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