Home Decades 1950s 1959



01 – The dictator of Cuba, Fulgencio Batista, is overthrown by Fidel Castro‘s guerrillas and flees to the Dominican Republic.

02Fidel Castro proclaims a new government in Cuba.

02 – The USSR launches lunar rocket Luna 1 in an attempt to reach the Moon. The projectile misses and goes into orbit around the Sun.

03 – Alaska becomes the 49th state of the USA.

04 – Rioting in Belgian Congo.

08Fidel Castro, leader of the Cuban revolution and now President, makes a triumphant entry into Havana with his right-hand man Che Guevara.

08De Gaulle is inaugurated as the first President of the Fifth Republic in Paris.

14 – Chas Smash (Carl Smith) from Madness is born.

17 – Senegal and French Sudan unite to form Mali.

21 – American film director Cecil B de Mille dies in California, aged 77.

22 – British champion racing driver Mike Hawthorn (29) is killed in a car accident while driving his sports car on the Guildford bypass near his home in Surrey.

26 – Darwin, in Northern Australia, becomes a city.


01 – Swiss referendum turns down votes for women.

02 – Mrs Indira Gandhi is elected President of India’s ruling Congress Party. She is the only daughter of India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

03 – American singers Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper die in a plane crash near Mason City, Iowa, USA. The young pilot, Roger Peterson, perishes also.


07 – Dr Daniel Francois Malan, a lifelong campaigner for white supremacy in South Africa and the Prime Minister who denied the vote to mixed-race Coloured voters, dies aged 84.

09 – US supplies arms to Indonesia.

10 – A tornado strikes St Louis (USA) killing 19 people and injuring 265.

16 – US tennis player John ‘Superbrat’ McEnroe is born.

17 – A Turkish government Viscount jet carrying the Turkish prime minister, Mr Menderes, to Britain, crashes at Gatwick Airport with the loss of 15 lives. Mr Menderes is unhurt.

17Vanguard 2, the first US weather satellite in space, is launched into orbit.

19 – Prince Andrew is born in Britain. The first birth to a reigning monarch since 1857.

21 – British PM Macmillan and Selwyn Lloyd visit USSR.

23 – European Court of Human Rights has first meeting.

23 – Linda Nolan (The Nolans) is born.

26 – State of Emergency declared in Southern Rhodesia by the colony’s British Premier, Sir Edgar Whitehead. African nationalist parties are dissolved.


01 – Archbishop Makarios returns home to Cyprus to a rapturous welcome from Greek Cypriots.

03 – The US Senate approves statehood for Hawaii with the Hawaii Admission Act.

04 – Comedian Lou Costello (of Abbott and Costello fame) dies in Hollywood, California.

07 – Kanyama Chiume, one of the leaders of the Nyasaland African Congress (NAC) flees to London and goes into hiding.

16 – Iraq receives loan from USSR.

17 – Dalai Lama flees to India.

19 – Terry Hall (The Specials) is born.

21 – ‘Oxo’ wins the Grand National at Aintree.

24 – Iraq pulls out of Baghdad Pact.

26 – American author Raymond Chandler dies aged 70 (b. 23/7/1888).

27 – 3,300 are reported dead in Madagascar after the island is hit by a hurricane.

28 – Mau Mau prisoners die at Hola Camp in Kenya.

30 – 10,000 CND marchers congregate in Trafalgar Square, London.

30 – Compulsory military training ends in New Zealand.

31 – Burglars steal £10,000 from Sir Winston Churchill‘s home.


01 – Escaping an army of Chinese pursuers, the Dalai Lama reaches safety in India.

07 – Oklahoma repeals prohibition after 51 years, leaving Mississippi the only “dry” state in the US.

09 – NASA tells Congress that they will have a man on the moon within ten years. The first seven astronauts are named as Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Virgil Grissom, Walter Schirra, Alan Shepard and Donald Slayton.

10 – Brian Setzer (The Stray Cats) is born

11 – Bobby Charlton scores the only goal in England’s 1-0 defeat of Scotland at Wembley.

15Fidel Castro arrives in Washington DC on an 11-day visit to the US.

15 – Actress Emma Thompson is born in London.

17 – Malaya and Indonesia sign friendship pact.

17 – Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis releases his seminal album Kind of Blue.

22 – Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother have an audience with Pope John at the Vatican.

22 – World famous British ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn arrives in New York after spending 24 hours in a Panama City jail. Panamanian police are still hunting her husband, Dr Roberto Arias, a former Panamanian ambassador in London, suspected of planning a coup against the government of President Ernesto de la Guarda.

26 – Cuba invades Panama.

29 – Actress Michelle Pfeiffer is born in California.


02 – Nottingham Forest defeat Luton Town 2-1 in the FA Cup Final.

06 – UK protests to Iceland about violence in ‘cod war’.

06 – A Picasso is sold in London for £55,000 – a world record for a living artist.

14 – Donald Campbell sets a water-speed record of 260.35 mph in the UK.

15 – The Jodrell Bank radio telescope in Britain transmits radio messages to the US via the moon.

22 – The American state of Alabama bans a children’s book because it shows a black rabbit marrying a white one.

24 – Former US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles loses his two-year fight with cancer.

24 – Britain and the USSR sign a five-year trade pact.

25Khrushchev visits Albania.

25 – The town of South Coast in Queensland, Australia, becomes the city of Gold Coast.

27 – A delegation of blacks urges the UK Home Office to defuse racial tensions in the London suburb of Notting Hill.

28 – A nose-cone containing a rhesus monkey called Able and a squirrel monkey called Baker is launched from Cape Canaveral for a 300-mile flight into space and later recovered.

30 – In France, work begins on a tunnel beneath Mont Blanc.


02 – Able, the seven-pound rhesus monkey who orbited the Earth in company with a one-pound squirrel monkey named Baker, dies in the US as an electrode is removed from his brain.

03 – Self-government for Singapore.

03 – ‘Parthia’ wins the Derby.

04 – American sugar mills in Cuba nationalised.

09 – The US launches the nuclear submarine George Washington.

17 – De Valera becomes President of Eire.

17 – Liberace wins £8,000 in damages from Britain’s Daily Mirror after the newspaper – in its ‘Cassandra’ column – implied the entertainer was homosexual.

18 – Over 50,000 black South Africans take to the streets incensed at a Cato Manor slum clearance scheme and a ban on home-brewed beer. They burn cars, houses, offices and bars and engage in running battles with police firing sten guns (pictured).


18 – Brigitte Bardot marries Jacques Charrier in Paris.

22 – Directors of leading London store Harrods urge shareholders to vote for a merger with the Debenhams department chain. The directors have been meeting to consider two merger proposals – one from Debenhams and another, as yet unofficial, proposal from Hugh Fraser, head of House of Fraser.

23 – Jazzman Louis Armstrong suffers a mild heart attack in the US.

26 – The 2,300-mile St Lawrence Seaway in Canada is opened by Queen Elizabeth II and President Eisenhower.

26 – Swedish heavyweight boxer Ingemar Johansson defeats reigning champion Floyd Patterson at New York’s Yankee Stadium to become the new heavyweight champion – the first non-American champion since Italy’s Primo Carnera 25 years ago (pictured).



01 – Dr Heinrich Luebke is elected West Germany’s second President.

05 – 80,000 people turn out in Sydney, Australia, to see the first Qantas jet – an American Boeing 707.

06 – The Saar becomes part of West Germany.

06 – A rabbit and two dogs are reported by the USSR to have returned safely from a flight into space.

17 – The skull of an early hominid, named Australopithecus, is discovered in Tanzania.

17 – Blues singer Billie Holiday dies, aged just 44.

18 – In Cuba, Fidel Castro ousts President Urrutia and takes over the presidency.

24 – US Vice President Richard Nixon makes a televised address denouncing Communism to the Soviet People during his 11-day tour of the USSR. He warns that they will “live in tension and fear” if Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev attempts to spread Communism beyond the borders of the USSR.

25 – First hovercraft crossing of English Channel. The British craft crosses in two hours.

30 – An anti-government Communist rebellion breaks out in Laos.


07 – Buckingham Palace announces that The Queen is expecting a third child early in the New Year.

08 – The first picture of the world from outer space is transmitted from US satellite Explorer 6 and broadcast on television.

08 – Australian aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira dies, aged 57, in Alice Springs Hospital of a heart attack brought on by influenza.

10 – Violent storms lash the south of England.

12 – 1,000 demonstrators in Little Rock, Arkansas, protest against desegregation by marching on Central High School to prevent black students from entering. Local police stop the march using truncheons and fire hoses, arresting over 20 people for inciting violence or defying police orders.


13 – A fire at the Rolls -Royce factory in Leicester causes £1 million worth of damage.

15 – St George defeat Manly 20-0 in the Australian Rugby League Grand Final to go through their season unbeaten.

18 – The M1 motorway route is changed to save a forest.

21 – Hawaii becomes the 50th state of the USA.

27 – A Polaris missile is fired at sea – meaning that intercontinental ballistic missiles need no longer be land-based.

27 – US President Eisenhower arrives in London for talks with Prime Minister Macmillan.

31 – British prime minister Harold Macmillan and American president Dwight Eisenhower give a historic live television broadcast from Downing Street. Among the subjects the two leaders discuss are world peace and global poverty.


12 – USSR launch Lunik II, a second rocket aimed at the moon. This one successfully crash lands on the moon on 14 September. Onboard are various scientific instruments for measuring the magnetic fields of the Moon and the Earth, among other things. The US rejects the Russian flag-planting as legal claim to rule the Moon.

13 – Stirling Moss wins the Italian Grand Prix.

15 – Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev begins a 13-day visit to the USA (pictured). He enjoys American hot dogs but is angered when security officials deny him entry to Disneyland.


18 – 47 miners die after an outbreak of fire at Auchengeich Colliery in Scotland.

18Khrushchev addresses United Nations on disarmament.

22 – UN refuses to admit Communist China.

24 – Rolls-Royce launches its new £8,905 Phantom V.

25Khrushchev visits China.

25 – Prime Minister Bandaranaike of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) is assassinated by a Buddhist monk.

26 – Over 5,000 people are killed when Typhoon Vera hits the Japanese island of Honshu.


04 – Soviet lunar satellite Lunik III is launched and circles the Moon, photographing the far side.

07 – Popular singer Mario Lanza (born Alfredo Arnold Cocozza in 1921) dies in Rome.

07 – 300 people are rescued after being cut off by a blaze on the world’s longest pleasure pier at Southend in Essex on England’s south-east coast. The visitors became stranded when a large wooden pavilion at the shore end of the pier caught fire in the early evening.

07 – In London, Louis Leakey exhibits the skull of the earliest known precursor to man.

09 – The Conservative government is re-elected in Britain with a resounding majority. Prime Minister Harold Macmillan says “it has gone off rather well”.

14 – Movie legend Errol Flynn dies of a heart attack in Vancouver, aged 50. The coroner who examined his body – long ravaged by drink and drugs – said he had the body of an old, sick and tired man. He leaves his immense fortune ($50 million) to his estranged third wife, Patrice Wymore.

21 – The Guggenheim Museum in New York opens its doors to the public.

23 – 17 Indian soldiers die in a clash with the Chinese on the Kashmir border.

26 – The first ever pictures of the dark side of the moon, usually invisible from Earth, are sent back by the Soviet Lunik III spacecraft.


01 – Congolese nationalist leader Patrice Lumumba is arrested after anti-white Congo riots.

02 – First section of the M1 (London – Birmingham motorway) is opened.

03 – Ben-Gurion’s Labour Party wins the Israeli general election.

03 – ‘Macdougal’ wins the Melbourne Cup in Australia.

03 – Charles Van Doren, questioned about winning $129,000 on Twenty-One, a US television quiz show, tells a congressional committee that he was given the answers in advance.

10 – United Nations condemns apartheid and racism.

10 – The state of emergency in Kenya ends.

11 – The epic film Ben Hur premiers in London.

17 – De Beers diamond firm in South Africa announces that synthetic diamonds have been made.

20 – The United Nations bans France’s nuclear tests in the Sahara.

26 – In London, the House of Lords oppose the introduction of commercial radio.

20/29 – The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is set up, consisting of Great Britain, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark and Sweden.


01 – 12 countries, including the USA and the Soviet Union, sign a pact to preserve Antarctica.

01 – Australian rugby league great Walter James (Wally) Lewis is born.

02 – The Malpasset Dam in southern France collapses, flooding the town of Frejus and killing over 400 people.

04 – Sam the monkey returns safely to Earth from 55 miles out in space.

04 – China pardons 33 war criminals including former Emperor Pu Yi.

09 – North Sea gales claim 27 lives as two ships sink.

09 – Britain resumes relations with United Arab Republic.

09 – US President Eisenhower visits India and addresses the country’s parliaments.

10 – US begins to pull troops out of Iceland.

13 – UN say they will not intervene in Algerian problem.

14 – Archbishop Makarios is elected first President of the new republic of Cyprus.

20 – The cross-channel hovercraft comes into service.

21 – The Shah of Iran weds former shepherdess Farah Dibah.

30 – Comedian and pop singer Tracey Ullman is born.

Also this year . . .

  • The average British male manual worker earns £13/2/11 per week
  • 620,728 unemployed in UK