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50p at 50: how Britons’ living costs have changed since 1969

The front page of the Guardian carried stories on the two burning issues of the sidereal day : the eruption of violence in Northern Ireland, and the dateless negotiations over the UK joining the EEC. The chief comment man was speculation about a approaching general election, with Labour behind in the polls. And a large attend from the Decimal Currency Board proclaimed the arrival that day of the “ 50 new penny patch ”. The 50p coin entered circulation on 14 October 1969, in the runup to D-Day on 15 February 1971, when the UK last abandoned shillings and penny and moved to a decimal fraction currentness .An advert for the new 50p in the Guardian, 14 October 1969

An attend for the new 50p in the Guardian, 14 October 1969. Photograph: The Guardian The 50p coin was worth a bunch then – indeed, more than any coin in circulation now. In real terms it was worth the equivalent of merely over £8. Fifty years on, specially after rampaging inflation in the 1970s, the 50p is a shadow of its former self – it has shrunk in size and weight unit, but above all in value. Today ’ s 50p now only has the buying power of the old “ sixpence ” – the small 6d piece. back then, when drink was relatively bum, it very was potential to go for a night out and hush have change from 50p. A 50p man in 1969 could buy you three pints of balmy or biting ( priced about two shillings, equal to 10p ) while a tube fare on the newly opened Victoria line in London cost just 5d ( 2.2p ). You ’ d inactive have adequate bequeath to buy a part of chips and a copy of the Guardian, then priced at 6d ( 2.5p ). But what do these figures mean in substantial terms ? inflation since 1969 has been an astonishing 1,554 %, with the fast-rising “ cost of living ” already a major concern for the politics at the goal of the 1960s. But incomes have besides kept pace, rising moderately for men since then, but spectacularly for women. Are we much better off than 50 years ago ? defender Money searched prices of goods in 1969 and compared them with today. This shows that in real terms, food, clothes, electrical goods and holidays have collapsed in price and we can afford much more. But there has been a huge relative increase in the price of house .Queen Elizabeth II travels on a tube train after the official opening of the Victoria line in March 1969 Queen Elizabeth II travels on a tube train after the official opening of the Victoria line in March 1969. Photograph: Fox Photos/Getty Images


What is extraordinary about the wages data from the late 1960s is the huge gap between men and women. The ONS New Earnings Survey unfortunately gives no figures for 1969, but for 1970 it shows that the average full-time male worker was paid £30 a week, while a female full-time proletarian earned just £16.30. annually, that worked out at £1,560 for men, which is equal to £24,050 nowadays, but only £847.60 for women, peer to £13,068 today. The figures suggest that substantial yield for the average male has risen by about a third base over the last 50 years, but for women it has doubled. These figures, though, need to be taken with a large pinch of salt : they are averages, not the median trope, and reflect megascopic earnings quite than take-home give after tax. A search through the Guardian ’ s classify job adverts on the day the 50p was launched gives a snapshot of what very jobs paid. The Open University, which had equitable been established, was hiring professors at £3,780 a year ( adequate to £62,532 nowadays ), lecturers on a range of £1,240 to £2,850 ( £20,153-£47,147 ), and secretaries on £756-£1,068 ( £12,506-£17,668 ). The Open University is calm hiring – and its adverts suggest that very wage for academics has barely edged ahead in 50 years. It presently has an ad for a professor of economics on a range of £67,700-£75,800, while it pays lecturers £33,000 to £49,000. But the secretary job pays set more in today ’ south money, with the OU advertising a character at £23,000 to £26,000. rampant sexism was a staple for job adverts in 1969, even in the Guardian. On that day, we carried an attend for a personnel department officer at a new Courtaulds textile factory in Skelmersdale. The ad specified it had to be a man because Courtaulds was expanding its all-male labor coerce from 400 men to 1,200 men .Ford Capri A Ford Capri cost £890 in 1969 – the equivalent of £14,723 nowadays adjusted for inflation. Photograph: Alamy

House prices

In very terms, house prices in 1969 were just a third base of their grade nowadays. The average house sold for £4,312 – equal to £71,333 in today ’ randomness money, which would not even buy you a garage in northwest London. however, if you look at the monthly monetary value of buying a home quite than the purchase price, the deviation is not so large. In October 1969 the Building Societies Association recommended mortgage interest rate was 8.5 %, while today loans can be found for below 2 %. Women in 1969 were besides treated as second-class borrowers, with the widespread belief that a male signee ( conserve or beget ) was required as a guarantor .

Food and clothes

One cause house prices were lower was that we all had less rid money to spend after buying food. Chicken was about three times the price we pay today, while boodle, eggs, coffee and carbohydrate were about double the prices in supermarkets nowadays. But comparing like with like is made baffling by the change in weights and measures since 1969, as Britain went metric in the 1970s. What we are eating has besides changed. While gripe brisket, lunch meat, dried prunes and corned gripe appear in the ONS data for 1969, it ’ s not until 1996 that prices of avocado and grapes were collected. And instant coffee bean appears to have been a thoroughly modern fresh thing in 1969, having appeared in the ONS datum for the inaugural fourth dimension a year earlier. Clothes have besides dramatically fallen in monetary value in real terms since 1969. We were unable to obtain like-for-like prices of goods from then, but the manner page of the defender that day gives an indication. We featured a black-and-white wool coat at £34 in Debenhams – equal to £562 nowadays – and a men ’ s sheepskin coat at 38 guineas, peer to £662 today. Of the 670 coats in Debenhams ’ on-line store today, the most expensive is £349 .Des O’Connor

Des O ’ Connor was one of the stars that viewers in 1969 could watch on their newly color television receiver. Photograph: David Farrell/Redferns

Electrical and household goods

The Guardian of 14 October 1969 carried a history in the business pages on a major discovery for Granada Rentals – it would offer a color television for a rip of just £1 a week. That ’ sulfur equal to £865 a year in nowadays ’ south money, but all you got was one impart in coloring material ( BBC2 ) while the early two channels, BBC1 and ITV, even broadcast in total darkness and white. Renting, even at those prices, was the merely choice for most people because color television receiver sets cost astronomic prices. Our story said that a 19-inch dress cost 199 guineas – about £4,000 in today ’ s money – at Currys, and Dennis Curry was reporting that sales had been “ quite restrained ”. The Granada Rentals deal was for an 11-inch television set. not that there was a draw to watch in color. Broadcasting on BBC2 began at 7pm that even, with rugby league coverage of Hull vanadium Wigan the primetime offer. only half of Britain ’ s homes owned a refrigerator in 1969, dishwashers were about unheard of, and microwaves were in only a bantam number of homes. And without the likes of Ikea, home furnishings cost far more in real terms then than they do today .

Culture and going out

If you fancy going to see Fiddler on the Roof, now on at London ’ second Playhouse dramaturgy, seat prices for a typical October matinee range from £20 to £145. Back in 1969, an mention in the Guardian showed that Fiddler on the Roof was besides playing, but at Her Majesty ’ s dramaturgy. And the prices ? There was a special offer of Wednesday matinees at 5s to 25s – or 25p to £1.25. Adjusting for ostentation, that means seats were going for just £4 to a exceed price of £20. West End field appears to have quadrupled in price in real terms since the 1960s .A pint of Guinness A pint of Guinness price just 9p in 1969. Photograph: Paul Mcerlane/Reuters In Oxford, the Sadler ’ south Wells opera was on enlistment, charging from 6/ to 22/6 ( 30p to £1.12 ) to see Madam Butterfly at the Playhouse. That ’ mho equal to £4.80 to £18.50 today. Currently Macbeth is booking at the Playhouse, priced at £10 to £30, so real prices appear to have doubled. In the public house, we found Guinness at 1/9d ( 9p ), and mild and bitter at 10p. Adjusted for today, beer prices have doubled in real terms. Mateus Rosé was the most popular wine in the world then : the Queen drink in it, and Jimi Hendrix was photographed swigging it out of the bottle. How multiplication transfer .

How prices have changed

Item Price in 1969 Price adjusted for inflation Actual price today
Average engage ( male, wide time ) £1,560 £24,050 £31,834
Average engage ( female, entire meter ) £847 £13,068 £26,103
Average house price £4,312 £71,333 £215,910
New car ( Mini Mk II ) £595.10s.0d £9,860 £16,195 ( Mini 3dr hatch )
New cable car ( Ford Capri ) £890 £14,723 £22,160 ( Ford Fiesta ST )
Petrol ( liter ) 7.3p 120p 128p
Fresh whole chicken 41p £6.80 £2.80
Loaf of white bread 8p £1.32 59p
Bag of sugar 8p £1.32 69p
Milk ( one pint ) 4.4p 73p 50p
Eggs ( twelve, large ) 20.2p £3.34 £1.89
Instant coffee 21.8p £3.60 £1.89
Pint of acerb 10p £1.65 £3.70
Colour television ( 19 inch ) £240 £3,970 £99
Package vacation ( two weeks Benidorm, August, pp ) £78 £1,290 £950
Flight ( London to Tokyo, economy ) £325 £5,376 £900
First-class stamp 2.2p 36.5p 70p
Tube fare ( one mile ) 2.2p 36.5p £2.40
Electricity ( per kwh ) 0.78p 12.9p 14.4p Notes : House price data from Nationwide build company. Wage data from ONS New Earnings Survey ( 1970 – figures for 1969 unavailable ) and Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings ( ASHE ) ( 2019 ). food prices from ONS 1914-2004 series, prices today taken from stream Tesco web site .

Is your 50p worth a mint?

There is one 50p coin possibly jangling in your pocket nowadays that is worth a lot more than its boldness value. But it ’ s not the foremost adaptation of the coin minted in 1969 .2009 Kew Gardens 50p The 2009 Kew Gardens 50p is a collector ’ mho item due to its low mintage of 210,000. Photograph: Royal Mint/PA The Royal Mint puts 120m newly 50p coins into circulation on 14 October 1969, which at the time was the biggest ever publish of a new coin – giving it about zero curio value. On eBay, 1969 50p coins can be bought for equally little as 75p. Given that 50 years ago the 50p coin had the buying ability of £8 nowadays, it has been a pretty poor investment. The 50p mint to watch out for is the more holocene 2009 issue that carries a movie of Kew Gardens on the overrule. fair 210,000 of the coins were minted to mark the 250th anniversary of the Royal Botanic Gardens, compared with 19.9m Peter Rabbit 50p coins stopping point year. According to mint dealers, the Kew Gardens 50p coins can fetch £70-£80. But, beware, there are two types – the “ circulated ” one is much rarer than the shinier “ uncirculated ” coins, which lone pick up about £10-£20 on eBay. Keep an center out for the 50p coins issued to celebrate the London Olympics in 2012. Dominic Chorney at mint dealers Baldwin ’ mho says some are worth £3-£4, depending on the sport featured .A 50p coin showing Olympic discipline basketball produced by the Royal Mint in 2012

A 50p coin showing Olympic discipline basketball produced by the Royal Mint in 2012. Photograph: Royal Mint/EPA Chorney adds that despite the affect towards a cashless company – the Royal Mint did not produce any 1p or 2p coins last class, neither did it make any new £2 coins – coin collect remains popular, with criminal record prices at auction for the rarest items. In January this year, a five guinea “ Vigo ” ’ mint minted in 1703 fetched the highest price always paid for a british mint. It sold at Baldwin ’ south auction in New York for $ 1.08m ( £876,000 ) .

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