You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

A 1950s home - we never-never had it so good

Posted on 28 December 2016

The appliances that helped change Britain’s buying habits

In the first half of the last century, credit was a few groceries ‘on tick’ before payday. Then came the boom of the 1950s, fuelled by rising wages and the famous claim that we’d ‘never had it so good’.

Suddenly there were appliances for every job and high tech home entertainment to fill all our newfound spare time. But the latest must-haves were way beyond the means of most families.

To get your hands on one meant saving hard or buying on the never-never… because it felt like you never paid it off and never actually owned it!

1950s-ad-for-washing-machine-prices-at-£30

Here we look back at some of the budget busting, built-to-last home comforts of that time. Are any of yours still going strong after all these years?

A rented television set

Our love of television really started with the Coronation in 1953. But it took a few more years for a black and white set to arrive in most homes, and even then it was rented as they were just too expensive to buy.

In 1960 the rent on a TV was around £11-12-6. That’s almost £250 for just one year. You could buy a 48” LCD HD TV with that today!

group-of-people-huddled-around-a-tv-set-in-the-sitting-room

The revolutionary radiogram

If a radiogram or stereogram took pride of place in your sitting room, your family had arrived! It was the latest audio technology and a piece of furniture all rolled into one.

In 1955 a Murphy A242R Radiogram cost an eye watering £113 0s. 0d, which was around 3 months wages for the average earner at that time and almost £2800 in today’s money.

young-couple-with-their-son-sitting-proudly-by-their-radiogram

The must-have transistor radio

The world’s first truly portable radio launched in 1954 and teenagers everywhere began saving hard to own one. A Bush B.A.C 31 cost £17 10 shillings – the best part of £400 now. Today a teenager’s smartphone can cost more than this!

1960s-teenager-holding-a-transistor-radio-to-her-ear

The Dansette was another portable dream

This portable record player fast became another teenage favourite. The Dansette Junior and De Luxe were big hits on HP if Mum and Dad could be persuaded to put the deposit down!

In 1962 a Dansette Popular 4 speed record player cost 11 guineas – about £270 in today’s money, which is what you could pay for a restored one now.

young-couple-relaxing-on-the-floor-in-front-of-a-portable-record-player

Mum said goodbye to the cold shelf in the larder…

A fridge meant the end of mum having to shop every day but could cost the equivalent of over £1000 now – so renting was the only option for most.

The rent man was such a regular visitor he’d usually knock and walk straight in without waiting for an answer. And everyone kept paying long after the fridge was paid for, just in case it broke down (which of course it never did).

1950s-ad-for-latest-gas-fridge-priced-at-£44-18s-0d

…and eventually hung up her mangle

The washing machine was a lifesaver for housewives but not all husbands agreed. Apparently they didn’t need one because they had a wife. Certain grounds for divorce today!

Luckily, the Electromatic Twin Tub brought more business for the rent man. Priced at 39 guineas it was half the price of the flashy American style machines. That’s still over £1000 now.

husband and wife looking at a washing machine on display in a shop

Introducing Ken Wood, king of the modern kitchen

Nothing impressed like a Kenwood Chef (invented by none other than Ken Wood). Owning one meant whipping up a cake or kneading a loaf without losing a bead of sweat.

Such high tech gadgetry came at a price - £19 in 1950 is the best part of £500 in today’s money. Mind you, some are still going strong and, if in top condition, can fetch that much now on ebay!

woman-in-modern-1950s-kitchen-using-a-mixer

And finally, Green Shield Stamps made the world your oyster

At the end of the 1950s, Green Shield Stamps put luxuries and appliances within reach of the masses, or so it seemed.

In 1965 you only needed to fill 33 ¼ books to get a Kenwood Chef. It felt so achievable. But that actually meant spending £1064. That’s £1064 in 1965… you could have bought a house and still had change!

woman with long sheet of green shield stamps outside her new house

Can you remember when the telly or fridge arrived in your home or when mum finally got a vacuum cleaner? Did you save up for ages or get your first gizmo on the never-never? We’d love to hear your stories.

If you’ve enjoyed being whisked back to the first golden age of home technology, you may also enjoy these fabulous memories of a post war childhood and foods that take you back. Or for more old money memories, take a look at what you paid for your first car and your first pay packet.

SunLife offers a range of straightforward and affordable products including over 50s life insurance, funeral plans, life insurance, equity release, pet insurance, home insurance, car insurance, ISAs and Will writing services.

Here's the information that you need to know about who we are and the other companies that we work with in order to provide our products and services.

Who are SunLife? 

Phoenix Life Limited trades as SunLife and is the provider of the Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, SunLife Insurance and the life insurance policy payment option for Funeral Plans. Phoenix Life Limited’s registered office is at 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 1016269). Phoenix Life Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 110418). As part of SunLife’s commitment to quality service and security, telephone calls may be recorded.

SunLife Limited distributes financial products and services and is a company limited by shares, registered office: 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 05460862). SunLife Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 769427).

You can contact us by post at SunLife, PO Box 1395, Peterborough, PE2 2TR or by phone on 0800 008 6060.

If you choose to add Funeral Benefit Option to your Guaranteed Over 50 Plan the funeral services are arranged and provided by Dignity Funerals Limited. Dignity Funerals Limited is a company registered in England and Wales No. 00041598. VAT registered No. 486 6081 14. 4 King Edwards Court, King Edwards Square, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP. Telephone No. 0121 354 1557. Fax No. 0121 355 808. Part of Dignity plc. A British Company. Dignity are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority but are registered providers with the Funeral Planning Authority.

Who provides the Funeral Plans?

The funeral services are arranged by a funeral director selected by Golden Charter Ltd. Golden Charter Ltd are not required to be authorised or regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority in relation to funeral plans but are registered providers with the Funeral Planning Authority.

If you choose to pay for your funeral in one go, with a single payment, you will have a contract with Golden Charter. The funeral services will be arranged by a funeral director selected by Golden Charter Ltd.

If you choose to pay for your funeral with a life insurance policy, the policy will be provided by Phoenix Life Limited, trading as SunLife. The funeral services will be arranged by a funeral director selected by Golden Charter Ltd.

Who provides My Smarter (ISA)?

My Smarter (ISA) is provided by Scottish Friendly Asset Managers Limited. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register, registration No. 188832. Member of The Investment Association. Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ.

Who provides the Will writing services?

Hugh James is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number:303202).

The information contained on this website is based on Hugh James' understanding of the law of intestacy in England and Wales only as at April 2014. The law in Scotland and Northern Ireland is significantly different. This is for information purposes and is not intended to be legal advice.

Who provides Family Life Insurance?

SunLife Family Life Insurance is provided by Scottish Friendly Assurance Society Limited which is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register (registration number 110002). Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ. 

Who provides SunLife Pet Insurance

SunLife Pet Insurance is arranged and administered by BDML Connect Limited. BDML Connect Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 309140). Registered in England and Wales Number 02785540. Registered Office: 45 Westerham Road, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2QB.

Who provides SunLife Home Insurance

SunLife Home Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.

Who provides SunLife Car Insurance

SunLife Car Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.