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‘The 1950s: You’ve Never Had It So Good?’ Exhibition

This colourful exhibition gave a taste of life in 1950s Britain and locally in Rutland – from the Festival of Britain and design in the home to television, music and lots more. It featured artefacts and archives from the museum collection and items on loan from local people.

1950s: At the Movies

Copyright: Rutland County Council

The increasing popularity of television during the 1950s and the comfort of home entertainment posed a challenge to cinema. In 1951, cinema admissions stood at 1,365 million in Britain; by 1960, the figure had fallen to 500 million.
Cinema responded with the introduction of the wide-screen process known as CinemaScope (in 1953) which television couldn’t compete with. It dramatically changed the cinema-going experience as it was twice as wide as a conventional screen.
By the 1950s, the County Cinema (originally called the Regent Cinema) was the only cinema remaining in Oakham. CinemaScope was installed here in 1955 and the first film shown under this system was ‘The Student Prince’.

1955: New Hospital Maternity Wing

Copyright: Rutland County Council

In 1955 a new maternity wing at the Rutland Memorial Hospital, which cost around £40,000, was opened by HRH the Duchess of Gloucester. This photograph shows the Matron, Miss C. Power, alongside the Duchess.
The extension contained two single and two double wards and one four-bedded ward as well as an ante-natal clinic, fathers’ waiting room, nursery and doctors’ consulting room. It was described as a ‘maternity matron’s Utopia and a young mother’s dream’ with ‘… a soft pastel shade colour scheme, a lack of drab uniformity and excellent curtaining and furnishings.’ The first baby to be born in the new wing was Nicholas Perryman.

1950s: Oakham Grows

Oakham, 1950

A pair of maps of Oakham from the 1950s showing what a small town it was – when compared to today. However, by the 1956 map there was evidence of new developments. There was the new primary school on Burley Road and new housing along Ashwell and Burley Roads and on the new roads of Queen’s Road, Chestnut Road and Beech Road. You can also see how the hospital had been extended with the new maternity wing.

Oakham, 1956