1970 – The Year We Were Born

The Coventry Society was formed as the Coventry Civic Amenity Society fifty years ago this year. We were wondering what else happened during that year.

In transport news, a Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet landed at Heathrow Airport for the first time and Concorde made its first supersonic flight. In the years that followed only 14 Concordes went into service and they were de-commissioned in 2003. In total 1554 Jumbos were produced and the plane only went out of service this year.

Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet

In the UK the last narrowboats to carry long-distance freight commercially on the canals arrived with their last load, coal from Atherstone for a West London jam factory. Thames sailing barge Cambria, the last vessel trading under sail in British waters, loaded her last freight at Tilbury. The last issue of grog was distributed in the Royal Navy.

British Leyland announced that the Morris Minor, its longest-running model which had been in production since 1948, would be discontinued. The same year the company launched the Range Rover. Chrysler UK launched its new Hillman Avenger small family car, which would be built at the Ryton plant.

An early Range Rover

In equalities news the year included the first National Women’s Liberation Conference held, at Ruskin College, Oxford and the Methodist Church allowed women to become full ministers for the first time. By contrast in November the first Page Three girl appeared in The Sun. Also in November the Gay Liberation Front organised its first march in London. 1970 was the first year that 18 years olds were allowed to vote in the UK and the last year of forced child migration to Australia.

In popular culture Paul McCartney announced that he had left The Beatles and the first Glastonbury Festival was held, as the Worthy Farm Pop Festival – T-Rex was the headlined act and about 1500 people attended.  Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin both died during the year.

The big films released that year were ‘Love Story’, M*A*S*H, and a small British Film called ‘Kes’. The IMAX motion picture projection system premiered at the Fuji Pavilion, at Expo ’70 in Japan.

1970 was the last full year of pre-decimal pounds, shillings and pence but the half-crown coin and the ten shilling note both ceased to be legal tender during that year.

The country still had the last remains of an empire, but In March Ian Smith declared Rhodesia a republic, breaking all ties with the British Crown. The UK Government refused to recognise the new state as long as the Rhodesian Government opposed majority rule.  In June Tonga became independent from the UK.

In environmental news the Liberian registered tanker Pacific Glory spilled 100,000 gallons of crude oil into the English Channel creating a huge oil slick and an environmental disaster and South Australia suffered its worst number of fires killing at least 75 people and had injuring another 800. A cyclone killed 500,000 people in the Ganges Delta and the first Earth Day, founded by Gaylord Nelson, was celebrated in April.

In Coventry news, the Queen visited the city in June. She visited The Precinct, the Cathedral, Lanchester Polytechnic and carried out the formal opening of Walsgrave Hospital.

It was in 1970 that Coventry College of Art amalgamated with Lanchester College of Technology and Rugby College of Engineering Technology. The resulting institution was called Lanchester Polytechnic: ‘Lanchester’ after the Midlands automotive industry pioneer, Dr Frederick Lanchester, and ‘Polytechnic’ meaning ‘skilled in many sciences and arts’. It later became Coventry Polytechnic and then Coventry University.

During the year Edwin Land patented the Polaroid camera and George Gray invented the LCD  – Liquid Crystal Display. British Petroleum discovered a large oil field in the North Sea and Richard Branson started the Virgin Group with discounted mail-order sales of popular records.

In international news the Aswan High Dam in Egypt was completed, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty went into effect after ratification by 43 nations, the Nigerian civil war ended and Colonel Gaddafi became president of Libya.

1970 was the birth year of a number of celebrities including, Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester and Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London. Also Mitch Benn, Minnie Driver, Louis Theroux, Naomi Campbell, Andi Peters, Alan Shearer, Darren Gough and Zoe Ball.

In that year E. M. Forster died in Coventry, at the home of his friends Robert and May Buckingham. There is a plaque under the bedroom window he was in and his ashes were scattered in Canley Cemetery.

E M Forster died in Coventry in 1970

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