Great Mistakes of the 1960s


The 1960s was an era of great change and social mobility. It was an era of rapidly rising living standards (see: Economy of 1960s). But, it was also an era of great short sightedness as some bad mistakes were made.

Closure of Railway lines. The Beeching cuts were widely hated in the country. But, Beeching didn't care for popular dissent, he saw the closure of the railways as an economic necessity. Why should government subsidise railways that were unprofitable and no one used any more?

In one sense it seems a strong argument. But, unfortunately, the 'economic necessity' failed to include the wider social costs and social benefits (such as lower congestion, pollution, and lower rate of fatal accidents). Also it failed to see the rapid growth of train use in the 1980s and 1990s. Fed up with gridlock on the roads, many people have wanted to start using trains again, alas many good lines are now forever lost, usually with new roads built over old tracks. It was a short sighted move which destroyed much of the UK's vital infrastructure. I have to admit, it's not just economics, as trains have an emotive appeal. A great viaduct is such a beautiful sight. By comparison a dual carriageway feels so soulless. Economics and utility.

Ugly Architecture.

For some reason, the 1960s was an era of utilitarian planning, the cheap, efficient and hideously ugly concrete block found itself plonked into the most beautiful surroundings. A city such as Oxford, with perhaps the most delightful architecture in the world, found the most ugly buildings springing up on the back of cheap and cheerful town Plannings. (See: Ugly and beautiful of Oxford)

The Tower Blocks

Another 1960s utilitarian dream - cheap and affordable housing in the centre of towns. They might have been cheap, but, they weren't cheerful. Becoming magnets for crime and vandalism. They have been gradually been pulled down after only a few decades, as we realise the mistakes we made.


There was a complacency in the British economy. Unions and employers made little effort at mutual co-operation and we fell behind continental and Asian rivals. Unions became very powerful and demanding, but, this led to greater confrontation and led to a prime Minister determined to bring them down, which she did.

Planning Failures
Perma Link | By: T Pettinger |


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