That’ll be the Day: a post-war boyhood
A legacy project to create an exhibition based on boyhood memories of growing up in Hull in the 1950s and 1960s.
The experience of growing up in a provincial city after WW2 embodies many universals about ‘boyhood’ that were both peculiar to that time but also seen as transformative for decades to come.
Wartime bombing ravaged the city but the late 40s and early 50s saw the emergence of the ‘baby boomers’, a new generation with idealism and hopes for a better future. Initially it was a period of rickets, whooping cough, diphtheria and polio; of ration books, make ‘n’ mend and slow bombsite clearances for the city’s regeneration. But boom time was emerging. The city’s port and fishing industries were thriving. Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s famous declaration that “most of our people have never had it so good” came in July 1957 at a time when the country was riding high on the post-war economic boom.
But beyond the city the international stage heralded increasing global tensions after the atomic-Bomb, the hydrogen-Bomb, ballistic missiles, the Iron Curtain and the Cold War, Korea, the Cuban missile crisis.
Looking back to the early 1950s it’s hard to imagine that ‘teenagers’ hadn’t yet been invented. But something rebellious and counter-cultural was working its magic in the USA, and that something was to have a transformative effect on the attitudes and spirit of young people right across the UK. Let the music play…
The exhibition will be located in a specific place and time – Hull in the 1950s and 60s. It is part memoire and but also a more encompassing image of boyhood. As it portrays a baby boomer’s worldview onto his boyhood through family, friends, schooling and, importantly, his leisure pursuits (!), it presents a universal view about what it was like for a boy growing up in post war Britain.
This project is work-in-progress, culminating in an exhibition in 2018.