Four-minute mile falls

May 6. Roger Bannister, a 25-year-old medical student, became the first man in the world to run a mile in less than four minutes. The British success was achieved at the Oxford University track. Racing over this distance in under four minutes had been the aim of generations of runners. Roger BannisterSince 1931 athletes had been steadily chipping away at the last 10 seconds above the four-minute target. Nine years earlier the Swede, Gunder Hagg, got it down to a tantalising 4:01.3 minutes. Bannister ran with pacemakers Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher and covered the final lap in just 59 seconds to break the four-minute barrier by a shade over half-a-second.

November 29. People living in the village of Markyate, Hertfordshire, were victims of the post-war traffic boom. The main A5 trunk road thundered through their village but was barely 17 feet wide. The solution, the only 15mph speed limit in England, was hardly a long-term answer.

May 6. The Home Secretary told the Commons that the problem of "Edwardians" (teddy boys) was not widespread. It is thought to have been the first mention in official circles of this peculiarly 1950s phenomenon which caused dread among members of the older generation. The teddy boys were mild stuff indeed compared with some of the teenage fashions to come, such as mods and rockers and skinheads.

July 19: Elvis Presley (above) recorded his first single, "That's All Right, Mama". The Mississippi-born singer was just 19 and the recording, made under the watchful eye of his Svengali-like manager Colonel Tom Parker, sparked little immediate interest either over here or in the USA. Original copies of the disc on the defunct Sun record label are now worth a fortune.

May 1. West Bromwich Albion beat Preston 3-2 to win the FA Cup and complete a magnificent and unique double for Black Country football.

Baggies victoriousThe Baggies had very nearly won the league as well but were beaten by their deadliest rivals Wolves who took the title for the first time. They had run neck and neck all season until Wolves, managed by Stan Cullis and captained by the legendary Billy Wright, pulled away towards the end. The Albion's consolation came a few days later at Wembley when a late goal from Frank Griffin secured a dramatic win after they had been behind.

Later that year Wolves went on to pioneer floodlit football against continental opponents with some epic encounters against their Hungarian and Russian counterparts.


In brief

January 9. Amblecote Darby and Joan Club decided to move house following a ban on gambling at the town's Methodist Hall which had been its headquarters for years.

February 12. Link between smoking and lung cancer first established.

March 1. The US exploded its second hydrogen bomb at Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific.

  June 4. Much Wenlock Cricket Club in Shropshire banned Sunday matches on its ground. The club's board also decided it would be never on a Sunday for tennis matches.

August 4. Britain's first supersonic fighter the P-1 Lightning made its maiden flight.

  September 2. A massive slum clearance programme spearheaded by Minister of Housing Harold Macmillan started across the region. Hundreds of unfit homes started to come down throughout the Black Country, Staffordshire and parts of Shropshire.

  October 2. Teddesley Hall in Staffordshire, ancestral home of the Littleton family, was demolished. Guests during the stately home's heyday had included the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel but it had to come down when the then Lord Hatherton became the victim of heavy death duties.

November 17. Wolves thrashed Spartak Moscow 4-0 - a result only reported in the Soviet Union in a children's comic.

December 9. Roger Bannister retired from athletics to devote himself to his medical practice.