The Queen has lived through many changes during her seventy-year reign. Robert Veitch looks back through time and reports on events that have happened during the Queen’s royal timeline, both locally and worldwide.
The Queen was born on 21st April 1926 to a father that was second in line to the throne. Also hatched that year were; Sir George Martin, Leslie Nielsen, Kenneth Williams, Sir David Attenborough, Marilyn Monroe, and Fidel Castro. Despatches that year, but overlapping with the Queen’s life for a few weeks, included; Claud Monet, Annie Oakley and Harry Houdini. Elsewhere, a future resident of Hastings and Bexhill called John Logie Baird transmitted the first television images and Hartfield resident AA Milne published Winnie the Pooh.
In 1951 Princess Elizabeth visits Hastings, Chichester, Brighton and Lewes.
Then on 6th February 1952, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary acceded to the throne upon the death of her father, George VI. Elsewhere in 1952 The UK develops its’ first atomic bomb and the New Musical Express (NME) is published for the first time, the summer Olympics take place in Helsinki and Eva Peron dies in Buenos Aires.
The coronation takes place on 2nd June and coronation chicken is served for the first time at the Queen’s coronation banquet. Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reach the summit of Mount Everest. Neville Duke speeds to 727mph, over the Littlehampton coast to break the world air speed record. And… after 41 years, the Piltdown Man is exposed as a fraud.
HMS Britannia enters service in April, her first cruise is from Portsmouth to Malta. On 6th May Roger Bannister runs the first sub four-minute mile in Oxford, although fellow athlete Chris Chataway is crowned the first BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Rationing finally ends on 4th July.
ITV begins broadcasting. The Queen’s first Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, stands down. Across the Atlantic; Ray Kroc purchases a small chain of fast food outlets called McDonalds and Jim Henson introduces Kermit the Frog to a TV audience for the first time.
During the Suez crisis, Anthony Eden has talks with France, proposing they join the Commonwealth. Elsewhere in Europe; the first Eurovision Song Contest takes place in Lugano; it’s a home win for the Swiss, but the UK aren’t involved. Across the pond, Elvis Presley releases Heartbreak Hotel and Charlton Heston stars in Cecille B DeMille's The Ten Commandments.
On 24th April Selsey’s Patrick Moore presents his first The Sky at Night and the Soviet Union launches Sputnik. the Gold Coast and Togoland gain independence to become Ghana. The Cavern Club opens, while elsewhere in Liverpool, John Lennon and Paul McCartney meet for the first time.
The European Economic Community comes into being on 1st January. During June, the Queen flies in to open the new Gatwick Airport. The Preston By-pass (M6) becomes the UK’s first motorway. Carry On Sergeant is the first in the series of 30 Carry On films and on October 16th Blue Peter is broadcast for the first time.
Christopher Cockerell’s first hovercraft crosses the English Channel on 25th July, exactly 50 years after Louis Bleriot had first flown it. Fidel Castro becomes Cuban Prime Minister on 16th February. Cliff Richard has his first number one single with Living Doll and Buddy Holly dies in a plane crash on ‘the day the music died’.
The Bluebell Railway opens and becomes the world’s first heritage railway. Prince Andrew is born at Buckingham Palace and the farthing ceases to be legal tender. The 21-year-old Ken Barlow appears in the first episode of Coronation Street and becomes an ever-present character, while in America The Flinstones airs for the first time.
Tottenham Hotspur become the first football club to complete the ‘League and Cup double’ in the 20th century. The films Breakfast at Tiffany’s and West Side Story are both released, and on 4th August Barack Obama is born in Honolulu. Closer to home Gone with the Wind’s Vivien Leigh moves to Blackboys.
On 23rd April Stirling Moss crashes at Goodwood and is in a coma for a month; it ends his F1 career. Laurence Olivier becomes artistic director of Chichester Festival Theatre and the Queen visits Brighton College, and on 5th October unknown Scottish actor, Sean Connery, stars in the first James Bond film, Dr. No.
The Beatles She Loves You hits the top of the singles charts, Mary Quant designs the ‘first’ mini skirt and the BBC airs the first episode of Doctor Who. The Great Train Robbery takes place and Dr Beeching releases The Reshaping of British Railways. John Kennedy visits Forest Row in June and is assassinated in Dallas on 22nd November.
The building of the Post Office Tower is completed and the Forth Road Bridge is opened. The Queen visits The University of Sussex and Prince Edward is born at Buckingham Palace. In Sussex, the final race at Lewes Racecourse takes place on 14th September.
The 20th anniversary of the end of WWII is marked by the Queen’s first official visit to West Germany. Winston Churchill dies at Chartwell. The Rolling Stones release (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, while Thunderbirds and The Magic Roundabout are broadcast for the first time. The Austin 1100, Ford Cortina and the Mini are the best-selling cars of the year.
England win a football tournament on a well-attended playing field in north-west London. The first commercial cross channel hovercraft service begins. Caesars Palace opens in Las Vegas. The South Downs are designated an area of Outstanding Area of Natural Beauty. The Queen visits the site of the Aberfan disaster and the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea.
The Queen opens the Isaac Newton telescope at The Royal Greenwich Observatory in Herstmonceux. Donald Campbell is killed when Bluebird crashes on Coniston Water. 100-1 shot Foinavon wins the Grand National and Sandie Shaw, with Puppet on a String, wins the Eurovision Song Contest for Royaume Uni, for the first time.
Martin Luther King is assassinated in Memphis and Robert Kennedy is assassinated in Los Angeles. The first episode of Dad’s Army airs and the Boeing 747 is unveiled in Seattle. Bob Beamon leaps to a long jump world record of 8.90m at the Mexico City Olympics and Apollo 8 transports the first humans into lunar orbit.
Neil Armstrong makes ‘one small step for (a) man’ on 20th July, the Harrier 'jump jet' enters service, the QEII undertakes her maiden voyage and Ford launch the Capri. Elsewhere the Space hopper toy and Raleigh Chopper are introduced. Rolling Stone Brian Jones ‘drowns’ in his Hartfield swimming pool and The Beatles perform in public for the last time.
The Queen undertakes the first royal ‘walkabout’ in Sydney. The 10th National Jazz and Blues Festival takes place at Plumpton with Olivia Newton John in the audience; it moves location the following year and becomes The Reading Festival. Jimi Hendrix dies in Notting Hill on 18th September.
On 15th February the UK switches to decimalisation. The Who frontman, Roger Daltrey, moves to Burwash, Frederick Forsyth publishes The Day of The Jackal, and Roger Hargreaves publishes Mr Tickle. Idi Amin becomes President of Uganda in a military coup and Evel Knievel jumps over 19 cars on his motorbike in California.
On 30th April the Brighton Belle makes its final journey from London Victoria to Brighton and on 24th May the M6 Gravelly Hill Interchange at Spaghetti Junction opens to traffic. More sedately, The South Downs Way is created. Bobby Fischer defeats Boris Spassky to become world chess champion and on October 16th the first episode of Emmerdale Farm is broadcast.
The UK enter the Common Market on 1st January, The World Trade Center opens in New York, Pink Floyd release Dark Side of the Moon and the first Brighton Pride takes place. The second 'Cod War' takes place off the coast of Iceland and British Leyland launch the Austin Allegro... later nicknamed the All-Agro.
The administrative areas of East and West Sussex are created. Abba’s Waterloo wins the Eurovision Song Contest at the Brighton Dome, the British jury award nul points. Eddie Mercx wins his fifth Tour de France and Muhammad Ali defeats George Foreman at ‘The Rumble in the Jungle’ in Zaire. Richard Nixon resigns over the Watergate scandal; seemingly every scandal thereafter is appended ‘gate’ as a result.
Having left his car in Newhaven the year before and ‘disappeared’, Lord Lucan is found guilty in absentia of murdering Sandra Rivett. Brian Clough is appointed manager of Nottingham Forest and Muhammad Ali defeats Joe Frazier in the 'Thrilla in Manila'. Steven Spielberg releases Jaws, a film that helps revitalise cinema and Bohemian Rhapsody becomes Christmas number one.
Concorde enters transatlantic service with British Airways and Air France, while British Rail introduce the InterCity 125. Danehill resident, Maurice Gibb, and the rest of the Bee Gees go disco and start work on Saturday Night Fever. The long hot summer lasts from 23rd June to 27th August with daily temperatures exceeding 26°C. James Hunt wins the Formula 1 world title by a point from Niki Lauda.
Fleetwood Mac release Rumours, Meatloaf releases Bat out of Hell and the Sex Pistols release God Save The Queen just in time for the Silver Jubilee. The final episode of Dad’s Army is broadcast, Charlie Chaplin dies in Switzerland and Star Wars opens at cinemas. On 15th November the Queen becomes a grandmother when Princess Anne gives birth to Peter Phillips.
The Cure are formed in Crawley start recording the first of 28 albums. The Queen opens the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee School in Horsham. The first Birdman of Bognor takes place. Louise Brown becomes the world’s first ‘test tube’ baby, the first 'space invaders' game is launched and Radio 4 broadcasts The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
In March the Queen opens Brighton Marina, while later in the year those in search of an all over tan head to the UK’s first official naturist beach at Brightons' Black Rock. Brighton also becomes the backdrop for the film, Quadrophenia. Elsewhere, the Monty Python team release Life of Brian, the UK elects its first female Prime Minister and 58-year-old Christopher Robin returns to the restored Poohsticks Bridge for one last game of poohsticks.
Brighton’s Steve Ovett wins 800m Olympic Gold at the Moscow Summer Olympics and Brighton’s Robin Cousins wins figures skating gold at the Lake Placid Winter Olympics, while Crawley’s Alan Minter becomes world middleweight boxing champion. The SAS storm the Iranian Embassy and John Lennon is assassinated in New York.
On 29th July, amid national euphoria, Charles and Di marry at St Paul’s Cathedral, the first London Marathon finishes in a dead heat and the UK's J.Lyons & Co Corner House serves its final tea and cake. last Del Boy and Rodney make their first screen appearances in Only Fools and Horses and Columbia, the first Space Shuttle completes its maiden flight. There's a fairytale finish to the Grand National as cancer survivor Bob Champion rides Findon's previously lame, Aldaniti, to victory.
On 5th February, low cost airline pioneer and Skytrain operator Freddie Laker’s Laker Airways collapses. Argentina invades the Falkland Islands but war is over by June 14th. Prince William is born on 21st June, the first compact disc is sold, and Clive Sinclair revolutionises home computing with the ZX Spectrum. Channel 4 begins broadcasting, and on Boxing Day features a story by Ditchling’s Raymond Briggs called The Snowman, which will be broadcast every Christmas thereafter.
The 150 mile Sussex Border Path is created, and the wearing of seat belts in the front seats of cars becomes compulsory and the Austin Mini Metro is Britain's best-selling car. The FA Cup final between Brighton & Hove Albion and Manchester United finishes 2-2, but United win the replay. On 4th October Richard Noble speeds to 633mph in Thrust II to bring the Land Speed Record back to the UK.
The Queen makes her first visit to the Ardingly Show, the Grand Hotel in Brighton is bombed by the IRA, the miners go on strike and Robert Maxwell buys the Daily Mirror. Future Heathfield resident, Jayne Torvill, wins Winter Olympic gold in Sarajevo with partner Christopher Dean, performing Bolero. On 23rd October a news report by Michael Buerk about ‘a biblical famine’ in Ethiopia becomes a catalyst for change around the world.
Mohamed Al-Fayed purchases Harrods, the wreck of the Titanic is located and Mikhail Gorbachev becomes leader of the Soviet Union. Cristiano Ronaldo is born on the island of Madeira and Rock Hudson dies of AIDS in California. The Ramsays and the Robinsons make their first UK Neighbours appearance. Live Aid ‘the global jukebox’ rocks the world on 13th July.
The Queen visits Chichester Cathedral for the Maundy Thursday service. Former Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan dies at home in Horsted Keynes. A nuclear accident occurs at Chernobyl, in what was then the USSR but is currently Ukraine. Sussex beat Lancashire at Lords to win the NatWest Trophy, and on Christmas Day, more than 30 million people watch Dirty Den give Angie divorce papers during Eastenders.
Pagham’s Derek Bell wins the Le Mans 24-hours for a fifth time. Worthing, Bognor Regis and Brighton all feature in the Emily Lloyd film, Wish You Were Here. Dame Edna Everage hosts 'her' first episode of The Dame Edna Experience on ITV. On the 15-16th October ‘The Great Storm’ batters England and fells around 15 million trees. In November, the first issue of Magnet magazine is published.