London in the 1960s

The 1960s is one of the many themes that we can use for our Treasure Hunts. Any era can be visited, but the colourful sixties lend themselves to dressing up for a fun event.

The 1960s were a period of cultural change across the world, not least in London. For a time, during this swinging decade, London was not only the capital of the UK, it was the capital of cool. Everything that was hip and happening, was happening in London. The city was also growing physically. Due to governmental reorganisation, ‘Greater’ London was born and had spread further from its core than ever before. However, after suffering the scars of two World Wars, the doom and gloom had settled over the city for many years. This pessimism had enveloped everyone who lived there; then the 60s arrived!

Two factors played their part in revitalising the city; young people and money. The baby boom that had started after the war and continued into the 1950s was finally coming of age. The urban population was now younger than it had been since Roman times, with 40% of Londoners aged 25 or under. National Service had been abolished at the turn of the decade meaning that young men had more time, but less responsibilities, on their hands. People found themselves with more disposable income and were looking for a way to spend it. All these factors together proved to be a heady mix for London’s youth, as they began to rebel against their post-War society.

With more money in the pocket young people needed something to spend it on. They found an outlet in fashion, design and music, in fact anything to banish the melancholia that had covered the city since the 1930s. Fashion boutiques quickly opened up to cater for these new found passions. Young men tended to shop in areas around Carnaby Street, looking for the latest ‘Mod’ern fashions. The young women focussed their attentions on Mary Quant’s new ‘mini’ skirt and filled the King’s Road shops to get their hands, and legs, on one. Mary Quant wasn’t the only fashion icon of the time. Model’s Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton had become cultural symbols of London’s new passion for fashion.

Including music in your Treasure Hunt

The other driving force of London in the 60s was music. The Beatles were taking over Liverpool and the north of the country, but London was developing a scene all of its own. Bands like The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Small Faces and The Who were feeling the benefit of airplay via new pirate radio stations. Young people were moving away from the traditional mainstream radio programming favoured by the parents. BBC Radio 1 didn’t start until 1967, so young people were choosing the likes of Radio Caroline and Radio Swinging England for their musical diet.

Of course it wasn’t all fashion and music. 1960’s London had its fair share of problems too. Immigration was becoming an increasing problem with the influx of people from around the world converging on London in their droves. As more people arrived, suitable housing became harder to find. In the 15-20 years since the end of World War II, not all buildings had been rebuilt to cope with new residents. In an effort to resolve the problem quickly, a huge number of high-rise tower blocks were built to cope with demand. They changed the feel, and skyline, of London ever since.

Having a 1960s theme is one way of making a London Treasure Hunt more interesting.


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