.

25 – Habib Bourguiba is elected president of Tunisia and abolishes the monarchy.


01 – A £17 million expansion scheme for Heathrow Airport is announced in London.

03 – Tunku Abdul Rahman is elected for a five-year term as head of state of Malaya.

05 – After local success, Dick Clark’s Philadelphia-based TV show American Bandstand is broadcast nationally across the US for the first time.

07 – Oliver Hardy, the pompous and indignant half of comedy duo Laurel and Hardy, dies aged 65 in California.

09 – The state of emergency is revoked in Cyprus.

15 – Cheddi Jagan forms government in British Guiana.

17 – 20 people are arrested in Northern Ireland after a booby-trap bomb kills a policeman.

20 – A USAAF pilot sets a world altitude record of 102,000 feet in a specially equipped balloon.

28 – US Senator Strom Thurmond makes a 24-hour-long speech in a failed attempt to block a civil rights bill.

31 – Malaysia becomes independent after 170 years of British rule.


01 – 173 people die in a rail crash in Jamaica.

03 – In America, the Federal District Court orders Little Rock, Arkansas, to end segregation in its schools immediately.

04 – Governor Faubus of Arkansas sends State troops to stop nine black children going to a white school in Little Rock.

04 – Egypt and Syria form economic union.

04 – The 155-page “Report on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution” – known as the Wolfenden report – is published in the UK, recommending many changes to existing laws. The report suggests that homosexual behaviour between consenting adults should no longer be a criminal offence.

08 – Stirling Moss wins the Italian Grand Prix.

14 – Britain conducts its first atomic test at the Maralinga site in the Australian desert.

15 – Christian Democrats win German elections.

19 – In the desert outside Las Vegas, the US Atomic Energy Commission detonates first underground atomic blast.

21 – King Haakon VII of Norway dies and Crown Prince Olaf is crowned King Olaf V.

21 – St George retain the Australian Rugby League title after defeating Manly 31-9 in the Grand Final in Sydney.

23 – Dr Francois ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier wins the Presidential election in Haiti.

24 – BBC Schools Service is inaugurated on British television.

24 – 1,000 US Army paratroopers are called in by President Eisenhower to ensure the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, which had been thwarted by Governor Orval Faubus.


26 – Dag Hammarskjöld is re-appointed UN Secretary-General.

30 – The remains of Captain Bligh’s Bounty are found off Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific Ocean.


01 – The Mackinac Bridge in Michigan (USA) is opened to traffic and becomes the world’s longest suspension bridge.

01 – A vaccine against the strain of influenza currently sweeping around the world is made available to the British public. The so-called Asian Flu pandemic has already killed thousands of people around the globe – many of them in the United States.

04 – A Russian satellite named Sputnik is launched from Baikonur in the USSR. It is the first man-made object ever to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.

10 – The worst nuclear accident in Great Britain’s history occurs when the core of the Unit 1 nuclear reactor at Windscale, Cumberland (now Sellafield, Cumbria) catches fire, releasing substantial amounts of radioactive contamination into the surrounding area. No one is evacuated from the surrounding area, but milk from the nearby countryside is diluted and destroyed for about a month.

12 – Queen Elizabeth II visits Canada.

13 – A London newspaper discloses that the Indian actress Anna Kashfi, whom Marlon Brando has just discretely married is, in fact, the daughter of an English father and Welsh mother, grew up in Cardiff and is named Joan O’Callaghan.

14 – Tear gas is used to dispel riots in Johannesburg (South Africa) after Rock Around The Clock is shown there. Three European youths are sentenced to a whipping for disturbing the peace.

24 – French fashion designer Christian Dior dies, aged 52.

29 – Cuban dictator Batista suspends constitution.

29 – Israeli premier Ben-Gurion and several ministers are injured when a grenade is thrown into the Knesset in Tel Aviv.

30 – The British Government unveils plans to reform the House of Lords and admit women for the first time.

31 – In Melbourne (Australia), William John O’Meally and John Henry Taylor are sentenced to 12 lashes for shooting a warder during their breakout from Pentridge prison on 29 March.


03 – The USSR launches Sputnik II, carrying an Eskimo dog called Laika. At the time it was reported that Laika had survived for several days in orbit, but it was revealed in 2002 that she died of overheating and panic not long after takeoff. But she had by then served her purpose in proving that a living being could survive takeoff, and opened up the possibility of humans undertaking space travel.

05 – ‘Straight Draw’ wins the Melbourne Cup.

06 – Cambodia declares neutrality.

08 – An inquiry into last month’s fire at Cumberland’s Windscale nuclear power plant blames the accident on a combination of human error, poor management and faulty instruments.

11 – Internal self-government begins for Jamaica.

14 – Queen Elizabeth II abolishes court presentation of debutantes.

15 – 43 people die when a Solent flying-boat from Aquila Airways bound for Lisbon from Southampton crashes into a quarry near Newport on the Isle of Wight.

19 – Antonin Novotny becomes Czech President following the death of Antonin Zapotocky on 13 November.

25 – US President Eisenhower suffers a stroke that leaves his speech impaired.


02 – Holland bars entry to Indonesians.

04 – 88 people die in the Lewisham train disaster in London, England.

05 – All Dutch nationals are expelled from Indonesia.

06 – The Vanguard rocket blows up on the launchpad in America’s first attempt to launch a satellite into space.

09 – Pop star Donny Osmond is born.

13 – A violent earthquake in Iran kills over 2,000 people.

18 – America’s first atomic power plant begins operation at Shippingport, Pennsylvania.

19 – The first regular London-Moscow air service is introduced.

25 – Queen Elizabeth II makes her first televised Christmas broadcast.

28 – The Stanley abattoir in Liverpool (the largest in the north of England) is shut down after foot-and-mouth disease is found in cattle waiting to be slaughtered.


Also this year . . .

  • US occupation forces leave Japan.
  • Dr Seuss’s first Cat In The Hat book is published.
  • Combined TV and Radio Licence goes up from £1 to £4.

Quotes of the year

“Most of our people have never had it so good”
Harold Macmillan, British Prime Minister