Price changes and other economic landmarks
See also Historical Currency Exchange Rates
Agricultural employment 1960 & 2005, % employed in sector.
“The Budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be filled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest we become bankrupt. People must again learn to work instead of living on public assistance”. Not a quote from a Conservative Chancellor’s Budget speech in the 21st century, but was written by Cicero, Roman Emperor, 55 BCE.
Meanwhile, for aspiring 21st century Chancellors, of any Party, facing rising inequality, the words of Tsar Alexander II (1855-81) may also be relevant,
“It is better to abolish serfdom from above than to await the day when it will begin to abolish itself from below”
UK Prices in any one year
Real prices in any one year, in 2000 terms.
Inflation and pay claims UK 1962-77
Abandonment of Gold Standard, 1930s
Global stock market crash 1929
State Pensions, start of
Trade Unions and Chartists
US economic data
See Appendix One below for companies, credit ratings, banks and bailouts
The Credit Crunch and EU Bailout
Major job losses
For UK legislation on maximum working hours for women and children, 19th and early 20th century, see Morals & Punishment
Real Prices. Prices change each year, usually upwards. However different goods rise at different rates per year; wages (used to) rise faster than prices, on average. That in turn meant house prices would rise faster than inflation, as buyers bid on houses based on what mortgage they can afford out of their salary.
Measuring relative changes in real prices. This page gives selected prices for a range of goods, also salaries and house prices, in different years. These prices have also been calculated as to what they would have been has that particular good or salary risen in line with the average change in prices / salaries, using the year 2000 as a baseline. (inflation data has been taken from http://www.measuringworth.com/) . For property prices, also for wages, the index used from http://www.measuringworth.com/ is not consumer prices but wage inflation.
For the UK Basic State Pension, the value is also shown as it would have been relative to prices (as well as % of average gross weekly earnings).
Using the year 2000 as a baseline avoids the need for recalculation every year as prices and wages continue to change.
Data from www.measuringworth.com
After each mid-year date (1/7/XXXX) the nominal amount is given that would purchase the same goods, or be equivalent to the same earnings, as £100 retail prices / £100 earnings in the year 2000.
EXAMPLE#1, 1/7/2009, £125.50, £138.90. This means that £100 in 2000 had the same purchasing power as £125.50 in 2009, and that £100 earned in 2000 was equivalent to £138.90 earned in 2009.
EXAMPLE#1, 1/7/1990, £76.21, £64.07. This means that £100 in 2000 had the same purchasing power as £76.21 in 1990, and that £100 earned in 2000 was equivalent to £64.07 earned in 1990.
Interpreting differences between nominal prices and real prices rebased to 2000 prices.
EXAMPLE#1. Cigarettes. Cigarettes have risen in price much faster than inflation. In 2000 they cost £3.88 for 20. In 2013, had their risen with overall inflation, they would have cost £5.60 for 20. In fact they cost £7.98, a price rise of over 40% above inflation between 2000 and 2013..
In 1983 cigarettes cost £1.05; however their 2000 price adjusted to 1983 price levels would have been £1.94 in 1983. Therefore cigarettes in 1983 were just 54% (1.05 / 1.94) of their 2000 price, allowing for general inflation between 1983 and 2000.
EXAMPLE#2. Milk. Milk has risen in price slower than general inflation. In 2000 a pint of milk cost 34p. In 2013, had the price of ,milk risen in line with overall inflation, a pint of milk would have cost 48p; in fact it was 46p, a price fall in real terms of 4%.
In 1983 a pint of milk cost 21p a pint. However the price of a pint in 2000, adjusted to 1983 price levels, would have been 16p. Therefore the price of milk in 1983 was 31% higher (21 / 16) in real, inflation-adjusted terms, than it was in 2000.
EXAMPLE#2. The UK Basic State Pension has, here, been indexed to prices not wages, as a measure of its changing purchasing power. In 2000 this Pension stood at £67.50. In 1950 this Pension was £1.30; the purchasing power of £67.50 in 1950 was £3.31. Therefore between 1950 and 2000 the real purchasing power of the UK Basic State pension improved by a factor of 3.31 / 1.30, a rise of almost 155%. In 2007 the UK Basic State Pension was £87.30; however the purchasing power of £67.50 in 2000 was represented by £81.88. Therefore the purchasing power of this Pension rose by 87.30 / 81.88 over the 7 years from 2000, or 6.6%. Note, though, that the UK Basic State Pension as a fraction of gross weekly earnings is slightly lower in 2007 than it was in 1950 (and considerably lower than it was in 1975)
1/7/2017, A 1st class stamp cost 65p, and a second class stamp cost 56p.
1/4/2016, The National Living Wage (Minimum Wage) in the UK was set at £7.20 an hour for workers aged 25 or more. The previous Minimum Wage was £6.70 per hour.
16/12/2015, The UK’s last deep coal mine, Kellingley Colliery, near Wakefield, Yorkshire, closed. It once employed 3,000 workers.
1/10/2015, The UK adult Minimum Wage was raised to £6.70/hour (£5.73)
1/7/2015, £151.80, £154.80
BEER – a pint of beer cost £3.15
A first class postage stamp cost 63p; a second class stamp was 54p.
The average cost of entry to a UK theme park stood at £55, up 80% on ten years earlier; retail prices had risen by 29% over ten years..
4/10/2014, 1 kg carrots cost 70p. 2 pints of milk cost 89p.
1/10/2014, The UK adult Minimum Wage was raised to £6.50/hour (£5.59)
NHS prescription charges were £8.25 (£)
1/7/2014, £150.30, £151.10
CHEESE - 250g mature cheddar cheese cost £2.00.
CIGARETTES - A pack of 20 cigarettes cost £8.47.
EGGS - Six medium size free range eggs cost £1.25.
HOUSING - The average UK house price was £182,334.
750g smoked gammon joint cost £4.00. 1kg garden peas cost £1.60. 1kg red seedless grapes cost £4.00. 4 pints semi-skimmed milk cost £1.00. 160 PG Tips 500g cost £4.00. A 400g quiche Lorraine cost £2.30. 150g peppered salami cost £1.70. A 4-pack toilet rolls aloe vera cost £2.00. A litre of petrol cost £1.30. The average cost of a UK funeral was £3,609, up 88% from £1,920 in 2004 (UK inflation over this period was 36%, and UK wages rose by around 30% over this period. Better die now whilst you can still afford to).
NHS prescription charges were £8.05 (£9.02)
31/3/2014, The price of postage stamps in the UK rose from 60p to 62p first class and from 50p to 53p second class.
1/10/2013, The UK adult Minimum Wage was raised to £6.31/hour (£5.59)
2/9/2013, Ronald Coase, the economist who developed the theory of the firm, died aged 102. He was born in Willesden, north London, in 1910.
1/7/2013, £146.90, £149.50
BEER - A pint of beer was £3.18 (£2.61).
BREAD - A 800g loaf of bread cost £1.27 (75.4p).
BIG MAC – A McDonalds BigMac cost £2.59
BUTTER - 250g butter cost £1.42 (£1.22).
CIGARETTES - A pack of 20 cigarettes cost £7.98 (£5.60).
EGGS - 6 medium sized eggs cost £1.40 (£1.20).
HOUSING -The average UK house price was £168,928 (£119,907). The average price for a detached house was £305,391. The average price for a new house was £247,000.
LAGER - A pint of lager cost £2.87 (£2.93).
MILK - A pint of milk cost 46p (48p).
PENSION – UK weekly pension was £110.50
PETROL – A litre of unleaded petrol cost £1.34p A litre of diesel cost £1.41.
SUGAR - A kilogram of sugar cost 95p (82p).
WAGES - Average annual wage was £26,000
100g instant coffee cost £2.67. 1.5 kg self-raising flour cost £1.19. 2.5 kg of chicken cost £6.00. 1kg pork sausages cost £4.84. 1kg carrots cost 91p, 1kg of dessert apples cost £2.02. The latest model of the Ford Focus car cost £13,995.
UK consumer debt stood at £1,426 billion.
1/10/2012, The UK adult Minimum Wage was raised to £6.19/hour (£5.47)
1/7/2012, £142.50, £147.80
BEER - A pint of beer cost £2.79 (£2.54).
BREAD - A 800g loaf of white bread cost £1.20 (74.1p)
BUTTER - 250g of butter cost £1.59 (£1.18).
CIGARETTES - 20 king-size cigarettes cost £7.09 (£5.53).
HOUSING - The average UK house price was £163,628 (£119,540).
MILK - A pint of milk cost 46p (48.5p).
PETROL - A litre of unleaded petrol cost £1.35p
POSTAGE – A 1ST class stamp cost 60p (38.5p)
POTATOES - A kg of potatoes cost £1.50 (72.7p) .
TEA - 125g loose tea cost £2.18 (£1.12)
A lb of back bacon cost £4.04. A lb of oranges cost £1.24. A sack of house coal cost £16.89..
2/5/2012, In New York, a pastel version of Edward Munch’s ‘The Scream’ sold for US$ 120 million at auction, a record sum for a work of art.
1/10/2011, The UK adult Minimum Wage was raised to £6.08/hour (£5.39)
1/7/2011, £138.10, £145.60
BREAD - The price of a 800g loaf of white bread was £1.19 (71.8p).
BUTTER - 250g of butter cost £1.60 (£1.15).
HOUSING - The average UK house price was £165,131 (£117,019).
1.5 kg of self raising flour cost £1.29, +40% on 2010. 1 kg back bacon cost £9.05, +9.2% on 2010. 1kg topside beef cost £9.52, +4.96% on 2010. 100g instant coffee cost £2.66, +18.2% on 2010. One Iceberg lettuce cost 89p, +9.9% on 2010. One litre of vodka cost £18.45, +11.7% on 2010. A litre of petrol cost £1.35.
In 2011 Britain had 527,579 nurses (1939 = 223,120). In 2011 Britain had 124,177 farmers (1939 = 668,554). In 2011 Britain had 3,483,528 teachers (1939 = 205,932). In 2011 Britain had 457,700 hairdressers and barbers (1939 = 104,512). In 2011 Britain had 176,402 bar staff (1939 = 42,636). In 2011 Britain had 14,627 tailors (1939 = 165,473).
BREAD - The price of a 800g loaf of white bread was £1.20 (68.2p).
1/10/2010, The UK adult Minimum Wage was raised to £5.93/hour (£5.26)
1/7/2010, £131.30, £142.10
BUTTER - 250g of butter cost £1.42 (£1.09).
HOUSING - The average UK house price was £165,483 (£113,972).
1.5 kg of self raising flour cost £0.92. 1 kg back bacon cost £8.29. 1kg topside beef cost £9.07. 100g instant coffee cost £2.25. One Iceberg lettuce cost 81p. One litre of vodka cost £16.52.
UK National Minimum Wage was £5.93 (£5.26).
1/10/2009, The UK adult Minimum Wage was raised to £5.80/hour (£5.14)
1/7/2009, £125.50, £138.90
APPLES – 1 kilogramme of apples cost £1.51
BREAD - The price of a 800g loaf of white bread was £1.21 (65.2p).
BUTTER - 250g of butter cost £1.15 (£).
CIGARETTES - 20 king-size cigarettes cost £5.39
HOUSING - The average UK house price was £156,513 (£111,410).
MILK - A pint of milk cost 45p
PETROL - A litre of unleaded petrol cost 86p
POTATOES - A kg of potatoes cost 69p
SUGAR - A kilogram of sugar cost 88p
TEA - 125g loose tea cost 90p
A portion of fish and chips cost £4.50p
BREAD - The price of a 800g loaf of white bread was £1.26 (67.8p).
1/10/2008, The UK adult Minimum Wage was raised to £5.73/hour (£5.15)
BEER - A pint of beer cost £2.82 (£2.24).
BIG MAC – A McDonalds BigMac cost £2.09
BREAD - A 800g loaf of bread cost £1.22 (65.6p).
MILK - A pint of milk cost 40p (44p).
PETROL – A litre of unleaded petrol cost £1.12p
TV LICENCE - A year’s TV licence cost £139.50 (£131.15).
The NHS prescription charge was £7.10. A first class stamp cost 36p. A can of Heinz baked beans cost 52p. A couple’s pension was £145.05. Child Benefit was £18.10 a week.
1/7/2008, £126.10, £139.10
HOUSING - The average UK house price was £168,973 (£111,619).
2/1/2008, The price of crude oil passed US$ 100 a barrel for the first time ever.
2007, A report by the Department of Trade and Industry stated that approximately 165,000 UK households used illegal moneylenders over the past 12 months, borrowing a total of £40 million but repaying some three times that amount. These moneylenders charged interest rates of 25% a week, compound, which came to 11 million percent a year,
BREAD - The price of a 800g loaf of white bread was 91p (63.1p).
1/10/2007, The UK adult Minimum Wage was raised to £5.52/hour (£4.97)
1/7/2007, £121.30, £134.30
HOUSING - The average UK house price was £181,364 (£107,656).
UK Basic State Pension was £87.30 (£81.88), or 15.90% of average gross weekly full-time earnings, £549.80.
1/4/2007, In the UK, the TV licence fee rose from £131.50 to £135.50 (£137.79).
15/1/2007, The average UK house price was £186,954, up 605% on 1983.
BREAD - The price of a 800g loaf of white bread was 83p (60.5p).
1/10/2006, The UK adult Minimum Wage was raised to £5.35/hour (£4.73)
1/7/2006, £116.30, £127.90
HOUSING - The average UK house price was £166,470 (£102,632).
The average wage in the UK was £25,961. GPs got £70,100, or 270% of average. Teachers got £33,280, or 128% of average. Train drivers got £34,000, or 131% of average. Factory workers got £22,464, or 86% of average.
UK Basic State Pension was £84.25 (£78.50), or 15.80% of average gross weekly full-time earnings, £534.90.
BEER - a pint of beer cost £2.00 (£2.01).
EGGS - six eggs cost 85p (92.4p).
MILK - A pint of milk cost 35p (38.3p),
SUGAR - a kilo of sugar cost 74p (63.1p),
Average salary was £22,248 gross.
1/10/2005, The UK adult Minimum Wage was raised to £5.05/hour (£4.52)
1/7/2005, £112.70, £122.20
BEER – a pint of beer cost £2.34
BREAD - A 800g loaf of white bread cost 73p (59.6p).
HOUSING - The average UK house price was £156,325 (£99,966).
UK Basic State Pension was £82.05 (£76.07), or 15.90% of average gross weekly full-time earnings, £516.40.
TV LICENCE - A colour TV licence was £126.50 (£117.25).
Average council tax band D was £1,214. A litre of unleaded petrol was 89.4p. Average independent day school fee was £2,556, Average daily nanny salary was £22,971.
1 kg fresh chicken cost £2.00.
1kg beef sirloin steak cost £13.25
1 kg strawberries cost £5,00
1/10/2004, The UK adult Minimum Wage was raised to £4.85/hour (£4.32)
1/7/2004, £109.60, £116.80
APPLES - A kg of apples cost £1.25.
BEER - A pint of beer cost £2.02 (£1.95).
BREAD - A 800g loaf of white sliced bread cost 64p (57.0p).
EGGS - 6 large eggs cost 85p (89.9p).
HOUSING - The average UK house price was £148,658 (£93,707).
MILK - A pint of milk cost 35p (37.3p).
POTATOES - A kg of potatoes cost 60p (55.9p).
UK Basic State Pension was £79.60 (£73.98), or 16.00% of average gross weekly full-time earnings, £498.20.
A kg of minced beef cost £4.06. Average council tax band D was £1,167. A litre of unleaded petrol was 79.6p. Average independent day school fee was £2,414, Average daily nanny salary was £22,514.
1/10/2003, The UK adult Minimum Wage was raised to £4.50/hour (£4.14)
1/7/2003. £106.50, £112.00
BREAD - A 800g loaf of bread cost 63p (55.3p).
CIGARETTES - 20 cigarettes cost £4.55 (£4.13).
HOUSING - Average UK house cost £129,443 (£89,803).
LAGER - A pint of lager cost £2.25 (£2.05).
TV LICENCE - The TV licence cost £116 (£106.52).
Average weekly wage was £464.70. A gallon of four-star petrol cost £3.32. A family car cost £11,145.
UK Basic State Pension was £77.45 (£71.89), or 16.30% of average gross weekly full-time earnings, £475.78.
1/10/2002, The UK adult Minimum Wage was raised to £4.20/hour (£4.01)
10/7/2002. A Rubens painting sold at auction for £49.5 million, the highest sterling price ever paid for a painting.
1/7/2002, £103.50, £108.50
BEEF - 500g of beef cost £2.30.
BEER - A pint of beer cost £1.78 (£1.84).
BREAD - A 800g loaf of white bread cost 57p (53.8p).
MILK - A pint of milk cost 36p. 250g of butter cost 85p (85.6p).
HOUSING - The average UK house price was £106,407 (£86,786).
POTATOES - A kg of potatoes cost 93p (52.8p).
TEA - 125g loose tea cost 87p (81.8p).
500g of back bacon cost £3.60. A lb of oranges cost 75p. A sack of house coal cost £8.11.
UK National Minimum Wage was £4.10 (£4.02).
UK Basic State Pension was £75.50 (£69.86), or 16.20% of average gross weekly full-time earnings, £464.70.
500g pork loin cost £2.40.
Carrots, 1 kg cost 58p
Onions, 1kg cost 73p
Peas, 1kg cost 98p
28/2/2002, The former national currencies of all Euro members officially ceased to be legal tender.
1/10/2001, The UK adult Minimum Wage was raised to £4.10/hour (£3.89)
1/7/2001, £101.80, £105.20
HOUSING - The average UK house price was £88,799 (£84,370).
TV LICENCE - The TV licence cost £109 (£105.86).
CIGARETTES - A pack of 20 cigarettes cost £4.22 (£3.95).
UK Basic State Pension was £72.50 (£68.71), or 16.30% of average gross weekly full-time earnings, £444.20.
2000, US President Clinton signed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, halting government regulation of many derivatives by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
1/10/2000, The UK adult Minimum Wage was raised to £3.70/hour.
8/9/2000, Albania officially joined the WTO.
7/9/2000. Fuel shortages began after protestors at high diesel and petrol prices blockaded refineries. Petrol was over 80p a litre, partly because of high crude prices caused by instability in the Middle East but also due to higher fuel taxes. The ‘Dump the Pump’ protests continued until 14/9/2000.
1/7/2000 Base year prices. £100, £100
BACON - 500g of streaky bacon cost £2.20.
BEEF - 500g of beef cost £2.11.
BEER – A pint of beer cost £1.78.
BREAD - 800g sliced white bread cost 52p.
BUTTER - 250g of butter cost 83p.
CHEESE - 250g of cheddar cheese cost £1.18.
CIGARETTES – A pack of 20 cigarettes cost £3.88
EGGS - 6 eggs cost 82p.
HOUSING - The average UK house price was £80,366.
LAGER – A pint of lager cost £2.00.
MARGARINE - 500g of margarine cost 87p.
MILK - 1 pint of pasteurised milk cost 34p.
POSTAGE – A 1ST class stamp cost 27p, and a second class stamp cost 19p
POTATOES - 1 kg old potatoes cost 51p.
SUGAR - 1 kg granulated sugar cost 56p.
TEA - 125g of loose tea cost 79p.
TV LICENCE – The TV licence cost £104
NHS prescription charges were £6.00 (from 1/4/2000)
Annual fees at Eton public school were £16,500.
UK National Minimum Wage was £3.70.
UK Basic State Pension was £67.50 (£67.50), or 16.10% of average gross weekly full-time earnings, £419.70.
1/10/1999, The UK adult Minimum Wage was set at £3.60/hour (£3.54)
12/7/1999. The three richest men in the world, Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and Warren Buffett, were collectively richer than the world’s poorest 43 nations.
1/7/1999, £97.13, £95.65
BIG MAC – A McDonalds BigMac cost £1.90
BREAD - 800g sliced white bread cost 51p
CIGARETTES – A pack of 20 cigarettes cost £3.37
HOUSING - The average UK house price was £71,122 (£75,719). The average price for a new house was £93,000.
LAGER – A pint of lager cost £1.93
MILK - 1 pint of pasteurised milk cost 34p
PENSION – UK weekly pension was £66.75
PETROL - A litre of unleaded petrol cost 63.6p
SUGAR - 1 kg granulated sugar cost 61p
WAGES - Average annual wage was £18,400
UK Basic State Pension was £66.75 (£65.56), or 16.60% of average gross weekly full-time earnings, £401.50.
The latest model of the Ford Focus car cost £15,500. UK consumer debt stood at £565.4 billion.
6/4/1999, The UK Government scrapped PEPs (Personal Equity Plans) in favour of ISAs (Individual Savings Accounts).
1/4/1999, The UK introduced a National Minimum Wage, of £3.60 an hour, or £3,00 for those aged 18-21.
24/3/1999. Britain’s trade deficit was at an all-time high of £2.8 billion.
5/2/1999, The Russian economist Wassily Leontief, Nobel Prize winner, born 1906, died.
1/1/1999, The Euro currency was introduced. 11 countries said they would adopt it.
1/7/1998, £95.65, £91.25
BACON - 500g of streaky bacon cost £2.10 (£2,10)
BEEF - 500g of beef cost £1.99 (£2.02).
BREAD - 800g sliced white bread cost 52p (49.7p).
BUTTER - 250g of butter cost 85p (79.4p).
CHEESE - 250g of cheddar cheese cost £1.25 (£1.13).
EGGS - 6 eggs cost 76p (79.4p).
HOUSING - The average UK house price was £65,201 (£73,173).
POTATOES - 1 kg old potatoes cost 77p (49.8p).
SUGAR - 1 kg granulated sugar cost 67p (53.6p).
TEA - 125g of loose tea cost 76p (75.6p).
500g of margarine cost 83p.
UK Basic State Pension was £64.70 (£64.56), or 16.80% of average gross weekly full-time earnings, £385.80.
4/1998, The cost of a UK TV Licence rose from £91 to £97.
6/3/1998, The South Crofty tin mine closed, the last tin mine in Cornwall. The 800 metre deep mine had been operating since the 16th century and tin had been mined on Cornwall for 3,000 years. In 1983 the tin industry in Cornwall had employed 20,000, but the collapse in world tin prices had ruined the industry.
3/2/1998, The FTSE 100 closed at a record high of 5612.8; the companies on the index were valued at over UK£ 1,000 billion for the first time ever.
1/7/1997. £92.48, £86.84
BEER - A pint of beer cost £1.63 (£1.65).
BREAD – A large loaf of white sliced bread cost 52p (49.1p).
CIGARETTES - 20 cigarettes cost £2.94 (£3.59).
EGGS - 6 large eggs cost 80p (75.8p).
HOUSING - The average UK house price was £58,403 (£69,789).
MILK - A pint of milk cost 35p (31.4p).
A kg of minced beef cost £3.72. A kg of apples cost 51p. Road tax for a car cost £145.. A 6-bed house in Wimbledon cost £775,000 (13.27 x average). 2 weeks in Lucerne cost £815. A ,man’s watch cost £29.50. The Observer newspaper cost £1.00.
UK Basic State Pension was £62.45 (£62.42), or 17.00% of average gross weekly full-time earnings, £367.60.
6/5/1997. Labour Chancellor Gordon Brown granted the Bank of England independence in setting interest rates.
1/7/1996, £89.67, £83.27
UK Basic State Pension was £61.15 (£60.52), or 17.50% of average gross weekly full-time earnings, £351.60.
The average wage in the UK was £18,307 per year. GPs got £44,304, 242% of average. Teachers got £23,088, 126% of average. Train drivers got £22,308, 122% of average. Factory workers got £14,612, 80% of average. The average UK house price was £53,394 (£66,783).
1/7/1995, £87.56, £80.40
1 kg fresh chicken cost £1.70.
1kg beef sirloin steak cost £17.50
1 kg strawberries cost £5.00.
UK Basic State Pension was £58.85 (£59.10), or 17.40% of average gross weekly full-time earnings, £337.60.
The average UK house price was £51,245.
1/1/1995, The World Trade Organisation was created to replace GATT.
17/12/1994, Eurotunnel announced that the fare for the Channel Tunnel was to be £49 day return for a car.
1/7/1994, £84.62, £77.97
POTATOES - 1 kg old potatoes cost 40.5p (43.2p).
UK Basic State Pension was £61.15 (£60.52), or 17.50% of average gross weekly full-time earnings, £351.60.
The average UK house price was £51,634. A second class return rail fare London to Glasgow cost £69.00
1/7/1993, £82.63, £75.23
The average UK house price was £51,211 (£60,326).
18/2/1993. In the UK, Prime Minister John Major faced anger in Parliament after UK unemployment rose to 3,062,065 in January, the highest since April 1987.
30/9/1992. Britain introduced a new and lighter 10p coin.
16/9/1992. ‘Black Wednesday’ as Britain was forced out of the ERM by currency speculators betting on a fall in the pound. The Italian Lira was also ejected. George Soros, financier, had ‘sold short’ more than UK£ 5 billion in the currency markets.
1/7/1992, £81.33, £73.06
The average UK house price was £51,815 (£59,715).
23/3/1992. Freidrich Hayek, economist, born 8/5/1899, died.
16/3/1992. The Nikkei had a bad day, dropping over 3% in one day to below 20,000. It closed at 19,837, compared to nearly 40,000 three years previously. In January 2002 it fell below 10,000.
2/1/1992. Figures from the UK showed that the richest 1% of the population owned 18% of the marketable wealth, whilst the poorest 60% owned 6%.
27/11/1991, A 15th century Bible was sold at Christies, London, to a New York antiquarian bookseller for £1.1 million.
1/7/1991, £78.40, £69.01
The average UK house price was £54,626.
1/3/1991. Wandsworth set the lowest Poll Tax in Britain, £136. Other councils were £400 or more.
24/1/1991. The Gulf war was costing the UK nearly £30 million a day in munitions, lost equipment, and operations spending.
24/10/1990. Ending a three-year freeze on UK child benefit at £7.25 a child, John Major’s government announced a £1 a week rise, but only for the eldest child.
8/10/1990. The UK joined the ERM.
24/9/1990. World oil prices reached $40 a barrel for the first time since 1980. The oil price was around US$ 105 a barrel in 2013.
30/8/1990. Crude oil prices had fallen back from highs of $30 a barrel to around $25.60 but UK petrol prices had soared. On 1/8/1990 they were around 44.9p/litre, but by 31/8/1990 petrol in the UK cost 49.7p/litre. In 2013 it was £1.35 a litre.
3/7/1990. UK house prices were now 5.3% lower than a year ago.
1/7/1990, £74.05, £64.07
BEER - a pint of beer cost £1.14 (£1.32).
BREAD – A large loaf of white sliced bread cost 51p (39.5p),
HOUSING - The average UK house price was £57,683 (£51,384).
MILK - a pint of milk cost 32p (25.2p),
POTATOES - 1 kg old potatoes cost 29.3p (37.8p).
a litre of petrol cost 45p, A second class return rail fare London to Glasgow cost £59.00.
UK Basic State Pension was £46.90 (£49.98), or 17.80% of average gross weekly full-time earnings, £263.10.
20/6/1990, The British Chancellor, John Major, proposed a new European currency, which would circulate alongside national currencies.
27/3/1990. Ford announced 3,000 job losses at its Halewood plant in Merseyside.
1989, Research at the LSE suggested that the UK unemployed were on average £151.84 a year worse off in real terms than they were in 1979 due to Thatcherite Benefits reforms. Benefits levels for single people had fallen 20% and one in 8 unemployed persons were £10 a week worse off than a decade earlier.
1/7/1989, £67.75, £58.40
The average UK house price was £61,514 (£45,835).
1988, British pensioners began to receive Cold Weather payments.
14/9/1988, On route to Sydney, a 6-man expedition arrived in Delhi in a London taxi. Its meter, on London rates, showed a fare of £13,200.
29/7/1988. Unmarried couples sharing a house rushed to beat the Conservative Chancellor Lawson’s 1/8 deadline after which unmarried couples would no longer be able to claim two lots of tax relief on a joint mortgage of £30,000 each. This sparked a record mortgage lending in the UK in the 3rd quarter of 1988 of £3.6 billion, up from £2.2 billion in the 2nd quarter 1988. House prices soared in what became known as the Lawson Boom, followed by the negative equity of the early 1990s as house prices fell again.
1/7/1988, £62.77, £53.51
The average UK house price was £51,405 (£42,919).
NHS prescription charges were £2.80 (£3.76)
14/6/1988. In the UK, top executives pay was rising at 22% a year, compared with a national average of 8.5%.
15/3/1988. The Conservative Chancellor, Nigel Lawson, cut the standard rate of income tax from 27% to 25%. The highest rate was cut from 60% to 40%. Total tax cuts in his budget amounted to £4 billion, mostly going to higher income earners. On 20/3/1988 a survey in the UK found 60% of the population opposed these tax cuts.
12/3/1988. The British £1 note ceased to be legal tender, replaced by the £1 coin.
29/2/1988. In the UK, prescription charges rose by 20p to £2.60 per item from 1/4/1988. In February 2003 they were £6.20 an item, up 158.3% on February 1988. Over this period the RPI rose 72%.
22/10/1987. The first volume of the Gutenberg Bible became the world’s most expensive book when it was sold at auction at New York for US$ 5.39 million.
19/10/1987. ‘Black Monday’ on Wall Street wiped millions off stock prices around the world. Wall Street ended the day a record 22% lower, 508 points down, a bigger fall than in the 1929 crash. The FT in London fell almost 250 points, threatening the UK government’s sell-off of BP shares. There were concerns that the US trade deficit, now at US$ 15.7 billion, and a 40% fall in the value of the Dollar, would cause higher interest rates.
1/7/1987, £59.84, £49.20
The average UK house price was £43,165.
18/6/1987, UK unemployment figures fell below 3 million.
30/3/1987. ‘Sunflowers’, the painting by Vincent Van Gogh, was sold for £24,750,000 at Christie’s auction, London.
13/2/1987. London’s property boom resulted in the sale of a 5 foot 6 inch by 11-foot broom cupboard being put on the market for £36,000.
1/7/1986, £57.44, £45.64
Average wages in the UK were £9,625 per year. GPs got £18,772, 195% of average. Teachers got £11,128, 116% of average. Train drivers got £10,608, 110% of average. Factory workers got £7,436, 77% of average. The average UK house price was £37,627 (£35,605).
18/3/1986, UK Income Tax was reduced to 29%.
17/3/1986, The US$ reached its lowest post war rate against the Japanese Yen.
1/7/1985, £55.55, £42.29
UK Basic State Pension was £38.30 (£37.50), or 22.40% of average gross weekly full-time earnings, £171.00.
The average UK house price was £34,378 (£33,917).
22/2/1985, The UK£ reached an all-time low against the US$ of $1.0765.
11/2/1985. The Pound fell below US$1.10.
31/12/1984,. In the UK, the ½ p coin ceased to be legal tender. A useful emergency screwdriver disappeared from people’s pockets.
31/10/1984 ACAS talks between the National Union of Mineworkers and the National Coal Board broke down again.
9/7/1984. British Rail’s catering division, Travellers Fare, increased the price of a cup of tea from 20p to 22p, and coffee from 30p to 32p.
1/7/1984, £52.37, £39.00
The average UK house price was £31,050 (£31,277).
14/5/1984, Australia introduced a one-dollar coin.
1/2/1984, The UK Chancellor, Nigel Lawson, announced the forthcoming abolition of the halfpenny coin.
1/7/1983. £49.88, £36.79
BREAD - a large loaf of bread cost 42p (25.9p).
CIGARETTES - 20 cigarettes cost £1.05 (£1.94).
HOUSING - The average UK house cost £27,622 (£25,906).
LAGER - A pint of lager cost £0.61 (99.8p).
MILK - In the UK, a pint of milk cost 21p (16.0p),
TV LICENCE - The TV licence cost £46 (£51.87).
A gallon of four-star petrol cost £1.65, equivalent to £3.42 in 2003. Actual 2003 price was £3.32. A family car cost £5,811, equivalent to £12,053 in 2003. Actual 2003 price was £11,145. Average weekly earnings were £147.40, equivalent to £305.75 in 2003. In fact, 2003 weekly earnings were £464.70.
21/4/1983. In Britain, the £1 coin (£2.09 in 2000) entered circulation for the first time. One pound notes were replaced in England and Wales, but remained in circulation in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
3/2/1983. In the UK, unemployment reached an all-time high of 3,224,715, as Thatcherite monetarist policies began to bite.
1/7/1982, £47.69, £33.93
The average UK house price was £24,851 (£27,211).
26/1/1982. UK unemployment hit 3 million.
1/7/1981, £43.91, £31.00
The average UK house price was £23,954 (£24,866)
23/4/1981, British unemployment reached 2.5 million.
21/2/1981. The Guardian raised its price from 18p to 20p. In June 2001 it raised its price from 45p to 50p, and in September 2002 the price rose to 55p.
17/12/1980, Professor Alan Walters was appointed as personal economic advisor to Mrs Thatcher.
8/12/1980. UK unemployment passed the 3 million mark for the first time since 1935.
27/8/1980, UK unemployment reached 2 million.
1/7/1980, £39.25, £27.45
BEER - a pint of beer cost 34p (59.9p).
BREAD - A large loaf of white sliced bread cost 33p (20.4p),
HOUSING - The average new UK house price was £23,600 (£22,017).
MILK - a pint of milk cost 17p (13.3p)
a litre of petrol cost 25.8p,
UK Basic State Pension was £27.15 (£26.49), or 24.40% of average gross weekly full-time earnings, £111.20.
24/6/1980, UK unemployment reached 1.6 million.
22/4/1980, UK unemployment passed 1.5 million.
5/4/1980. The world’s rarest stamp, the black on magenta 1 cent British Guiana of 1856, sold in New York for US$ 850,000, or approximately £500,000.
6/10/1979, Inflationary pressures were mounting in response to oil price hikes, after a cold winter 1978/9 and cuts in Iranian production after the Iranian Revolution. Bankers, to protect the real value of their capital, pressured the US Government to intervene. This day the US Federal Reserve announced it would use interest rates to rein in inflation, which in the USA stood at 13.3%, up from 9% a year earlier, and peaked at 21.5% in December 1980. In response US GDP growth fell from +5% in 1978 to -3% in 1982 before rising again. Meanwhile the UK also hiked its Bank Rate by 3% to a record 17% in November 1979, causing the loss of 1 million manufacturing jobs. The global oil price fell back to 1978 levels in real terms and UK inflation, never below 8% throughout the 70s, fell back to 5%.
1/7/1979, £33.27, £22.82
12/6/1979, Sir Geoffrey Howe, Chancellor of the Exchequer, introduced the new Conservative government’s first Budget. In a decisive change of political direction, direct taxes such as income tax were cut but indirect taxes increased. VAT was raised to 15%. Public spending was cut. Controls on pay, prices and dividends were scrapped, and incentives provided to businesspeople.
23/5/1979. Ten days into the new Conservative administration, the Secretary for the Environment, Michael Heseltine, put Britain’s six million council and New Town homes up for sale. Existing tenants could obtain discounts of up to 50%.
1/1/1979. The European Monetary System (EMS) was formed.
7/7/1978. The EEC looked at proposals to link together its different currencies.
1/7/1978, £29.34, £19.76
7/4/1978. A copy of the Gutenberg Bible sold in New York for US$ 2 million.
31/12/1977, For the first time since the invention of the internal combustion engine, the UK imported more cars than it made itself.
2/7/1977, UK miners sought £135 a week for a 4-day week.
1/7/1977, £27.09, £17.49
BEER - A pint of beer cost 38p (48.2p).
BREAD - A large loaf of white bread cost 22p (14.1p).
BUTTER - 250g of butter cost 30.4p (22.5p).
CIGARETTES - 20 king-size cigarettes cost 55p (£1.05).
MILK- A pint of milk cost 11.5p (9.21p).
TEA - 125g loose tea cost 32.6p (21.4p).
A lb of back bacon cost 96p. A lb of potatoes cost 4p. A lb of oranges cost 22p. A sack of house coal cost £2.26.
17/6/1977. Britain’s unemployment figure rose to 1,450,055; 6.2% of the working population of 23.4 million. The average price of cigarettes was 60p for 20.
29/9/1976, Britain, humiliatingly, was forced to ask the IMF for a £2.1 billion loan, the maximum allowed, to prop up the ailing Pound. There had been a run on the Pound following left wing successes at the Labour Party Annual Conference. The UK economy was also suffering from high inflation, high Government spending, an energy crisis, and high wage demands. Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan was resisting Left-wing demands for lower taxes and a bigger Welfare budget.
25/9/1976. The BBC called for a rise in the licence fee, from £18 to £27 for colour and from £8 to £12 for black and white. The licence fee stood at £145 in 2013.
25/8/1976, UK unemployment passed the 1.5 million mark.
1/7/1976, £23.29, £16.02
Average pay in the UK was £3,340 per year. GPs got £6,344, 190% of average. Teachers got £4,576, 137% of average. Train drivers got £3,900, 116% of average. Factory workers got £3,172, 95% of average. Average UK house price was £11,866.
21/8/1975, British unemployment figures reached 1.25 million.
22/7/1975. (1) Britain’s unemployment figures, at 1,087, 869, were the worst since World War Two.
(2) It was announced that the fixed £2 parking fine – set in 1960 and by then regarded as a good buy by some motorists – would be increased to £6 in September.
11/7/1975, Inflation reached 25% in Britain. The Government limited annual pay rises to £6 a week, and to zero for those earning over £8,500 a year. Firms would be fined of they passed on higher wage costs in price rises. Prime Minister Harold Wilson called the plan tough but essential.
1/7/1975, £20.07, £13.85
UK Basic State Pension was £13.30 (£13.55), or 24.60% of average gross weekly full-time earnings, £54.00.
1/7/1974. £16.15, £10.93
A loaf of bread cost 15p, and beer rose in the budget by 1p to 15p a pint.
1973, The US median sales price of an existing home stood at US$ 28,900, up from US$ 20,000 in 1968; in 1`976 the price would be US$ 38,100.
17/10/1973. Oil prices suddenly rose 70%. Saudi Arabia and several other oil-rich Arab countries voted to cut off supplies to America, and on 19/10/1973 Libya said it would also cut supplies to the USA and raise the price of oil to other countries from $4.90 a barrel to $8.25 a barrel. On 21/10/1973 Dubai, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait also cut US supplies. This was OPEC’s first major action since it was founded in 1960. Western experts predicted oil prices of over $100 a barrel by 2000. In fact in 2003 prices were around $30 a barrel. However they were rising through US$ 60 in June 2005, and just over US$ 100 a barrel in 2013.
4/9/1973. First class stamps rose to 3 ½ pence and second class to 3p, and the price of half a dozen eggs rose by 2p, making them between 37p and 42p for six.
1/7/1973, £13.92, £9.30
BREAD - A 800g white loaf of bread cost 11p (7.24p).
BUTTER - 250g UK butter cost 13p.(11.6p)
LAGER - A pint of draught lager cost 14p (27.8p).
MILK - A pint of milk cost 6p (4.73p).
SUGAR - 1kg granulated sugar cost 11p (7.79p).
The average UK house price was £10,000 (£5,057.70)
1kg dessert apples cost 28p. 1kg pork sausages cost 58p. 1kg carrots cost 11p. 100g instant coffee cost 28p. 1.5kg self-raising flour cost 15p. 1 litre diesel cost 14p. An average detached house cost £16,980. Gold was £34 per troy ounce.
6/3/1973, The UK government budget introduced VAT and car tax.
1/4/1973. VAT, or Value Added Tax, was introduced in Britain. It replaced Purchase Tax and Selective Employment Tax; this latter tax was meant to favour manufacturing jobs over services, and so prop up the UK’s old staple industries, but was doomed to failure.
31/12/1972, Sinclair were selling a pocket calculator for £79, or US$ 195.
9/11/1972. New London Stock Exchange opened by the Queen.
6/11/1972, The UK faced continued large pay claims, such as the miners settlement of a 22% rise in February 1972 backdated to November 1971. Rising inflation was an ongoing threat. On this day the Prime Minister announced a compulsory freeze on prices, pay, dividends and rents for a period of 90 days, with a possible extension of a further 60 days.
13/10/1972. In Britain, the ‘Minimum Lending Rate’ replaced the ‘Bank Rate’.
1/7/1972, £12.76, £8.17
Annual fees at Eton public school were £800.
23/6/1972, Anthony Barber, UK Chancellor, announced he would float the Pound to try and curb inflation.
20/1/1972, UK unemployment passed the 1 million mark.
18/10/1971. UK unemployment approached one million, whilst statistics showed that one in six women and one in nine men would enter hospital at least once in their lifetime due to mental illness.
1/9/1971, The old British penny and three penny coins ceased to be legal tender.
15/8/1971, President Richard Nixon closed the ‘gold window’ under which US Dollars could still be exchanged for gold. The ancient link between money and precious metal was now completely severed,
1/7/1971, £11.91, £7.27
BEER - A pint of beer cost 15p (21.4p).
BREAD - A large loaf of bread cost 10p (5.19p).
CIGARETTES - A pack of 20 cigarettes cost 27p (.
MILK - A pint of milk cost 6p (4.05p)
SUGAR - 1 kg sugar cost 9p (6.57p).
The average UK new house cost £5,632 (£67,843 in 2013 prices). The average wage was £2,000 (£24,000 in 2013 prices).. 2.5 kg chicken cost £1.17p (£14.02 in 2013 prices)
7/4/1971, UK unemployment rose to 814,819, the highest since 1940.
15/2/1971. Decimal coins adopted in Britain, see 23/4/1968. New coins issued were the 2p, 1p, and 1/2p. Old pennies and threepenny bits ceased to be legal tender on 1/9/1971.
20/11/1970. In the UK, the 10 shilling note went out of circulation.
9/7/1970. The Bank of England issued £20 notes again; the last £20 notes had been withdrawn in 1945.
1/7/1970. £10.88, £6.53.
BEER - A pint of beer cost 10.7p (19.6p).
BREAD - a large loaf of bread cost 9p (5.66p).
CIGARETTES - cigarettes were 20p for 20 (42.3p).
HOUSING - The average house price was £4,975 (£5,244).
LAGER - a pint of lager cost 20p (21.8p).
MILK - A pint of milk cost 5p (3.60p),
UK Basic State Pension was £5.00 (£7.34), or 19,00% of average gross weekly full-time earnings, £26.10.
The range Rover, launched in 1970, cost £1,998; in 2004 a 4.4 litre Range Rover cost £57,700. The Mini, introduced in 1959, cost £600; its redesigned 2004 version cost £10,500 in 2004. Petrol was 7.3p a litre, or 33p a gallon, as against 90p a litre in late 2006. A trip for two to the cinema cost under 90p (2004 = £9.00) and a bottle of average wine cost £1.00 (2004 = £4.50). A bottle of whisky cost £2.69 (2004 = £12.00). Average UK life expectancy was 72, as against 77 in 2004.
1/1/1970. The half-crown coin (2 shillings and 6 pence, or 12 1/2p) (£1.15) ceased to be legal tender in the UK.
1969, The Ruhr coalfield had 57 pits employing 123,000. In 1964 there had been 99 pits employing 325,400.
10/12/1969, A Nobel Prize was added for Economics.
14/10/1969. The 7-sided 50p coin came into circulation in Britain, replacing the 10-shilling note (£4.89).
8/8/1969, The French Franc was devalued by 11.1%, and Sterling came under pressure.
1/8/1969. The British pre-decimal halfpenny ceased to be legal tender.
1968, The number of coal mines in northern France stood at 28, down from 125 in 1938. 87,000 were employed by the collieries, down from 210,000 in 1948. In 1970 it was announced that the entire coalfield would close by 1983. Meanwhile the region’s textile industry had also been shedding jobs, down from 224,000 in 1931 to 168,000 in 1954 and 121,000 in 1968. These textiles jobs had been mainly held by women, commuting from the coal towns, but as technology became more significant in the textile industry, the jobs were more held by men.
16/9/1968. Britain adopted a two tier postal system, stamps cost 5d or 4d.
1/7/1969, £10.23, £5.82.
1/7/1968, £9.71, £5.41.
23/4/1968. First decimal coins, the 5p and 10p coins, appeared in Britain, see 15/2/1971. On 14/10/1969, 50 pence pieces replaced ten shilling notes; these notes ceased to be legal tender on 21/11/1970.
1/4/1968, Speculation in the gold market; gold was US$ 38 an ounce in London.
16/1/1968, The UK government announced public expenditure cuts of £700 million. This included postponing a rise in the school-leaving age, and re-imposing prescription charges (see Medical; 1/2/1965).
18/11/1967. Devaluation of Sterling. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr James Callaghan, announced a 14.3% devaluation, from $2.80 to $2.40 to the pound. He resigned the Chancellorship eleven days later.
10/1967, The UK basic State pension was £4.50 (£6.55).
1/7/1967, £9.28, £5.01.
The world price of tin stood at £1,200 per ton, up from £800 in 1960 (in 2016 the world tin price was US$ 19,300 per tonne). Global tin consumption had raced ahead of production, causing a drawdown of 80,000 in worldwide tin stocks.
12/4/1967. The UK£ reached parity with the US$.
1966, The Lancashire coalfield now had eleven collieries, down from 363 in 1854. The South Wales coalfield had 63 collieries employing 48,000 men, down from 500 collieries and 250,000 men at its peak in 1913.
20/7/1966. Harold Wilson imposed a wages freeze in the UK. Inflation was high.
1/7/1966, £9.04, £4.83
BEER - A pint of beer cost 2 shillings (10p) (16.3p).
In the UK, the average wage for teachers was £1,400 per year (152% of average pay). A top league footballer earned £5,200, and a manual worker was on £1,040 a year, 112% of average. A GP earned £2,964, 320% of average. A train driver earned £884, 95% of average pay. Average pay in 1966 was £1,220 for men, and £630 for women. The average annual wage was £926. A two bedroom terraced house in Northampton cost £1,150. A gallon of petrol cost 5s 3d (26p). An off-the-peg Burton’s suit cost £15.
19/2/1966.. Statistics in the Ministry of Labour Gazette revealed the weekly average income for a British household as £24 2s 11d.
6/12/1965. The Redundancy Payments Act came into force; it was described as a major step in the modernisation of British industry.
1/7/1965, £8.69, £4.54
UK Basic State Pension was £4.00 (£5.87), or 21.80% of average gross weekly full-time earnings, £18.36.
23/11/1964, In an attempt to avert a Sterling Crisis, the Bank of England raised rates from 5% to 7%. This was merely seen by the markets as a sign of panic and the next day, a massive sell off of Sterling began. On 26/10/1964 a temporary 15% charge was placed on imports to the UK to rectify the balance of trade deficit. On 2/12/1964 the UK was forced to draw US$ 1 billion from the IMF. Further IMF funds were drawn during 1965. The import charge was reduced to 10% on 22/2/1965.
11/11/1964, In the UK, the new Labour Chancellor introduced a mildly deflationary budget. Measures included 6d a gallon more tax on petrol.
21/2/1964. £10 notes were issued for the first time since World War Two.
1/7/1964, £8.31, £4.27
1/7/1963, £8.04, £3.94
5/1963, The UK basic State pension was £3.38 (£5.42).
16/3/1963. Lord Beveridge, founder of the Welfare State, died.
22/1/1963. UK unemployment was it its highest since World War Two, at 814,632.
26/12/1962. Base rates in Britain were 4%, the Chancellor, Reginald Maudling, announced that rates were to fall.
1/7/1962, £7.84, £3.83
9/4/1962. The Budget dominated much of the day’s TV. Measures included abolition of tax on sugar, coffee, tea, and cocoa. But a 15% Purchase tax was placed on ice cream, sweets, and soft drinks. A Picasso fetched £80,000, the highest price ever paid for the work of a living artist. Scotland Yard announced that visitors from abroad who illegally parked in meter zones would be given a polite cautionary leaflet instead of the £2 parking ticket.
21/1/1962 The threat of a general strike loomed as trade unions made it clear they intended to oppose the government’s wage restraint policy.
25/7/1961, The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Selwyn Lloyd, introduced a pay freeze for UK workers which was to last 9 months. He was concerned that over the previous 12 months, pay had risen 8% whereas national production had only risen 3%.
1/7/1961, £7.56, £3.40.
4/1961, The UK basic State pension was £2.88 (£5.10).
13/3/1961, In the UK, the old black and white £5 notes ceased to be legal tender.
31/12/1960, The farthing ceased to be legal tender in Britain. At a quarter of an old penny there were 960 of them to the pound sterling.
1/7/1960. £7.31, £3.30
BREAD - A loaf of bread cost 1 shilling (5p) (3.80p).
BUTTER - 250g of butter cost 12p
CIGARETTES - 20 king-size cigarettes cost 20p
HOUSING - The average house price in the UK was £2,500 (£2,548).
MILK - A pint of milk cost 3.3p (2.48p),
PETROL - A litre of unleaded petrol cost 5p
POTATOES - 1 kg old potatoes cost 2.57p (3.73p).
SUGAR - A kilogram of sugar cost 6.5p
TEA - 125g loose tea cost 8.3p
UK Basic State Pension was £2.50 (£4.93), or 18.26% of average gross weekly full-time earnings, £13.69.
WAGES - Average annual wage was £700
A portion of fish and chips cost 6p. 1 kg apples cost £11p. A GP earned £2,425 per annum, and a coal miner was paid £9 17s 6d a week. A Belling 48T electric cooker cost £51 and a Lavalux washing machine cost £87 3s. A hoover steam-dry iron cost £4 12s 1d. A second class return rail fare London to Glasgow cost £8.40.
1/7/1959. £7.24, £3.24.
A teacher got £900 a year, a nurse was paid £540. At Oxendales in Manchester, a Mastra V.35 camera cost £13 14s 11d (£13.75) and a one-bar electric fire cost £2 6s 3d (£2.31). The average UK house price was £2,500.
1/7/1958. £7.21, £3.11
A farm worker earned £7 10s (£7.50) per week and a train driver got £11 2s 6d (£11.13) a week. The Rolls Royce ‘Phantom V cost £8,905, and a Mars Bar cost 6d (2.5p).
11/3/1958. Unemployment in the USA reached 5.2 million.
1/1958, The UK basic State pension was £2.50 (£4.86).
1/7/1957. £6.98, £2.95
The footballer’s maximum wage was raised to £20 per week. A baker earned £7 15s 3d (£7.76) per week. In the Whiteleys Christmas catalogue, an electric razor cost £10 17s (£10.85), a cashmere cardigan cost £10 17s 6d (£10.88), and a tropical fish tank cost £4 4s (£4.20).
1/6/1957. The computer, ERNIE, drew the first Premium Bond prize. The first prize was £1,000. The lowest prize was £10.
3/11/1956, In Scunthorpe, 14 inch TVs cost 14 Guineas, 17 inch ones cost 69 Guineas, and a 21 inch model cost 88 Guineas; black and white, (I Guinea = £1.05).
1/7/1956. £6.75, £2.84
17/4/1956. Premium Bonds were introduced by Chancellor Harold MacMillan; prizes went up to £1,000.
30/10/1955, A street sweeper in Scunthorpe was paid £7.10 a week, for a 44-hour week.
1/7/1955. £6.42, £2.63
A male office worker in the UK earned an average of £728 a year; a woman office worker was paid just £416 a year. A skilled manual worker earned £572 a year if male; if female, she earned £291 a year. In 2003, average wages for all were £24,000 a year. New houses cost an average £1,891 in 1955, as against £150,000 in 2003. Dockers called off their strike.
UK Basic State Pension was £2.00 (£4.33), or 19.00% of average gross weekly full-time earnings, £10.55.
1/7/1954. £6.15, £2.51
A UK coalminer earned £7 15s (£7.75) a week, a police constable got £445 a year. Dunlop’s ‘Canzonetta’ rayon coat cost £7 15s (£7.75), a ‘Coty 212’ lipstick cost 6s 9d (34p), and a sports shirt cost 9s 6d (47.5p).
The average UK house price was £2,000 (£1,360.75)
15/10/1953. A Ferguson 12 inch TV cost 55 guineas (about £60), and a jackpot winner at Littlewoods would have won £7,297.
1/7/1953. £6.03, £2.42
At the Army and Navy Stores in London a wool blanket cost £2 9s 6d (£2.48), and a silver spoon and fork with Coronation hallmark cost £4. A one pint thermos flak cost 8s 6d (42.5p). Train drivers got £8 8s 6d (£8.43) a week. Footballers accepted a maximum weekly wage of £15. In the UK, 35% of the population were owner-occupiers, 19% rented from the local council, and 46% rented from private landlords.
2/6/1953. Beer was 1 shilling 10 pence (9p) a pint, and the average wage was £9 a week.
9/1952, The UK basic State pension was £1.63 (£3.95).
1/7/1952. £5.85, £2.27
BEER - A pint of beer cost 9.5p (10.5p).
BREAD - A large loaf of white hread cost 3.1p (3.04p).
BUTTER - 250g of butter cost 8.44p (4.96p).
CIGARETTES - 20 king-size cigarettes cost 21p (22.7p).
MILK - A pint of milk cost 2.7p (1.99p).
POTATOES – 1 kg of potatoes cost 12.8p (29.8p).
TEA – 125g loose tea cost 6.3p (4.52p).
A UK teacher earned £806 a year, a nurse got £394. A jar of Poem cleansing cold cream cost 3s 6d (17.5p), a bar of Pears transparent soap cost 10.5d (4.5p), and a tube of Solidox toothpaste cost 1s 4d (7p). A lb of back bacon cost 23p. A lb of oranges cost 5.3p. A sack of house coal cost 26p.
1951, Two thirds of UK workers now received at least two weeks paid holiday, in addition to statutory Bank Holidays.
1/7/1951. £5.36, £2.08
A police constable earned £400 a year, a teacher got £766. A GECD electric cleaner cost £14 14s (£14.70), a 1 lb (0.45 kg) tin of Nescafe cost 9s (45p) and a 4 oz (0.11 kg) tin of Ovaltine cost 2s 6d (12.5p).
9/5/1951, In Britain, the Government decided to pay Old Age Pensions at age 60 for women, 65 for men, not 65 and 70 as originally planned.
1950, The average US citizen was nearly 22x wealthier than the average Chinese citizen, compared to 2x richer in 1820 and 5x richer in 1870. In 2006 the multiple was still around 22x, by market exchange rates.
14/11/1950, Britain’s National Coal Board published the Plan For Coal. Demand was assumed to rise over the next 10-15 years and production would be expanded by 20%; some 250 of Britain’s 900 collieries would be comprehensively modernised. By the 1960s some 20 new super-collieries would be opened, and some 350-400 smaller ones closed, mainly in central Scotland, west Durham, Lancashire, Cannock Chase and the Forest of Dean.
1/7/1950, £4.91, £1.83
BREAD - 800g sliced white bread cost 2p (2.55p).
BUTTER - 250g of butter cost 6p (4.08p).
CHEESE - 250g of cheddar cheese cost 3p (5.80p).
CIGARETTES - A packet of 20 Woodbines cost 2s 9d (14p) (19.1p).
EGGS - 6 eggs cost 11p (4.03p).
MILK - 1 pint of pasteurised milk cost 2p (1.57p).
POTATOES - 1 kg old potatoes cost 1p (2,51p).
SUGAR - 1 kg granulated sugar cost 5p (2.75p).
TEA - 125g of loose tea cost 5p (3.98p).
UK Basic State Pension was £1.30 (£3.31), or 18.36% of average gross weekly full-time earnings, £7.08.
A train driver, on average, earned £6 18s (£6.90p) a week; a baker earned £5 7s 4d (£5.37p) a week. The London to Paris airfare was £8, London to New York cost £125 by plane. A Cook’s Round The World Tour, taking 140 days, cost £400. 500g of streaky bacon cost 11p. 500g of beef cost 6p. 500g of margarine cost 5p.
26/5/1950. Petrol rationing ended in Britain, after 10 years. The price per gallon on 1/6/1950 was 3 shillings, compared with 1 shilling, 11d (9.5p, or about 2p a litre) a gallon before WW 2. (In 2001 unleaded cost about 69p a litre, and was 80p or more a litre in 2000. At end 2005 it was around 85p a litre, having nudged the £1 a litre level in summer 2005 due to unrest in Iraq and growing demand from China, as well as a major hurricane in the oil refining area of the Mississippi delta.). In January 2008, crude oil was at US$97 to US$100 a barrel, and UK petrol (standard unleaded) was around £1.05 a litre. By November 2008 petrol had fallen back to just over 90p a litre, but was £1.32 in 2013. The first ‘package holiday’, 2 weeks in Corsica organised by Horizon, cost £32 10 shillings.
18/9/1949. The British Pound was devalued by 30% by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Sir Stafford Cripps. The exchange rate to the US$ fell from 4.03 to 2.80. This would raise the cost of living by 5%. Britain faced a severe Dollar deficit, and in the first quarter of 1949 alone had to sell US$ 160 million of gold. On the same day the milk ration was reduced to 2 pints per person per week. The milk ration had been reduced to 2 ½ pints a week on 11/9/1949.
1/7/1949. £4.76, £1.84
The maximum wage for footballers in the UK was set at £12 per week. A nurse was paid £350 a year. A pint of milk cost 5d (2p), the same as a Mars bar, which went on sale in the UK for the first time. 20 Woodbines cost 2s 9d (14p).
18/4/1949. The Boy Scouts began their first ‘bob-a-job’ (5p) week.
1/4/1949, The 6th Marquess of Bath took the unprecedented step of opening his house to visits by paying tourists. 135,000 came in the first 12 months. As he later explained, aristocratic homes had to be run as businesses, to gain the same tax regime as other businesses. The assets of the wealthy had been shrunk by heavy taxation, including Death Duties of 75% on estates of over £1million.
1/7/1948. £4.63, £1.81
A secondary school teacher with a degree earned £615 a year, a baker was paid £5 5s(£5.25) a week. The air fare from London to New York was £86 17s (£86.85p). The standard rail fare from Manchester to London return was £1 17s (£1.85p). The return bus fare from Manchester to Wythenshawe, 8 miles, was 1 shilling (5p). The level of income below which people could receive National Assistance, the official Poverty Line, was set by Asquith at £1 14s (£1.70_ a week, a level set with government expenditure as well as poverty in mind.
1/4/1948. Average weekly earnings for men aged over 21 were £6, 14 shillings £6.70). For women over 18 full time they were £3, 12 shillings, 11d (£3.64.5p). Adult men worked an average 46.5 hours a week; adult women worked 41.6 hours average. The food and drink industry paid some of the lowest wages, at average weekly wage £6, 4 shillings, 1d (£6.20.5p) for men and £3, 8 shillings, 7d (£3.43) for women.
1//7/1947. £4.30, £1.68.
BEER - A pint of beer rose from 1s 1d (5.5p) to 1s 4d (7p) (7.74p).
BREAD - 800g sliced white bread cost 2p (2.27p).
BUTTER - 250g of butter cost 4p (3.57p).
CHEESE - 250g of cheddar cheese cost 2p (5.08p).
EGGS - 6 eggs cost 4p (3.53p).
HOUSING - The average UK house cost £1,577 (£1,467).
MILK - 1 pint of pasteurised milk cost 2p (1.46p).
POTATOES - 1 kg old potatoes cost 1p (2.19p).
SUGAR - 1 kg granulated sugar cost 3p (2.41p).
TEA - 125g of loose tea cost 4p (3.40p).
A Police Constable was paid £273 a year. A ‘New Length Cardigan’ from Debenham and Freebody cost £4 3s 2d (£4.16p) plus 6 coupons. A man’s watch cost £6.40. The average UK wage was £351 a year. A 6-bed house in Wimbledon cost £7,250 (4.60 x average). Road tax for a car cost ££1. 2 weeks in Lucerne cost £57. 500g of streaky bacon cost 8p. 500g of beef cost 7p. 500g of margarine cost 4p. The Observer newspaper cost 1p.
1/1/1947. All British ‘silver coins’, except Maundy Money, now made from cupro-nickel, 75% copper and 25% nickel.
22/11/1946. The first ball point pen went on sale, invented by the Hungarian Laslo Biro. The pen, which would write 200,000 words without refilling, went on sale for £2.75.
25/8/1946, In Britain, a flourishing black market existed in nylons, chocolate and perfumes.
7/1946, Hungary recorded the world’s highest ever hyper-inflation rate. Prices in Hungary had risen over the previous 12 months by 4,190,000,000,000,000,000% (4.19 quintillion percent). On 5/2/1946 Hungary issues the world’s most worthless stamp. At a value of 3,000 pengo, at 1946 exchange rates, one British penny would have bought 50,000 million of these stamps.
1/7/1946. £4.06, £1.60
Bananas, available for the first time since the war, cost 1s 1d (5.5p) per pound. A pound of pork sausages cost 14s 5d (72.5p). A whole haddock cost 9d (4p). The average weekly wage for a farm labourer was 72s 2d (£3.61p), and a weaver in the textiles industry got 84s 7d (£4.23p) a week.
1/6/1946. The first TV licences issued in Britain, at a cost of £2. TV broadcasting resumed in Britain.
21/4/1946, The economist Lord Keynes died of a heart attack. He believed that unemployment could only be eased by public spending.
29/10/1945. Biro pens went on sale in New York for the first time. Priced at US$1.25 at Gimbels store, some 10,000 were sold in one day.
14/8/1945. J M Keynes warned that Britain was facing a ‘financial Dunkirk’ as Lend Lease was ended (see 20/8/1945). Britain’s overseas debts had risen from UK£ 496 million in 1939 to UK£ 3,500 million in 1945. Pre-War gold and Dollar reserves had been used up, along with UK£1,118 million of overseas investments. The UK only avoided bankruptcy with a US$ 4,000 million loan from the USA, granted on strict terms including abandoning the trade preferences granted to Commonwealth countries and making Sterling fully convertible. When these terms were implemented in 1947, Sterling crashed.
1/7/1945. £3.90, £1.29
The average wage of a bricklayer in London was 2s (10p) an hour; in Glasgow it was 2s 2d (11p) an hour. A 4lb (1.75 kg) loaf of bread cost 8d (3.3p) A gallon of petrol cost 1s 11d (9 ½p). A week at the Victoria Hotel, Buttermere, Lake District, with full board, cost £5 5s (£5.25). Quite expensive for the London bricklayer.
The average UK house price was £1,000 (£700.50)
15/6/1945. Family Allowance payments were introduced in Britain. The rates were 5 shillings (25 pence) for the second child and subsequent ones, but nothing for the first child.
22/7/1944, The Bretton Wood conference ended.
1/7/1944. £3.83, £1.33
(1) A bottle of Scotch cost 25s 9d (£1.29), up from 16s (80p) at the start of the War. A ‘coupon saver’ dress from Debenham and Freebody cost £9 9s (£9.45) plus 11 coupons. A ‘popular crepon neat practical skirt’ from the same store cost £2 9s 11d (£2.49 ½) plus six coupons. The First Sea Lord and Chief of |Naval Staff received an annual salary of £4,525. the Senior Design Officer in the Directorate of camouflage got an annual salary of £700.
(2) The Bretton Woods Conference began. Representatives from 44 nations began formulating the post World War Two International Monetary Policy.
6/4/1944. In the UK, PAYE (pay as you earn) Income Tax began.
22/9/1943. UK government announced that P.A.Y.E. was to begin in April 1944. Income tax collection needed reform after the number of manual workers paying it rose from 1 million in 1939 to 7 million in 1943. Deduction from pay packets based on the previous year’s earnings was considered, but that could cause hardship if overtime fell. The solution was to deduct tax at wage payment each week.
1/7/1943. £3.74, £1.27
18/2/1943, In Britain, the House of Commons voted in principle to accept the proposals of Beveridge’s Welfare State.
1/12/1942. The Beveridge Report was published. William Henry Beveridge’s report was the foundation of the British Welfare State. Beveridge was born at Rangpur, in Bengal, on 5/3/1879, and was a distinguished academic and economist; he helped establish labour Exchanges after joining the Board of Trade in 1908. His report of 1942 was entitled ‘Report on Social Insurance and Allied Services’ and advocated a free national health service and unemployment and sickness benefit. The report envisaged ‘Slaying the Five Giants of Want, Ignorance, Squalor, Idleness and Disease’. This became a reality under the post-war Labour government of Clement Attlee, elected 26/7/1945. Beveridge became a Baron in 1946.
3/10/1942. New US law froze wages, rents, and farm prices.
1/7/1942. £3.61, £1.21
In Britain, a bottle of Scotch cost 23 shillings (£1.15), a recent rise from 17s 6d (88p). A woman’s “Tweed Swagger Coat” from Peter Robinson’s Wartime Shopping cost £1 10s (£1.50). The Chairman of the Governors of the BBC earned £3,000 per annum, and the Press officer for the Ministry of Economic Warfare got £900 a year.
15/6/1942, In the UK, restaurants were forbidden from charging more than 5 shillings (25p) for a meal. Whilst they could charge more for wine, very little wine was available in wartime Britain. Some of the more upmarket hotel restaurants evaded this restriction by charging several shillings for ‘service’.
1/7/1941. £3.40, £1.17
In Britain a pint of beer cost 10d (4p), up from 9d. A pair of ‘Land Girl’ tailored cord breeches cost 17s 6d (88p), half a dozen medium eggs cost 7 1/2d (3p) from J Sainsbury. Income tax was 8s 6d (43p) in the pound. A tax inspector earned £975 a year, the Secretary of State for War was paid £5,000 per annum.
5/2/1941, The War was costing Britain £11 million per day.
21/10/1940. Purchase Tax was introduced in Britain.
1/7/1940. £3.07, £1.12
In Britain, the average annual income of a GP was £1,094; a bricklayer earned 80s 7d (£4.03) a week. A pint of beer went up to 9d (4p), at Sainsbury half a dozen medium eggs cost 7 1/2d (3p). 12 shredded wheat cost 8d (3 1/2p). A pair of man’s ‘sports shorts’ cost 11s 6d (58p) from ‘Peter Robinson’s Wartime Shopping’ and a pair of Clark’s ‘Babbacombe Luce Corrugated Crepe Rubber Soled Shoes’ cost 13s 6d (68p). Cadbury’s Bourn-vita cost 9d (4p) per quarter-pound.
The average cost per mile of running an 8 horsepower car was estimated at 2.18 pence (0.9p) per mile.
From 1/5/1940, UK postal rates were 2 ½ d (1.1p) for a letter not exceeding 2 ounces weight, 2d (0.9p) for a postcard, and 1d (0.4p) for a ‘printed paper’.
29/3/1940. The Bank of England introduced metal strips into £1 notes as an anti-forgery device.
27/9/1939. In the UK, Sir John Simon’s budget raised Income Tax from 25% to 27.5%. there was also a 6pm curfew on most shops, except tobacconists, confectioners and newsagents, which hit small grocers that had done much of their trade in the evening as customers retuned from work.
1/7/1939. £2.72, £1.03
MILK - 1 pint of milk cost 1.75p (0.925p).
1938, The average weekly wage for a male industrial worker in the UK was £3 9s.
Full board at a popular holiday resort such as Brighton or Margate cost around £1 15s a week, rising to £2 2s in holiday season. Adding in spending and travel money meant that a week’s summer holiday for a family of two adults and two children would cost around £10, or three week’s wages for the average worker. However in 1939 a miner and his wife could holiday at Skegness for £1 13s, and 2 children would cost 8s 6d each, total cost £2 10s (and they also got subsidised rail travel there).
1/7/1938. £2.64, 97.9p
10/5/1938. Thomas Cook, travel agents, introduced 8 day packages to the French Riviera from Britain for £8 7s 6d.
1937, The average annual salary in the USA for a man was US$ 1,027. For a woman it was US$ 525.
A UK nurse, who would have had accommodation provided by the hospital, was paid £25 per annum as a probationer, rising to maximum £65 as a fully qualified nurse, £80 as a staff nurse, and £125 as a sister. Nurses might work up to 60 hours a week.
A Rome bricklayer earned 150 lira per week.
1/7/1937. £2.61, 95.9p
9/3/1937, George Orwell’s book, The Road to Wigan Pier, was published. It was about the effects of the Depression on northern England.
3/3/1937, Britain had 842 millionaires, and 85,449 people earning over £2,000 a week.
18/11/1936, King Edward VIII visited south Wales, saw several thousand unemployed, and declared ‘something must be done’.
5/10/1936. The Jarrow March, of 200 unemployed ship workers, started from Jarrow, Tyneside, towards London; their petition had 11,000 signatures. The march was led by Labour MP Ellen Wilkinson. Jarrow had an unemployment rate of 67%
27/9/1936. Switzerland, France, and Holland came off the Gold Standard.
1/7/1936. £2.48, 92.5p
5/7/1935. The US Labor Relations Act allowed workers to join unions.
1/7/1935. £2.43, 90.4p
1/7/1934. £2.37, 86.6p
6/4/1934, In the last decade 1,900,000 new houses had been built in Britain. In new estates on the fringes of big cities, semi-detached houses could be bought for £450.
1933, Average annual earnings in the US were; U$ 216 for a hired farm hand, US$ 260 for a sleep-in domestic servant, US$ 907 for a construction worker, US$ 1,227 for a public school teacher, US$ 2,250 for an engineer, US$ 3,111 for a college teacher, US$ 3,383 for a physician, US$ 4,218 for a lawyer and US$ 8,663 for a congressman.
In the US, bacon was 22 cents per lb, bread was 5 cents for a 20 oz. loaf, butter was 28 cents per lb, cheese was 24 cents per lb, chicken was 22 cents per lb, coffee was 26 cents per lb, eggs 29 cents per dozen, ham was 31 cents per lb, leg of lamb was 22 cents per lb, margarine was 13 cents per lb, milk 5 cents a pint, oranges 27 cents a dozen, pork chops were 20 cents per lb, potatoes were 2 cents per lb, rice was 6 cents per lb, rib roast was 22 cents per lb, round steak was 26 cents per lb, sirloin steak was 29 cents per lb and sugar was 6 cents per lb.
23/7/1933. The World Monetary and Economic Conference met in London without reaching any agreement. The British Government abandoned its principle of free trade and encouraged people to ‘buy British’.
1/7/1933. £2.37, 86.4p
1932, The average weekly wage in the US had fallen to US$ 17, from US$ 28 in 1929; breadlines formed in many US cities. See also 1933.
30/9/1932, In Britain, unemployment reached nearly 3 million, 25% of the workforce. The figures did not include agricultural workers, the self-employed and housewives who do not normally sign on when they lose their jobs. In Stockton on Tees the average weekly income for the unemployed was just 20 shillings a week, against 51 shillings 6d for those in work.
1/7/1932. £2.43, 88.4p
25/6/1932, Britain imposed a 25% duty on imports from Germany in retaliation for Germany’s moratorium on loan repayments.
21/5/1932, In the UK, at the nadir of the Depression, 16,911 men were recorded as sleeping in ‘casual wards’ (hostels for the destitute). This compares with 3,188 in May 1920 and 10,217 in December 1929.
4/2/1932, Britain imposed a 10% tariff on all imported goods with concessions for those from the Commonwealth.
30/9/1931. The British Royal Navy mutinied over a 25% pay cut. 12,000 ratings on 15 ships of the Atlantic Fleet at Invergordon were involved. Income tax rose to 5 shillings in the £ (25%).
7/9/1931. In Britain, the King took a pay cut of £50,000 for the duration of the financial crisis.
5/8/1931. A serious run on Sterling began, forcing the return of the King from Balmoral on 11/8/1931.
1/7/1931. £2.48, 89.6p
19/4/1931. Unemployment in the USA reached 7 million.
31/12/1930, US unemployment reached over 4 ½ million.
7/8/1930. In Britain, 2 million were unemployed. The post-War economic recovery of the early 1920s had been halted by the Wall Street Crash of 1929. A collapse on world business confidence had hit investment and British exports. The north of Britain, with its heavy export-oriented coal, steel, shipping industries was badly hit. The south and Midlands, with its car industries geared to supplying domestic demand, fared better,
1/7/1930, £2.66, 93.7p
MILK - A pint of milk cost 1.2p (0.91p),
POTATOES - 1 kg old potatoes cost 0.543p (1.36p).
A second class return rail fare London to Glasgow cost £5.00.
17/6/1930, The USA introduced the Smoot-Hawley tariffs on imports, the highest rates ever imposed. This measure encouraged retaliatory tariffs and reduced world trade, and so exacerbated the Depression.
1929, The average weekly wage in the US was US$28 (see 1932). 75% of US households had an annual income below US$2,500, which was then reckoned as the minimum necessary for a decent standard of living.
21/11/1929. Henry Ford raised workers’ wages in all his car plants.
13/11/1929, The Toronto stock market crashed.
29/10/1929, The Montreal stock market crashed.
28/10/1929, The London stock market crashed.
25/10/1929, Chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr stated that business was good and prospects bright.
24/10/1929. New York stock market crash. See 22/5/1933. The Stock market opened to brisk selling and as the ticker tape was unable to cope with the volume of shares trading (12 million shares were traded that day), prices fell further, and worried investors sold more as prices fell. By 11.30 am. There was total chaos on the market. There were eleven suicides from ruined investors in New York alone. On 28/10/1929 the London Stock Exchange also fell sharply, and New York stocks fell further on 29/10/1929.
23/10/1929, A sudden and unanticipated rush of selling hit the New York stock market.
3/9/1929. The New York Stock Exchange reached a new high of 381.17.
1/7/1929, £2.77, 94.1p
16/2/1929, The New York Stock Exchange posted widespread losses after the Federal Reserve Advisory Council's warning about speculators the previous day.
1/7/1928, £2.80, 94.1p
5/1/1928. The first over 65s in the UK received their State Pensions. The sum was 10 shillings a week.
1/7/1927, £2.82, 95.4p
1/7/1926, £2.90, 97.5p
6/3/1926. Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the US Federal Bank, was born.
5/1/1926. In the UK the Widow's Pension began to be paid at Post Offices.
25/7/1925. The railworkers, transport, and seamens unions supported the mine workers against pay cuts and longer hours. On 31/7/1925 the UK government offered a subsidy to the mine owners to enable them to continue with existing wages. Discussions between the mine owners, mine workers, and a government commission continued until April 1926 (see 30/4/1926).
1/7/1925, £2.95, 95.4p
30/6/1925. The British mining industry faced a crisis. During 1923 and 1924 German coal exports had been halved because of French occupation of the Ruhr following a reparations dispute between France and Germany. Settlement of this, and a return to the Gold Standard by Britain at a rate which effectively raised UK export prices by 10% meant that in the first 6 months of 1925 the UK coal industry made a loss of £2.1 million. On 30/6/1925 the mine workers were given a month’s notice of the cancellation of a pay award made in 1924 and the option of returning to an 8 hour day or further wage cuts ranging from 13% to 38%. Even after the 1924 pay rise, miners’ wages were very low, in real terms lower than they had been in 1914. The Miners Union rejected the pay cut and the longer hours. See 25/7/1925.
7/5/1925, William Lever, Viscount Leverhulme, British entrepreneur and founder of the Lever Brothers corporation, died.
2/3/1925. Austria introduced a new currency, the schilling.
13/7/1924, Alfred Marshall, British economist, died aged 81.
1/7/1924, £2.95, 95.0p
1/7/1923, £2.95, 84.6p
1/11/1922. The first radio licences went on sale in Britain. They cost 10 shillings (50p). They were abolished on 1/2/1971. Some people built their own radios; others bought them from the BBC, costing between £2 and £4, with headphones.
1/7/1922, £3.07, 84.2p
29/5/1922. Minimum postage for letters reduced to 1 ½ d.
1/7/1921, £3.80, £1.08
1/7/1921, Britain passed the Safeguarding of Industries Act. This permitted the use of selective import tariffs to prevent dumping by foreign manufacturers.
1920, UK employment in coal mining reached a peak of 1,250,000. Coal mining employed 40,000 in 1801, 215,000 in 1850, and over 1,000,000 in 1914.
1/7/1920, £4.19, £1.43
1/6/1920. UK postal rates raised from 1 ½ d to 2 d for a letter.
2/1920, The UK basic State pension was £0.50 (£2.82).
9/1/1920. The UK Government announced plans for the construction of 100,000 new houses in 1920.
1919, British Old Age pensions raised from 5 shillings to 10 shillings a week.
1/7/1919, £3.66, 99.6p
24/12/1918, A UK commission on poverty recommended an end to workhouses.
8/7/1918, National Savings Stamps went on sale in Britain.
1/7/1918, £3.45, 80.4p
3/6/1918. British postal charges were raised from 1d to 1 ½ d for a letter and 1d for a postcard.
13/11/1917. In London, bankers and Chambers of Commerce called for the decimalisation of the British currency.
24/7/1917, UK MPs were alarmed to discover the war was costing Britain £7 million per day.
1/7/1917, £3.00, 61.3p
11/1/1917, The war was costing Britain £5.7 million per day.
3/11/1916, London’s bakers were accused of profiteering after raising the price of bread to 10d a loaf. A price freeze was anticipated following a government commission on wheat prices.
28/9/1916, John D Rockefeller became the world’s first billionaire.
1/7/1916, £2.48, 53.7p
19/2/1916, In Britain, National Savings Certificates went on sale.
21/9/1915, Stonehenge was sold at auction for £6,600. A Mr Chubb bought it as a present for his wife.
18/9/1915, The British government revealed that the war was costing £3.5 million daily.
29/8/1915. The UK sent £55,000,000 in gold to pay the USA for munitions.
3/7/1915, The war was costing Britain £3 million daily.
1/7/1915. £2.10, 49.6p
A packet of aspirin cost 3d (1p) and a pair of silk stockings at Harrods was 3s 11d (19.5p). A British train driver got £2 0s 6d (202.5p) a week. A female cotton weaver got 18s 6d (92.5p) a week. The Secretary of the Lunacy Commission got £800 a year.
1914, Britain had fallen behind in key industrial production areas.
29/12/1914, The Daily Mail newspaper cost ½ d.
17/11/1914, Lloyd George announced that Income tax would double in 1915 to pay for the war, then costing Britain £1 million per day.
7/8/1914. Britain issued ten shilling and £1 notes.
1/7/1914. £1.75, 47.9p
BREAD - 800g sliced white bread cost 1p (0.912p).
BUTTER - 250g of butter cost 6p (1.46p).
CHEESE - 250g of cheddar cheese cost 2p (2.06p).
EGGS - 6 eggs cost 3p (1.438p).
MILK - 1 pint of pasteurised milk cost 1p (0.596p).
POTATOES - 1 kg old potatoes cost 1p (0.994p).
SUGAR - 1 kg granulated sugar cost 2p (0.983p).
TEA - 125g of loose tea cost 2p (1.39p).
In 1914 Marks and Spencer took over the London Penny Bazaar Company. Cadburys chocolate bars cost 1d, 22p in 2003. It also cost 1d to post a letter anywhere in the UK, and the Manchester Guardian cost 1d.Thomas Cook, travel agents, could arrange a 15-day Grand Tour through Switzerland for £30 (£1,350 in 2003), and the middle classes could go to the Italian Riviera for two weeks for £14 (£630 in 2003). Tours of the Indian Empire cost 70 guineas (£73 10s, or £3,300 in 2003). In 1914 the General Post Office (GPO) took over the telephone exchange in Portsmouth, leaving Hull as the only area with its own exchange. Doctors at Middlesex Hospital first successfully treated cancer with radium, and Guglielmo Marconi announced he could light a lamp six miles away by means of wireless power. The Ford model T cost £220 (£10,400 in 2003); it was made at Trafford Park, Manchester, and each car took 12 hours to build.
500g of streaky bacon cost 5p. 500g of beef cost 5p. 500g of margarine cost 3p.
4/5/1914, UK taxation rose. Income tax now began at 10 ½ d in the £ on annual income over £1,000.
15/3/1914, In the UK, the price of The Times was halved to one penny.
1/7/1913, £1.71, 43.7p
In the UK, apples cost 3d (1.25p) a pound. A Daisy vacuum cleaner cost £3 13s 6d (£3.68). Clemak safety razors cost 5s (25p). The average price of a semi-detached house in London was £600.
25/2/1913. In the USA, Federal income tax was introduced. By the 16th Amendment the US Government was authorised to raise a tax of between 1% and 6% on incomes of more than US$ 4,000 (US$ 3,000 for bachelors) without having to share this tax revenue between the States of the Union according to their population.
15/1/1913, The first Benefits for sickness (10 shillings, 50p, a week), unemployment (7 shillings, 35p, a week), and maternity benefit (30 shillings, £1.50, a week) were introduced in Britain.
31/7/1912, Milton Friedman, US economist and Nobel Prize winner in 1976, was born in Brooklyn, New York.
15/7/1912. National Insurance, or social payments, devised by Lloyd George, began in Britain.
1/7/1912, £1.70, 43.7p
10/8/1911, In the House of Lords Tory peers abstained, thereby allowing passage of the controversial budget delayed from a year ago. MPs salaries were now £400 a year.
1/7/1911, £1.65, 42.5p
The Shops Act provided for a half-day holiday for shop workers. The TUC began lobbying for holidays with pay. At this time, apart from a few more progressive companies, only senior clerks, administrators, got this privilege.
31/3/1911. UK shop-workers won the fight for a 60-hour week.
3/12/1910. In 1910, in Britain, an Austin car, ‘Ascot’ model, cost £420. It had 15 horsepower, and the hood, windscreen, windshield, and headlights were extra.
1/7/1910, £1.65, 42.9p
1/2/1910. Britain’s first Employment Exchanges were set up. The 80 Exchanges were flooded by people seeking work. 1/1/1910, Britain passed the Labour Exchange Act.
30/11/1909, The House of Lords threw out a Budget by Liberal Chancellor Lloyd George they considered too left-wing. Prime Minister Herbert Asquith now faced a General Election. The controversial Budget proposed taxing the highest 10,000 earners with incomes over £5,000 a year in Britain an extra 6d in the £ income tax, over and above the rate of 1 shilling 2d in the £ paid by all earners above £2,000 a year, a rise from 1 shilling in the £. Unearned income was also to be taxed at 1s 2d in the £. Death duties were to be doubled. The tax money would fund rearmament and old age pensions. The Tories described the Budget as a tax on the propertied classses. On 3/12/1909 King Edward VII dissolved Parliament, and taxes on alcohol, tobacco and cars were suspended as no Budget had been passed. For half a century it had been accepted that the unelected Lords could not veto a money Bill from the elected Commons, but the Tories argued this Bill had too many non-financial measures to come under this rule.
1/7/1909, £1.62, 42.5p
29/4/1909. A radical budget presented by the Liberal government of Britain, under David Lloyd-George, chancellor of the Exchequer, angered the Tories. It contained provisions for a new ‘supertax’ of 6d in the pound on the 10,000 people in Britain with incomes of over £5,000 a year, to pay for old age pensions and re-armament. The standard rate of income tax remained at 9d in the pound for income up to £2,000 and one shilling per pound for income above that. Luxury taxes on alcohol, tobacco, and petrol also rose. The idea was to shift taxation from the workers as producers of wealth t0 its possessors, the wealthy bosses.
17/2/1909. A Royal Commission on Britain’s Poor Laws said no more children should live in workhouses. In urban areas, up to a third of older people also died in Poor Law institutions, which included children’s homes, infirmaries and lunatic asylums as well as workhouses. The Old Age Pension, which started on 1/1/1909, should ease the financial destitution of poorer older people.
1/1/1909. In Britain, men and women over 70 began to draw Old Age Pensions. The rate was 5 shillings (25p) a week. (£1.09)
21/10/1908. The Prime Minister of Britain, Herbert Asquith, announced emergency measures to deal with unemployment. The jobless were to be recruited into the Post Office, the dockyards, and the Army Special Reserve.
24/9/1908, Persons over 70 in Britain began applying for pensions.
12/8/1908, The Model T Ford began rolling off the production line. Priced at US$ 825, the cost was kept low by mass production using standardised parts. Instead of one man assembling an entire car, each worker preformed just one task as the car moved along a conveyor belt. By this production line method, the time to assemble a car was cut from 14 hours to 2. To motivate his workforce, Henry Ford raised wages from US$ 2.34 for a 9 hour day to US$ 5 for an 8 hour day. Productivity improvements meant Ford could reduce the car’s price to US$ 300. Over 15 million Model Ts were built and by the time production ceased in 1927 half the cars in the US were Fords. See also road transport.
1908, Australia introduced pensions for the elderly and invalids.
10/7/1908, Britain passed the Invalid and Old Age Pensions Act, giving non-contributory pensions for those over 70.
1/7/1908, £1.61, 42.5p
7/5/1908. Old Age Pensions were introduced in Britain, at 5 shillings (25p) a week, by Prime Minister Asquith, for people over 70. A married couple would get 7 shillings 6d. Only those earning under ten shillings a week were eligible. See 1/1/1909. At this time, renting a single room cost 2s 6d a week, a half cwt (25kg) of coal cost 6d, 4 loaves of bread cost 6d, a quarter lb (110g) of tea cost 6d, a quart of milk cost 3d, a half lb of sugar cost 1d, 7lbs of potatoes cost 3d, 1lb of cheese cost 2d, and a half lb of meat cost 3d. Total cost, 5 shillings.
1/7/1907, £1.60, 42.5p
1/7/1906, £1.57, 42.1p
A loaf of bread cost 5d (2p). A pound of beef cost 8d (3p). The average weekly wage was 19 shillings (95p).
14/3/1906. The British Parliament accepted the principle of old age pensions.
12/11/1905, In the UK, Queen Alexandra launched an appeal for the unemployed.
8/9/1905, In Britain, 1,997,000 people now belonged to Trades Unions.
1/7/1905, £1.57, 42.1p
In New York, a male teacher’s starting salary was US$900. For a female teacher starting salary was US$600.
11/1/1905, The price of a third class transatlantic liner ticket was £6.
29/11/1904, A large increase in unemployment in Britain. Over 520,000 people in England and Wales were on Poor Relief, more than at any time since 1888, and a further 250,000 were reduced to living in workhouses, an 11% increase on 1903. Low wages meant a third of the population at or below the poverty line. Half the population of Scotland and a sixth of Londoners lived more than two people to a room.
1/7/1904, £1.56, 42.1p
22/4/1904. Britain passed a Bill legalising peaceful picketing during strikes.
16/3/1904, The first books of stamps were issued by the GPO in Britain. They contained 24 one-penny stamps.
17/9/1903, In the UK, Joseph Chamberlain resigned over tariff reform. Chamberlain wanted preferential tariffs for Empire countries to maintain the unity of the British Empire. However the Duke of Devonshire, C T Ritchie, Lord Balfour of Burleigh and Lord George Hamilton preferred global free trade.
8/9/1903. The TUC in Britain opposed the Government’s tariff policy favouring Empire imports.
1/7/1903, £1.57, 42.1p. Income tax in the UK started on earnings over £160 per annum.
21/5/1903. Joseph Chamberlain, the colonial secretary, founded the Tariff League to promote a preferential trading system within the British Empire.
30/8/1902, Labour MP Kier Hardie protested at the Taff Vale court decision.
5/7/1902, Edward VII paid for 450,000 impoverished Britons to celebrate his coronation with a free dinner.
1/7/1902, £1.55, 41.6p
14/5/1902, Following a severe financial crisis in Portugal, a law was passed reducing the value of bonds and dividends of bond holders.
14/1/1902, In Britain, over 300 Trades Unions supported universal state pensions.
4/9/1901. In the Taff Vale Railway case, the House of Lords ruled that Trades Unions were liable for financial losses of companies affected by industrial action. As a result of this case the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants must pay the Taff Vale Railway Company £32,000 in costs and damages. This decision confirmed the ruling of High Court Judge Mr Justice Fairwell, later overturned in the Court of Appeal. A future Labour Government was to reverse this ruling.
12/8/1901, The British Government was defeated in an effort to limit working hours.
1/7/1901, £1.55, 41.6p. According to Booth, lower-class accommodation in York could be rented for 1s 7d (8p) a week for one room and 2s 6d (12.5p) a week for two rooms. Unskilled labourers in the York factories and railway works earned between 18s (90p) and 21s (£1.05) a week.
1/5/1901, In Britain, miners threatened to strike unless there was a cut in the coal export tax.
31/8/1900. The Taff Vale railway strike, south Wales, ended.
1/7/1900, £1.55, 41.2p
MILK - A pint of milk cost 0.7p (0.53p),
POTATOES - 1 kg old potatoes cost 0.543p (0.793p).
A second class return rail fare London to Glasgow cost £1.66.
USA – sugar was 4 cents per lb, eggs were 14 cents per dozen, and butter cost 25 cents per lb. A male stenographer earned 10$ per week, an unskilled female clerical assistant earned 2.50$ per week.
1/7/1899, £1.50, 40.4p
1/11/1898, New Zealand passed the Old Age Pensions Act. Pensions were paid from March 1899, backdated to January 1899, to men over 65 and women over 60.
1/7/1898, £1.51, 39.2p
1/7/1897, £1.49, 38.3p
1896, Barclays Bank was founded.
1/7/1896, £1.45, 37.9p
1/7/1895, £1.46, 37.9p
The pay for a junior civil servant in Britain, aged 17-20, ranged from £70 to £250 per annum, with a possible £100 bonus for efficiency available. . In England, a domestic servant was paid £18.80 annually, and received board and lodging worth ca, £12.50 annually with the job. A female Lancashire cotton worker received £37.10 annually (no board and lodging provided).
20/5/1895. The US Supreme court ruled that income tax, introduced in 1894, was unconstitutional.
1894, Under the influence of a flood of wheat exported from the USA, as railways enabled the vast expansion of prairie agriculture there, wheat prices in the unprotected UK market fell from 56s 9d (£2.84) a quarter in 1877, to 46s 5d (£2.23) a quarter in 1878, to 31s (£1.55) in 1886, to 29s 9d (£1.49) in 1893, and to 22s 10d (£1.14) in 1984. Many British farmers were ruined, and as tenant farmers became unable to pay the rent, rural landlords suffered too., The acreage of wheat cultivation in the UK fell by half. NB A quarter was a quarter of a hundredweight, i.e a quarter of 112 lbs, or 28 lbs, or just under 13 kg.
27/8/1894. In the USA, the Wilson-Gorman Tariff Act made income tax a law.
2/8/1894. Death Duties were introduced in Britain by the Liberal Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir William Harcourt. With tax rates of 8% on estates valued at over £1 million, the end of the great landed estates of Britain was inevitable.
1/7/1894, £1.48, 37.5p
1/7/1893, £1.52, 36.6p
1/7/1892, £1.55, 36.3p
1/7/1891, £1.54, 35.0p. According to Booth (1891), London bus drivers were paid 7s 6d (37.5p) a day; bus conductors got 5s 6d (27.5p) a day. Some worked a 7-day week, up to 15 hours a day, to boost earnings to 52s 6d a week. Bus inspectors were paid on a weekly basis, 35s (£1.75) a week. Junior house servants got around £5 6s (£5.30) a year, rising to £17 14s (£17.70) for more senior servants aged over 30; accommodation included.
1/1/1891, In Germany, Bismark’s pension scheme came into operation. Pension age was 70. The rate was graduated with income, the lowest being 7 pfennigs a week for those earning under 300 marks a year (£15).
1890, UK employment as ‘domestic servant’ peaked at over 2 million. In 1851 the UK had 1.2 million domestic servants, and as late as 1951 the UK still had 1.5 million domestic servants, 1.3 million of them women.
1/7/1890, £1.53, 34.2p
19/8/1889. In London, a strike by 30,000 dock workers began. The strike ended on 14/9/1889 with victory for the dockers. They had won their claim for a pay rise from 5d to 6d an hour – the dockers’ tanner, also 8d an hour for overtime. The strike had major public support, over £50,000 being contributed to the strike fund, whilst dock owners found blackleg labour hard to come by. Even The City supported the strike, being opposed to casualisation of labour which was seen as penalising men who wanted to do an honest day’s work.
1/7/1889, £1.53, 33.7p
22/6/1889. Bismarck’s government passed a bill for the welfare payment of old age pensions and sickness insurance.
1/7/1888, £1.51, 33.7p
1/7/1887, £1.51, 33.7p
1/7/1886, £1.55, 33.7p
8/2/1886, Unemployed people protested in London’s Trafalgar Square; there was looting and rioting in Pall Mall and Oxford Street.
1/7/1885, £1.56, 33.7p
1/7/1884, £1.62, 33.4p
27/9/1883, The UK Bank rate was reduced to 3%
13/9/1883, The UK Bank Rate was reduced to 3.5%.
1/7/1883, £1.67, 33.4p
5/6/1883, Lord Keynes, economist, was born.
10/5/1883, The UK Bank rate was raised to 4%.
26/3/1883. Mrs Alva Vanderbilt threw the world’s most expensive party, spending US$75,000 on food and entertainments at a costume ball.
1/3/1883, The UK Bank Base Rate was further reduced from 3.5% to 3%.
15/2/1883, In the UK, the Bank Base Rate was reduced from 4% to 3.5%.
25/1/1883, In the UK, the Bank Base Rate was 4%.
1/7/1882, £1.67, 33.4p
1/7/1881, £1.67, 33.4p
2/1/1881, The Rockefeller Brothers signed an agreement that gave them control over the entire US oil industry.
1/1/1881, First use of Postal Orders in Britain.
1/7/1880, £1.69, 33.7p
1/7/1879, £1.65, 35.4p
5/3/1879, Lord Beveridge, political economist, was born.
1878, The Duke of Bedford, with an annual income of £300,000, was the richest man in Britain.
2/10/1878, The City of Glasgow Bank crashed, with net debts of £6,213,313, 17s. By comparison a cook in a Scottish country mansion might earn £14 a year, a cheap (steerage) passage on a liner from Glasgow to New York cost £6 6s, and a bottle of vintage champagne cost 5s. The crash wiped out over 10% of Scotland’s banking capital.
1/7/1878, £1.73, 35.4p
26/7/1877. In the USA, 19 people were killed when police and cavalry charged striking railwaymen. There was a national strike by railway workers, angered by a 10% wage cut. They protested that a brakeman earned only US$1.75 for a 12 hour day and that this was the second wage cut in four years. Others were concerned about the import of ‘Communistic’ ideas from abroad.
1/7/1877, £1.79, 35.0p
1/7/1876, £1.79, 33.6p
1/7/1875, £1.79, 32.5p
30/8/1874. In Britain, the Factory Act limited the working week to 56.5 hours.
1/7/1874, £1.81, 31.7p
1873, A Grand Cooks Tour of Europe, 6 weeks, taking in the Rhine, Switzerland and France, cost £85 for two people. This was some 3 to 4 months wages for a senior London clerk, and was a once-in-a- lifetime holiday for him and his wife.
1/7/1873, £1.90, 30.8p
1872, In Britain the National Agricultural Labourers Union (NALU) was formed. At its peak it had 150,000 members. Initially the NALU succeeded in raising wages and cutting working hours but the landowners fought back and locked out the workers in 1874. The labourers believed they would be necessary during the harvest of 1874; however the landowners utilised machinery, unskilled labour, and women and children to gather the harvest, and locked out workers faced losing their tied cottages. The labourers lost their special harvest payment, ‘harvest money’, which they would customarily use to buy replacement boots and clothing. The NALU suffered from poor leadership, and by 18981 had just 15,000 members, mainly in Norfolk. Ultimately, the agricultural workforce was shrinking as farm mechanisation proceeded and workers left the fields for industrial work in the towns and cities.
1/7/1872, £1.88, 29.2p
1871, The Bank Holiday Act secured bank clerk’s right to days off on the Bank Holidays of Christmas, Easter and Whit Monday, also a secular holiday on the first Monday of August.
4/12/1871. Germany adopted the mark as its currency unit.
1/7/1871, £1.81, 28.8p
29/6/1871. In Britain, the Trades Union Act granted legal status to unions.
27/6/1871. Japan adopted the yen as a new currency.
1/10/1870. The first British halfpenny stamp was introduced, for pre-paid postcards.
1/7/1870, £1.76, 27.9p
1/7/1869, £1.83, 27.9p
1/7/1868, £1.87, 26.7p
2/6/1868, The first Trades Union Congress was held in Manchester. It lasted until 6/6/1868.
1867, A four-day holiday in Paris, including accommodation and travel to/from London, cost 36 shillings (£1.80).
1/7/1867, £1.90, 26.3p
1/7/1866, £1.82, 25.0p
1/7/1865, £1.76, 24.1p
1/7/1864, £1.71, 23.8p
1/7/1863, £1.71, 23.8p
1862, The Cotton Famine hit Lancashire. The Confederates wanted to bring economic pressure on Britain to come on their side in the American Civil War. To achieve this they instituted an embargo on cotton exports; over 80% of Britain’s cotton imports came from the American South, through the port of Liverpool. UK cotton imports slumped from 2.6 million bales in 1860 to under 72,000 in 1862. The cotton price rose from 6 ¼ pence a pound to 27 ¼ pence. In 1860 some 300,000 UK workers were employed in the cotton industry; a typical mill had around 400 workers. By 1862 half these workers had been laid off, and 25% of the population of Lancashire were on Poor Relief. However by 1863 the Lancashire mills had found new sources of cotton, from China, Egypt and India. The Confederates, far from profiting from a raised cotton price, now faced bankruptcy and defeat.
1/7/1862, £1.80, 23.8p
1861, The concentration of land ownership in England had risen markedly. In 1688, out of a population of 5.5 million, 170,000 were landowners. In 1861, out of a population of over 20 million, just 30,766 were landowners.
5/8/1861. Abraham Lincoln made the first nationwide income tax law, to fund the fighting in the Civil War.
1/7/1861, £1.80, 23.8p
17/5/1861. A group of holidaymakers set off from London Bridge railway station on the first package trip organised by Thomas Cook. The trip was a 6-day holiday to Paris, costing 46 shillings including all meals and other costs.
1860, The wages for textiles workers in Bradford, Yorkshire, were as follows (daily rates, for a ten-hour day): Men, warehousemen and wool-sorters, 2s 4d (11.5p) to 4s 6d (22.5p). More skilled male workers such as engine-tenters and overlockers, could earn up to 6s (30p) per day. Women (reelers, drawers, weavers) got 1s (5p) to 2s 4d (11.5P) per day. Boys and girls under 13 got 3d (1.25p) to 6d (2.5p) per day.
1/7/1860, £1.79, 23.3p
1/7/1859, £1.68, 23.8p
13/2/1859, Sir Edward Walter founded the Corps of Commissionaires for the employment of ex-soldiers.
1/7/1858, £1.67, 22.5p
1/7/1857, £1.76, 22.0p
1/7/1856, £1.80, 22.5p
1/7/1855, £1.80, 22.5p
A labourer’s wage was 3s 9d a week. More skilled workers such as bricklayers, carpenters, and masons earned 6s 8d a week, and engineers got 7s 6d a week. BREAD - 2lb (0.9 kg) bread cost 4d, or 1.7p (p), as did 2 to 4 pints of beer (depending on quality).
1/7/1854, £1.79, 22.5p
1/7/1853, £1.66, 21.3p
12/9/1852, Herbert Henry Asquith, British Liberal and Prime Minister, was born in Morley, Yorkshire. He introduced the Old Age Pension.
1/7/1852, £1.55, 20.4p
1/7/1851, £1.54, 20.4p
1/7/1850, £1.58, 20.4p
1/7/1849, £1.63, 20.8p
1/7/1848 £1.68, 20.8p
10/4/1848, A further Chartist petition was rejected (see 28/2/1837).
27/2/1848. France created national workshops to relieve unemployment.
24/1/1848. Gold was discovered at Sutlers Mill in California, by James Marshall. This started the Gold Rush. In 1841 a prospector, Francisco Lopez, found gold traces in the roots of a freshly dug onion. Farmers, clerks, even church ministers, headed west, although some suspected that the US government fostered the Gold Rush to encourage population growth in the former Mexican territory. A major gold find was made by prospector J A Shutter, and by 1849 over 80,000 people had flooded into the area; in 1840 California had just 14,000 inhabitants. US Congress agreed to the issue of a US$20 ‘double eagle’. Many gambling houses sprang up in the area, along with bars and brothels. San Francisco grew from a small village to a town of 25,000 within a few months. Food prices rocketed; apples were $5 each, eggs $10 a dozen, and a small whisky sold for a pinch of gold dust. See also USA.
1/7/1847, £1.84, 21.3p
The first adhesive stamps went on sale in the USA; the 5-cent Benjamin Franklin and the 10-cent George Washington.
1/7/1846, £1.74, 20.8p
1/7/1845, £1.70, 20.4p
1/7/1844, £1.68, 20.0p
3/11/1843, The 17-foot, 16 ton, statue of Lord Nelson was hauled in two pieces to the top of the column in Trafalgar Square. The second piece was hauled up on 4/11/1843. The column was 184 foot high, and the statue a further 17 feet. The cost was £50,000, half met by Parliament, the other half raised by public subscription.
1/7/1843, £1.71, 21.3p
1/7/1842, £1.79, 21.3p
12/4 – 12/5/1842, The second convention of Chartists: their second petition was rejected by Parliament on 3/5/1842.
15/2/1842. The first adhesive postage stamp was used in the USA by City Dispatch Post, a private company later acquired by the US Government for US$ 1,200.
1841, Under Peel, income tax was introduced in Britain, Incomes above £150 a year were taxed at 7d per pound. The rate fell to 2d per pound in 1875, but rose as high as 10 shillings per pound during World War Two. Ordinary worker’s wages ranged from 5 shillings to £2 per week. At the lower end of the scale, 5 shillings would buy 7 four-pound loaves, just enough to (barely) feed a family of two adults and three children – but leaving no surplus for rent, clothes, tea, or ‘luxuries’ such a slice of bacon. A semi-skilled worker, on 15 shillings a week, would typically spend; 5 4 lb loaves 3s 6.5d, 5 lbs meat 2s 1d, 7 pints porter (strong ale) 1s 2d, coal 9.5d, 40 lbs potatoes 1s 4d, 3 oz tea and 1 lb sugar 9d, 0.5 lb soap and 0.5 lb candles 6.5d, rent 2s 6d, schooling 4d, leaving 5.5d for other spending, total 15s 0d.
1/7/1841, £1.85, 20.8p
1/7/1840, £1.86, 19.6p
6/5/1840, The first adhesive postage stamps were used in the UK. These were the Penny Black and the Two penny Blue. The first Penny Black stamp from the first sheet was stuck on a letter to George Waterman of Thame, Oxfordshire.
10/1/1840. Penny Postage began, introduced by Sir Rowland Hill. In London, 112,000 letters were posted on the first day. The Penny Postage Act was passed on 17/8/1839. Before this day the recipient of the post paid for it. See also 15/2/1842. Also on 10/1/1840 the first correspondence course was offered, by Isaac Pitman, teaching shorthand.
4/11/1839, A Chartist riot at Newport, south Wales. The crowd was fired on by constables and 20 people were killed. John Frost, the Chartist leader, was sentenced to transportation.
6/8/1839, The General Strike (see 12/7/1839) was called off.
15/7/1839, There had been 7 days of rioting around the Bull Ring, Birmingham, following rejection of the demands of the Chartist Movement (see 28/2/1837).
12/7/1839, Parliament declined to consider the Chartist demands. The General Convention of the Working Classes, established in London in February 1939, called for a General Strike.
9/7/1839, William Lovett, Chartist leader, was arrested.
1/7/1839, £1.91, 20.4p
14/6/1839. The Chartists presented a further petition to Parliament (see 28/2/1837).
1/7/1838, £1.87, 20.0p
8/5/1838, The Chartists published their People’s Charter (see 28/2/1837).
1/7/1837, £1.85, 20.4p
28/2/1837, The London Working Men’s Association presented a petition to the UK Parliament. They wanted universal adult male suffrage, reform of voting districts to make them equal size (i.e. to get rid of ‘rotten boroughs), voting by secret ballot, annual parliaments, abolition of property qualifications for MPs, and MPs to be paid a salary.
1836, The Birmingham and Midland Bank (later Midland, then HSBC) was founded.
1/7/1836, £1.79, 20.0p
1/7/1835, £1.71, 19.6p. In England, a domestic servant was paid £9.50 annually, and received board and lodging worth ca, £12.50 annually with the job. A female Lancashire cotton worker received £20.80 annually (no board and lodging provided); skilled male cotton workers received 20s – 25s a week. A farm worker received 8s – 10s a week. A skilled artisan in London received 25s – 40s a week. Farm worker wages were higher in rural areas adjoining the industrial regions of the North, such as Cheshire, where emigration to the cities meant farm labour was scarcer and urban demand for food was greater; in rural areas far from industry, such as Devon and Cornwall, farm labourer wages were lower.
1834, Click here for weekly menu for inmates of Stafford Union Workhouse, UK. Source, p.52, Poverty & Public Health 1815-1948, Heinemann, Essex, UK, 2001. See also food chronology.
8/8/1834. The Poor Law Amendment Act was passed, abandoning the system of outdoor relief by which parishes looked after their poor and replacing it with the workhouse. The Elizabethan Poor Law, the so-called Old Poor Law, made each parish responsible for supporting its infirm elderly and disabled poor, and to ensure that all able-bodied people were working. The ‘impotent poor’ had a right to poverty relief from the parish they were born in; the able-bodied unemployed had to enter Houses of Correction (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_correction ) where they were given supervised work at an appropriate rate of pay. Effectively the able-bodied person’s attitude had to be ‘corrected’. However these Houses of Correction, also used for petty criminals and vagrants, had by 1830 become places of detention for the elderly; the able-bodied, sometimes temporarily laid off because of a poor harvest, were receiving ‘outdoor relief’. By the 1780s Britain’s Agricultural Revolution had resulted in widespread involuntary employment as fields were enclosed and agriculture restructured. At Speenhamland, Berkshire, a scale of outdoor support was laid down, based on the minimum cost of living such as the price of bread. However this system enabled employers to pay lower wages and this system became burdensome (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speenhamland_system ).
The so-called New Poor Law introduced in 1834 ( see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poor_Law_Amendment_Act_1834 ) meant that people requiring financial help would no longer get wage supplements paid according to family size, or ‘outdoor relief’ which was costing the country £8 million a year. Instead they would have to live in workhouses, where husbands will be separated from wives, children from parents. Silence was enforced at mealtimes. They were to be ‘uninviting places of wholesome restraint’ according to a report of the time. Tasks for the residents included stone breaking, bone grinding, and hand grinding of corn. The ‘principle of less eligibility’ was set up, meaning that nothing must make the pauper better off than the poorest independent labourer. This might have been justified in the case of able-bodied applicants but was cruel to the sick and elderly claimants. In practice some outdoor relief continued for the able-bodied poor, because the workhouse, which separated husbands wives and children, was seen as too harsh. The workhouse system also discriminated against the retired working poor, who had been unable to set aside enough provision for their inform years when working on low wages; the retired middle class were able to save and had pensions, for an independent old age.
1/7/1834, £1.75, 19.2p
19/3/1834. The six Tolpuddle Martyrs who fought the decline of agricultural wages were sentenced at Dorchester, Dorset, to seven year’s transportation to Tasmania. This was for setting up a trade union, a branch of the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers. Public outcry at this heavy sentence had them released after two years.
1833, In the UK, the Factory Act stipulated that Good Friday and Christmas Day were mandatory holidays. Most workers received very few holidays; in 1834 even the Bank of England only closed for four working days in the year. The 1871 Bank Holiday Act extended holiday entitlements.
1/7/1833, £1.78, 19.6p
1/7/1832, £1.81, 19.6p
7/4/1832. A Carlisle farmer, Mr Joseph Thompson, put his wife up for sale. The initial price was 50 shillings but after an hour with no takers, he reduced the price to 20 shillings and threw in his Newfoundland dog, too. Wife-selling was then illegal in England but had been a common practice in the 18th century, as an alternative to divorce. The practice was socially disapproved of by 1832.
1831, Wages for hand loom weavers stood at 6 shillings a week, down from a peak of 23 shillings a week in 1805. This was because it was an easy trade to learn; 3 weeks to learn plain weaving. In an effort to raise earnings, hand loom weavers raised their output, which simply pushed piece rates down further. Mill owners kept a steady output going from power looms, and hired and fired casual hand loom weaver labour as and when required.
1/7/1831, £1.85, 19.6p
1/7/1830, £1.88, 19.6p
1/7/1829, £1.91, 19.6p
1/7/1828, £1.97, 19.6p
10/1/1828, The Bank of England issued a one-penny banknote.
1/7/1827, £1.95, 19.6p
18/10/1826. The last State Lottery was held in England.
1/7/1826, £2.00, 19.6p
1/7/1825, £2.05, 19.6p
1/7/1824, £1.91, 18.3p
6/6/1824. A law was passed in Britain recognising the right to strike. The Combination Acts of 1799 and 1800 were repealed.
11/9/1823, The economist David Ricardo died.
1/7/1823, £1.86, 18.3p
1/7/1822, £1.85, 17.9p
BREAD - A loaf of bread, 800g cost (in London) 1.9 p (0.96p).
1/7/1821, £1.98, 19.2p
1/7/1820, £2.10, 20.0p
1/7/1819, £2.12, 20.0p
8/2/1819 Rioting and looting followed a protest march by the unemployed in Trafalgar Square.
1/7/1818, £2.30, 20.0p
5/7/1817. The first gold sovereigns were issued in Britain.
1/7/1817, £2.30, 20.0p
1/7/1816, £2.20, 20.4p
1/7/1815, £2.27, 21.3p
1/7/1814, £2.40, 21.3p
1/7/1813, £2.58, 21.6p
1/7/1812, £2.53, 20.8p
BREAD - A loaf of bread, 800g cost (in London) 2.8 p (1.32p).
1/7/1811, £2.33, 20.0p
10/5/1811. Britain was in financial crisis and was forced to adopt paper money.
1/7/1810, £2.37, 19.2p
1/7/1809, £2.32, 18.8p
1/7/1808, £2.16, 18.3p
1/7/1807, £2.12, 18.0p
In the UK, the 1807 price of cotton yarn stood at 6s 9d (34p) per lb; down from 38s (£1.90) per lb in 1786. This was largely due to the replacement of home cotton spinning by mill machinery.
1/7/1806, £2.08, 17.5p
1/7/1805, £2.08, 17.5p
1/7/1804, £1.91, 16.7p
1/7/1803, £1.84, 15.8p
1/7/1802, £1.88, 15.4p
BREAD - A loaf of bread, 800g cost (in London) 2.2 p (0.98p).
1/7/1801, £2.21, 14.6p
1/7/1800, £2.08, 14.2p
5/4/1800, The end of the tax year was moved back a day from 4 April. Originally ending on 25 March, the old Roman New Year, it had been moved forward 11 days to 4 April when Britain moved from the Julian to the Gregorian Calendar (see 3/9/1752). However under the new Gregorian Calendar 1800 was not a leap year whereas under the Julian Calendar it would have been. People demanded an extra day to pay their taxes. Nobody demanded the extra day in 1900.
12/7/1799. Britain passed the Combination Acts, outlawing any association of two or more people for the purpose of obtaining wage increases or better conditions at work. The Act was prompted by fears of revolution after France. However in 1802 Parliament banned child apprentices from working more than a 12 hour day. Many pauper children from London were being sent to textile factories in the north of England to work long hours. Sir Robert Peel, the Bill’s proposer, objected that this practice allowed exploitation of children, far from their parents.
9/1/1799. Income tax introduced to Britain for the first time, by Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger, at 2 shillings in the pound for incomes over £200 per annum, and a reduced rate for incomes between £60 and £200. The tax was to pay for the Napoleonic War. In Florence in 1451 an income tax, the Catastrato, had been implemented but degenerated into a means of political blackmail and was repealed upon the overthrow of the Medicis in 1492. The income tax in Britain was repealed in 1802 after the Peace of Amiens, but reimposed in 1803, repealed in 1816, and reintroduced in 1842 in peacetime at 7d in the £. Since then the rate in the UK has varied between 2d in the £ in 1875 and 10s in the £ in 1941.
1/7/1799, £1.71, 13.8p
4/12/1798. Income tax was proposed to the UK Parliament by William Pitt the Younger.
1/7/1798, £1.60, 13.8p
26/5/1798, Income Tax first announced in Britain.
1/7/1797, £1.63, 13.3p
26/2/1797. The Bank of England first issued £1 notes; copper pennies were also first minted this day.
1/7/1796, £1.71, 13.0p
1795, The old French currency, the Livre, was replaced by the Franc, at 80 Francs to 81 Livres. The old livre was sub divided into 20 sous, each of which was 12 deniers (like the old UK shillings/pence currency).
1/7/1795, £1.63, 12.5p
1/7/1794, £1.47, 12.5p
1/7/1793, £1.43, 12.5p
15/4/1793. The Bank of England first issued £5 notes.
1792, In Britain a new 40-spindle Spinning Jenny cost £6. The wages of hand-spinners were 2 – 3 shillings a week, so the machine cost a little less than 2 week’s wages of the 40 spinners it replaced.
1/10/1792, Money Orders came into use in Britain.
1/7/1792, £1.38, 12.5p
BREAD - A loaf of bread, 800g cost (in London) 1.2 p (0.72p).
1/7/1791, £1.40, 12.5p
17/7/1790, The economist Adam Smith, who wrote The Wealth of Nations, died in Edinburgh aged 67.
1/7/1790, £1.41, 11.7p
1/7/1789, £1.37, 10.8p
1/7/1788, £1.33, 10.8p
1/7/1787, £1.33, 10.8p
1786, The US adopted coinage based in the old Spanish Dollar. This coin was often cut into 8 pieces (pieces of eight), and two such pieces, a quarter was a popular unit of transaction. The term ‘quarter’, 25 cents, is still used in the US today.
1/7/1786, £1.30, 10.4p
1/7/1785, £1.33, 10.4p
13/12/1784. Samuel Johnson, born 18/9/1709, died. Aged 75, he had lived in near-poverty for many years but from 1762 was granted a Crown Pension of £3,000 a year. He is best remembered for his comprehensive dictionary, which took him eight years to complete.
1/7/1784, £1.38, 10.8p
1/7/1783, £1.40, 10.8p
1/7/1782, £1.37, 10.8p
BREAD - A loaf of bread, 800g cost (in London) 1.25p (0.71p).
1/7/1781, £1.35, 10.8p
1/7/1780, £1.27, 10.4p
1/7/1779, £1.25, 10.0p
1/7/1778, £1.32, 10.0p
1/7/1777, £1.30, 10.0p
1/7/1776, £1.25, 10.4p
1/7/1775, £1.32, 10.0p
1/7/1774 £1.34, 9.6p
1/7/1773, £1.32, 9.6p
1/7/1772, £1.32, 10.0p
BREAD - A loaf of bread, 800g cost (in London) 1.3p (0.69p).
19/4/1772, The economist David Ricardo was born.
1/7/1771, £1.28, 9.6p
1/7/1770, £1.21, 9.6p
1/7/1769, £1.21, 9.2p
1/7/1768, £1.27, 9.2p
1/7/1767, £1.30, 9.6p
1/7/1766, £1.21, 9.2p
17/2/1766, The economist Thomas Malthus was born.
1/7/1765, £1.23, 9.2p
1/7/1764, £1.19, 8.8p
1/7/1763, £1.15, 8.8p
1/7/1762, £1.13, 8.8p
BREAD - A loaf of bread, 800g cost (in London) 0.9p (0.58p).
1/7/1761, £1.14, 9.2p
1/7/1760, £1.11, 9.2p
1/7/1759, £1.10, 8.8p
1/7/1758, £1.14, 8.8p
1/7/1757, £1.25, 8.8p
1/7/1756, £1.13, 8.3p
1/7/1755, £1.13, 8.8p
1/7/1754, £1.11, 8.8p
1/7/1753, £1.10, 8.8p
4/4/1753. The date of the end of the tax year, which had been Lady Day, 25 March, was altered to this date. This was due to the 11 days cropped from the year 1752 as the calendar was altered to the Gregorian Calendar. See 3/9/1752 and 5/4/1800.
1/7/1752, £1.13, 8.8p
1/7/1751, £1.07, 8.3p
1/7/1750, £1.07, 8.3p
1/7/1749, £1.06, 8.8p
1/7/1748, £1.08, 8.8p
1/7/1747, £1.05, 8.8p
1/7/1746, £1.08, 8.8p
1/7/1745, £1.02, 8.3p
1/7/1744, 98.8p, 8.8p
1/7/1743, £1.01, 8.8p
1/7/1742, £1.08, 8.8p
1/7/1741, £1.18, 8.3p
1/7/1740, £1.16, 7.9p
1/7/1739, £1.05, 8.3p
1/7/1738, £1.02, 8.3p
1/7/1737, £1.05, 8.3p
1/7/1736, £1.08, 8.8p
1/7/1735, £1.07, 8.3p
1/7/1734, £1.04, 8.3p
1/7/1733, £1.01, 8.8p
1/7/1732, 97.9p, 8.3p
1/7/1731, £1.02, 8.3p
1/7/1730, £1.10, 8.3p
1/7/1729, £1.19, 7.9p
21/3/1729, John Law, financier, died.
1/7/1728, £1.25, 7.9p
1/7/1727, £1.13, 7.9p
1/7/1726, £1.16, 7.9p
1/7/1725, £1.13, 7.5p
1/7/1724, £1.13, 7.9p
1/7/1723, £1.08, 8.3p
5/6/1723, The economist and philosopher Adam Smith was born at Kirkcaldy. He was the son of a customs officer.
25/12/1722, After this date, under Britain’s Calico Act 1721, it became illegal for anyone to use or wear calico, an Indian-made fabric, in Great Britain. This removed a source of competition for UK textile producers.
1/7/1722, £1.07, 7.5p
1/7/1721, £1.09, 7.9p
1/7/1720, £1.13, 7.9p
1/7/1719, £1.05, 7.9p
1/7/1718, £1.08, 7.9p
1/7/1717, £1.11, 7.9p
1/7/1716, £1.13, 7.9p
1/7/1715, £1.08, 7.9p
1/7/1714, £1.16, 7.9p
1/7/1713, £1.13, 7.5p
1/7/1712, £1.13, 7.5p
1/7/1711, £1.20, 7.5p
1/7/1710, £1.24, 7.9p
1/7/1709, £1.24, 7.9p
1/7/1708, £1.05, 7.9p
1/7/1707, £1.00, 7.9p
1/7/1706, £1.00, 7.9p
1/7/1705, £1.01, 7.5p
1/7/1704, £1.06, 7.5p
1/7/1703, 99.6p, 7.9p
1/7/1702, £1.03, 7.9p
1/7/1701, £1.04, 7.5p
1/7/1700, £1.12, 7.5p
1/7/1699, £1.20, 7.5p
1/7/1698, £1.24, 7.5p
1/7/1697, £1.23, 7.5p
1/7/1696, £1.21, 7.5p
31/12/1695. A window tax was imposed in Britain, resulting in many being blocked up.
1/7/1695, £1.11, 7.5p
1/7/1694, £1.16, 7.9p
1/7/1693, £1.17, 7.5p
1/7/1692, £1.08, 7.5p
1/7/1691, 95.4p, 7.5p
1/7/1690, 96.7p, 7.5p
1/7/1689, 92.9p, 7.9p
1/7/1688, 93.7p, 7.5p
1/7/1687, 97.5p, 7.1p
1/7/1686, 99.2p, 8.3p
1/7/1685, £1.10, 7.5p
1684, Tea in continental Europe sold for the equivalent of 1 shilling per pound. However in Britain there was an import tax of 5 shillings a pound (about £60 per kilogram in 200 prices), making it too expensive for ordinary people. Tea smuggling onto Britain was widespread. See also food.
1/7/1684, £1.06, 7.5p
1/7/1683, £1.05, 7.5p
1/7/1682, £1.06, 7.5p
1/7/1681, £1.08, 7.9p
1/7/1680, £1.04, 7.5p
1/7/1679, £1.10, 7.1p
1/7/1678, £1.08, 7.5p
1/7/1677, £1.04, 7.5p
1/7/1676, 99.2p, 7.9p
1/7/1675, £1.12, 7.9p
1/7/1674, £1.17, 7.5p
1/7/1673, £1.06, 7.5p
1/7/1672, £1.00, 7.5p
England’s Royal Africa Company was formed this year to replace the Royal Adventurers of England set up by King Charles II. It was to supply Britain’s colonies with 3,000 slaves a year for a price of £17 each, or one ton of sugar, each slave. At this time slaves could be purchased in Africa for £3 each.
1/7/1671, £1.04, 7.5p
21/4/1671, John Law, financier, was born.
1/7/1670, £1.03, 7.5p
1/7/1669, £1.05, 7.5p
1/7/1668, 97.1p, 7.5p
1/7/1667, 96.6p, 7.9p
1/7/1666, £1,00, 8.3p
1/7/1665, £1.05, 7.5p
1/7/1664, £1.10, 9.2p
1/7/1663, £1.10, 8.3p
1662, Advances began to be made in the science of assessing risk. John Gaunt, a member of the Royal Society, attempted to assess the probability of any one person dying from a certain cause, from the official London Mortality Statistics. However he did not include age at death. It was his fellow member, Edmund Halley, who, using data from the Silesian town of Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland), used data recorded on 1,238 births and 1,174 deaths, to calculate the odds of a person dying at a particular age. Halley was able to say that a 20 year old stood a 1:100 chance of dying within a year but a 50 year old stood a 1:38 chance of death within the next 12 months.
1/7/1662, £1.20, 7.5p
16/7/1661, The first banknotes in Europe were issued, by the Bank of Stockholm.
1/7/1661, £1.19, 7.1p
1/7/1660, £1.12, 7.5p
1/7/1659, £1,19, 7.5p
22/4/1659. The first cheque was drawn. It was for £10, on a London bank. This first cheque, written on 16/2/1659 by Nicholas Vanacker, made out almost exactly like a modern cheque, was sold at Sotheby’s in December 1976 for £1,000.
1658, Annual coal production at Newcastle on Tyne reached 529,032 tons, up from 32,951 in 1594 Deforestation of much of Europe had reduced the availability of wood.
1/7/1658, £1.12, 7.9p
The stage coach fare from London to Salisbury (2 days journey) was 20 shillings. From London to Exeter cost 40 shillings (4 days), and from London to Durham cost 55 shillings (no set journey time).
1/7/1657, £1,04, 7.1p
1/7/1656, £1,00, 8.8p
1/7/1655, 83.8p, 7.1p
1/7/1654, 92.5p, 7.5p
1/7/1653, £1,04, 7.5p
1/7/1652, £1,09, 7.1p
1/7/1651, £1,19, 7.5p
1/7/1650, £1,24, 7.1p
12/8/1649. Britain’s first employment agency, the Office of Entries, was set up in King Street, London, by newspaper proprietor Henry Walker. He was running a paper called Perfect Occurrences in which he advertised jobs. His agency charged 4d to both employer and employee. See 4/7/1631.
1/7/1649, £1,26, 6.6p
1/7/1648, £1,29, 7.1p
1/7/1647, £1,18, 7.1p
1/7/1646, £1,03, 6.6p
1/7/1645, 99.2p, 6.6p
1/7/1644, 97.9p, 6.6p
1/7/1643, 99.2p, 6.6p
1/7/1642, 97.1p, 7.1p
1/7/1641, £1,01, 7.1p
1/7/1640, 94.6p, 6.6p
1/7/1639, 99.6p, 6.6p
1/7/1638, £1,08, 6.6p
1/7/1637, £1.05, 6.3p
3/2/1637, The price of tulip bulbs in Dutch markets, which had reached the heights of 15 years’ salary for just one bulb, collapsed, ruining many.
1/7/1636, £1.04, 6.6p
31/7/1635. British inland public postal services were established, with charges of between 2d and 8d.
1/7/1635, £1.01, 6.3p
1/7/1634, £1.00, 6.3p
1/7/1633, 99.2p, 6.3p
1/7/1632, £1.01, 6.3p
1/7/1631, £1.04, 6.3p
1/7/1630, £1.02, 5.9p
1/7/1629, 88.4p, 6.3p
1/7/1628, 85.4p, 6.3p
1/7/1627, 86.2p, 5.9p
1/7/1626, 92.5p, 6.3p
1/7/1625, 91.7p, 5.9p
1/7/1624, 89.1p, 5.4p
1/7/1623, 91.6p, 5.9p
1/7/1622, 94.6p, 5.4p
1621, In an effort to curb usury, the maximum legal rate of interest in England was set at 8%. See 1545.
1/7/1621, 84.2p, 5.9p
1/7/1620, 80.8p, 5.9p
1/7/1619, 85.4p, 5.9p
1/7/1618, 91.2p, 5.9p
1/7/1617, 90.8p, 5.9p
1/7/1616, 89.6p, 5.4p
1/7/1615, 88.4p, 5.4p
1/7/1614, 90.4p, 5.9p
1/7/1613, 90.8p, 5.4p
1/7/1612, 87.5p, 5.9p
1/7/1611, 83.7p, 5.9p
1/7/1610, 81.2p, 5.9p
1/7/1609, 90.0p, 5.0p
1/7/1608, 88.7p, 5.4p
1/7/1607, 77.9p, 5.9p
1/7/1606, 76.7p, 5.4p
1/7/1605, 75.4p, 5.4p
1/7/1604, 71.3p, 5.4p
1/7/1603, 70.0p, 5.0p
1/7/1602, 73.8p, 5.0p
1/7/1601, 71.3p, 5.0p
1/7/1600, 70.4p, 5.4p
1/7/1599, 73.3p, 4.6p
1/7/1598, 87.1p, 5.4p
1/7/1597, 94.2p, 5.0p
1/7/1596, 82.9p, 5.4p
1/7/1595, 78.8p, 5.4p
1/7/1594, 71.7p, 5.0p
1/7/1593, 63.8p, 5.0p
1/7/1592, 60.9p, 5.0p
1/7/1591, 66.7p, 4.6p
1/7/1590, 67.1p, 5.0p
1/7/1589, 60.8p, 4.6p
1/7/1588, 58.7p, 5.0p
1/7/1587, 68.7p, 5.0p
1/7/1586, 68.7p, 5.0p
1/7/1585, 59.2p, 4.6p
1/7/1584, 56.3p, 4.6p
1/7/1583, 56.3p, 4.6p
1/7/1582, 58.3p, 5.0p
1/7/1581, 58.8p, 4.6p
1/7/1580, 52.1p, 4.6p
1/7/1579, 55.0p, 5.0p
1/7/1578, 55.0p, 4.6p
1/7/1577, 59.2p, 4.6p
1/7/1576, 54.6p, 4.2p
1/7/1575, 53.8p, 5.0p
1/7/1574, 60.4p, 5.0p
1/7/1573, 53.3p, 5.0p
1/7/1572, 50.8p, 4.2p
1/7/1571, 47.1p, 4.2p
1/7/1570, 48.3p, 5.0p
1/7/1569, 49.2p, 4.6p
11/1/1569. The first State Lottery was held in England. 40,000 lots at 10 shillings each were available from the west door of St Paul’s Cathedral. Proceeds were used to repair harbours and for other public works.
1/7/1568, 47.5p, 5.0p
1568. Prices in Europe have risen tenfold since 1500; this unprecedented rise due to the inflow of gold bullion from the New World.
1/7/1567, 45.0p, 4.6p
1/7/1566, 48.3p, 4.6p
1/7/1565, 47.5p, 4.6p
1/7/1564, 48.8p, 4.6p
1/7/1563, 52.5p, 4.2p
1/7/1562, 50.4p, 4.2p
1/7/1561, 50.4p, 4.6p
1/7/1560, 46.3p, 4.6p
1/7/1559, 44.6p, 2.9p
1/7/1558, 42.1p, 3.8p
1/7/1557, 57.1p, 4.2p
1/7/1556, 53.8p, 3.8p
In Winchester, England, a pound of beef cost 4d. A pound of candles cost 4d. A pound of butter cost 4d. A pound of cheese cost 4d. 2 eggs cost 1d. A whole sheep cost £1.
1/7/1555, 45.8p, 3.8p
1/7/1554, 39.2p, 3.8p
1/7/1553, 39.6p, 3.8p
1/7/1552, 42.9p, 3.8p
1/7/1551, 47.5p, 3.3p
1/7/1550, 43.8p, 3.8p
The Matron at Bartholomew’s Hospital, London received a salary of £3 5s 8d (£3.28) a year, also accommodation; until the 1700s she could augment here pay by selling beer. The ‘sisters’, assistants, received £2 a year salary.
1/7/1549, 35.0p, 2.9p
1/7/1548, 28.8p, 2.9p
1/7/1547, 28.8p, 2.9p
1/7/1546, 37.1p, 2.5p
1545, King Henry VIII of England set the maximum interest rate at 10%. See 1621.
1/7/1545, 35.0p, 2.5p
1/7/1544, 31.3p, 2.9p
1/7/1543, 29.2p, 2.9p
1/7/1542, 27.5p, 2.9p
1/7/1541, 27.9p, 2.9p
1/7/1540, 26.2p, 2.9p
1/7/1539, 25.0p, 2.5p
1/7/1538, 26.2p, 2.5p
1/7/1537, 29.2p, 2.9p
1/7/1536, 28.8p, 2.1p
1/7/1535, 27.5p, 2.1p
1/7/1534, 25.0p, 2.9p
1/7/1533, 27.5p, 2.5p
1/7/1532, 27.9p, 2.5p
1/7/1531, 27.5p, 2.5p
1/7/1530, 27.5p, 2.5p
1/7/1529, 27.5p, 2.5p
1/7/1528, 32.5p, 2.5p
1/7/1527, 24.6p, 2.1p
1/7/1526, 22.1p, 2.5p
1/7/1525, 22.5p, 2.5p
1/7/1524, 24.6p, 2.5p
1/7/1523, 25.4p, 2.5p
1/7/1522, 25.4p, 2.5p
1/7/1521, 27.9p, 2.5p
1/7/1520, 26.3p, 2.9p
1/7/1519, 23.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1518, 23.3p, 2.5p
1/7/1517, 21.3p, 2.5p
1/7/1516, 24.2p, 2.5p
1/7/1515, 22.5p, 2.5p
1/7/1514, 22.5p, 2.5p
1/7/1513, 25.1p, 2.5p
1/7/1512, 22.1p, 2.5p
1/7/1511, 19.6p, 2.5p
1/7/1510, 19.2p, 2.5p
1/7/1509, 18.8p, 2.5p
Because the Queen of England customarily did not breastfeed her children, a ‘wet nurse’ was appointed, a woman who had recently given birth herself, was appointed. The salary for this post in 1509 was £20 a year.
1/7/1508, 21.7p, 2.5p
1/7/1507, 21.7p, 2.5p
1/7/1506, 20.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1505, 21.7p, 2.5p
1/7/1504, 22.9p, 2.5p
1/7/1503, 22.5p, 2.5p
1/7/1502, 24.2p, 2.5p
1/7/1501, 23.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1500, 20.0p, 2.5p
1/7/1499, 21.3p, 2.5p
1498, First recorded pawnshop in Germany, at Nuremberg.
1/7/1498, 20.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1497, 22.5p, 2.5p
1/7/1496, 18.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1495, 20.4p, 2.5p
1/7/1494, 20.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1493, 20.8p, 2.9p
1/7/1492, 22.1p, 2.9p
1/7/1491, 22.9p, 2.1p
1/7/1490, 21.3p, 2.1p
1/7/1489, 22.1p, 2.5p
1/7/1488, 21.3p, 2.1p
1/7/1487, 22.1p, 2.5p
1/7/1486, 21.3p, 2.5p
1/7/1485, 21.3p, 2.5p
1/1/1485, The English Parliament set aside £14,000 for the King’s Household Expenses. This eventually became the Civil List, which the present British Royal Family still live on.
1/7/1484, 24.2p, 2.5p
1/7/1483, 26.3p, 2.9p
1/7/1482, 23.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1481, 21.3p, 2.5p
1/7/1480, 21.3p, 2.5p
1/7/1479, 22.5p, 2.5p
1/7/1478, 22.5p, 2.5p
1/7/1477, 21.3p, 2.9p
1/7/1476, 20.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1475, 20.0p, 2.5p
1/7/1474, 20.0p, 2.5p
1/7/1473, 20.0p, 2.5p
1/7/1472, 21.3p, 2.9p
1/7/1471, 22.5p, 2.5p
1/7/1470, 22.5p, 2.5p
1/7/1469, 22.5p, 2.5p
1/7/1468, 22.1p, 2.5p
1/7/1467, 21.3p, 2.5p
1/7/1466, 20.4p, 2.5p
1/7/1465, 20.0p, 2.5p
1/7/1464, 18.3p, 2.5p
1/7/1463, 19.6p, 2.5p
1/7/1462, 23.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1461, 23.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1460, 21.3p, 2.5p
1/7/1459, 21.3p, 2.5p
1/7/1458, 21.7p, 2.5p
1/7/1457, 20.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1456, 20.4p, 2.5p
1/7/1455, 19.6p, 2.5p
1/7/1454, 20.4p, 2.5p
1/7/1453, 21.3p, 2.5p
1/7/1452, 21.7p, 2.5p
1/7/1451, 21.3p, 2.9p
1/7/1450, 20.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1449, 21.3p, 2.5p
1/7/1448, 20.4p, 2.5p
1/7/1447, 22.1p, 2.5p
1/7/1446, 21.3p, 2.5p
1/7/1445, 18.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1444, 20.0p, 2.5p
1/7/1443, 20.0p, 2.5p
1/7/1442, 19.6p, 2.5p
1/7/1441, 19.2p, 2.5p
1/7/1440, 24.2p, 2.5p
1/7/1439, 27.9p, 2.5p
1/7/1438, 27.1p, 2.9p
1/7/1437, 21.3p, 2.5p
1/7/1436, 21.3p, 2.5p
1/7/1435, 20.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1434, 21.3p, 2.5p
1/7/1433, 23.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1432, 20.0p, 2.5p
1/7/1431, 22.1p, 2.5p
1/7/1430, 24.2p, 2.5p
1/7/1429, 24.6p, 2.5p
1/7/1428, 20.4p, 2.5p
1/7/1427, 20.0p, 2.5p
1/7/1426, 20.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1425, 22.1p, 2.5p
1/7/1424, 20.0p, 2.5p
1/7/1423, 20.0p, 2.5p
1/7/1422, 21.3p, 2.5p
1/7/1421, 22.1p, 2.5p
1/7/1420, 20.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1419, 22.9p, 2.5p
1/7/1418, 22.1p, 2.5p
1/7/1417, 25.0p, 2.5p
1/7/1416, 22.9p, 2.5p
1/7/1415, 20.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1414, 20.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1413, 21.3p, 2.5p
1/7/1412, 21.3p, 2.5p
In southern England the standard rate of pay for a building craftsman was 6d (2.5p) a day; a general labourer earned 4d (1.7p) a day. These rates of pay remained unchanged until the 1530s.
1/7/1411, 22.5p, 2.5p
1/7/1410, 25.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1409, 23.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1408, 22.5p, 2.5p
1/7/1407, 20.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1406, 19.6p, 2.5p
1/7/1405, 20.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1404, 20.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1403, 23.3p, 2.5p
1/7/1402, 25.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1401, 23.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1400, 22.1p, 2.5p
1/7/1399, 21.3p, 2.5p
1/7/1398, 22.5p, 2.1p
1/7/1397, 22.5p, 2.1p
1/7/1396, 20.0p, 2.1p
1/7/1395, 20.0p, 2.1p
Ale cost 0.8d a gallon. Bordeaux wine was 3.5d per gallon. Chickens were 2d each. Apples cost 7d per 100. Eggs were 33d for 425. A labourer was paid 3.25d a day, a carpenter made 4.25d a day. A mason earned 6d a day, and the Kings Physician was paid £40 a year.
1/7/1394, 19.2p, 2.1p
1/7/1393, 18.8p, 2.1p
1/7/1392, 21.3p, 2.1p
1/7/1391, 25.4p, 2.1p
1/7/1390, 22.1p, 2.1p
1/7/1389, 17.9p, 2.1p
1/7/1388, 19.2p, 2.5p
1/7/1387, 20.4p, 2.1p
1/7/1386, 21.3p, 2.5p
1/7/1385, 20.4p, 2.5p
1/7/1384, 21.3p, 2.1p
1/7/1383, 20.8p, 2.1p
1/7/1382, 21.3p, 2.1p
1/7/1381, 20.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1380, 22.5p, 2.1p
1/7/1379, 19.2p, 2.1p
1/7/1378, 20.0p, 2.5p
1/7/1377, 21.3p, 2.1p
1/7/1376, 26.3p, 2.5p
1/7/1375, 27.1p, 2.5p
1/7/1374, 22.9p, 2.5p
1/7/1373, 25.8p, 2.5p
1/7/1372, 24.2p, 2.5p
1/7/1371, 26.3p, 2.1p
1/7/1370, 33.3p, 2.1p
1/7/1369, 25.4p, 2.1p
1/7/1368, 25.0p, 2.1p
1/7/1367, 23.8p, 2.1p
1/7/1366, 22.9p, 2.1p
1/7/1365, 24.6p, 2.1p
1/7/1364, 26.3p, 2.1p
1363, In Britain, an agricultural labourer’s daily wage was 2.5 d (1p). A leg of roast mutton cost 2.5d, as did three whole pigeons. A whole roast pig cost 8d (3.3p). However salt added 40% to the cost of meat; it would take 2d worth, 2 lbs, of salt, to cure and preserve 5d worth, 20 lbs, of meat.
1/7/1363, 25.4p, 2.1p
1/7/1362, 22.5p, 2.1p
1/7/1361, 22.9p, 2.1p
1/7/1360, 23.3p, 2.1p
English labourers who demanded wage rates above those set by the Statute of Labourers Act, 1351, which was enacted to prevent a massive rose in wages due to the labour shortages caused by the Black Death, were punished with imprisonment.
1/7/1359, 22.9p, 2.1p
1/7/1358, 24.2p, 1.7p
1/7/1357, 24.2p, 2.1p
1/7/1356, 23.3p, 2.1p
1/7/1355, 22.5p, 2.1p
1/7/1354, 21.7p, 2.1p
1/7/1353, 22.5p, 1.7p
1/7/1352, 27.5p, 2.1p
1/7/1351, 24.6p, 2.1p
1/7/1350, 20.8p, 2.1p
The Black Death affected English price levels, as a much lower population reduced demand for food, but labour availability also shrank. A good horse now cost 16 shillings, down from 40 shillings in 1348. A fat ox now sold for 4 shillings, a cow for 1 shilling, and a fat sheep now sold for 6d. However the price of wheat rose because a shortage of field hands meant landowners had been forced to convert much cropland into pasturage, which was much less labour0intensive.
1349, 1350, The Statute of Labourers was passed. It was an attempt to fix wages at 1347 levels, to curb the rise in wages caused by the labour shortages as a result of the Black Death. Movement of labour in search of higher wages was also proscribed. However these provisions were ineffective. These statutes were finally repealed in 1863.
1/7/1349, 17.9p, 1.3p
1/7/1348, 21.3p, 1.3p
1/7/1347, 21.3p, 1.3p
1/7/1346, 17.9p, 1.3p
1/7/1345, 17.5p, 1.3p
1/7/1344, 19.2p, 1.3p
1/7/1343, 17.5p, 1.3p
1/7/1342, 17.9p, 1.3p
1/7/1341, 21.1p, 1.3p
1/7/1340, 19.6p, 1.3p
1/7/1339, 15.8p, 1.3p
1/7/1338, 17.1p, 1.3p
1/7/1337, 18.3p, 1.3p
1/7/1336, 20.0p, 1.3p
1/7/1335, 18.7p, 1.3p
1/7/1334, 19.2p, 1.3p
1/7/1333, 20.0p, 1.3p
1/7/1332, 23.7p, 1.3p
1/7/1331, 23.3p, 1.3p
1/7/1330, 21.7p, 1.3p
1/7/1329, 21.7p, 1.3p
1/7/1328, 20.0p, 1.3p
1/7/1327, 18.7p, 1.3p
1/7/1326, 20.8p, 1.3p
1/7/1325, 23.7p, 1.3p
1/7/1324, 22.5p, 1.3p
1/7/1323, 25.4p, 1.3p
1/7/1322, 29.2p, 1.3p
1/7/1321, 22.9p, 1.3p
1/7/1320, 21.7p, 1.3p
1/7/1319, 19.6p, 1.3p
1/7/1318, 25.0p, 1.3p
1/7/1317, 32.1p, 1.3p
1/7/1316, 31.3p, 1.3p
1/7/1315, 23.3p, 1.3p,
Food prices rose sharply as a famine hit England. A quarter of wheat cost 20 shillings, compared to five shillings in 1313.
1/7/1314, 22.5p, 1.3p
1/7/1313, 20.4p, 1.3p
1/7/1312, 21.3p, 1.3p
1/7/1311, 25.0p, 0.8p
1/7/1310, 25.0p, 1.3p
1/7/1309, 23.8p, 0.8p
1/7/1308, 20.8p, 0.8p
1/7/1307, 19.2p, 0.8p
1/7/1306, 19.6p, 0.8p
1/7/1305, 19.6p, 1.3p
1/7/1304, 17.5p, 1.3p
1/7/1303, 18.3p, 1.3p
1/7/1302, 19.2p, 1.3p
1/7/1301, 20.0p, 1.3p
1/7/1300, 21.2p, 1.3p
1/7/1299, 20.8p, 0.8p
1/7/1298, 20.4p, 0.8p
1/7/1297, 19.2p, 0.8p
1/7/1296, 21.7p, 0.8p
1/7/1295, 22.5p, 0.8p
1/7/1294, 22.1p, 0.8p
1/7/1293, 19.2p, 0.8p
1/7/1292, 19.2p, 0.8p
1/7/1291, 20.4p, 0.8p
1/7/1290, 17.5p, 0.8p
1/7/1289, 15.4p, 0.8p
1/7/1288, 14.6p, 0.8p
1/7/1287, 16.3p, 0.8p
1/7/1286, 18.3p, 0.8p
1/7/1285, 17.1p, 0.8p
1/7/1284, 20.0p, 1.3p
1/7/1283, 20.0p, 0.8p
1/7/1282, 20.4p, 1.3p
1/7/1281, 17.9p, 0.8p
1/7/1280, 19.6p, 1.3p
The two Chief Justices of England were each paid £40 a year.
1/7/1279, 17.5p, 0.8p
1/7/1278, 18.8p, 0.8p
1/7/1277, 21.3p, 0.8p
1/7/1276, 19.2p, 0.8p
1/7/1275, 20.8p, 0.8p
1/7/1274, 21.7p, 0.8p
1/7/1273, 19.2p, 0.8p
1/7/1272, 22.5p, 0.8p
1/7/1271, 22.1p, 0.8p
1/7/1270, 17.5p, 0.8p
1523, First marine insurance policies issued, in Florence, Italy.
1/7/1215, Pay rates in the English military had risen from their 1154 levels. A Foot Sergeant was paid 3d a day (1d in 1156). A Mounted Sergeant with one horse got 7 1/2/d a day (2d in 1156). In 1215 Mounted Sergeants with two horses got 1 shilling a day, and those with three, 1s 3d a day.
1208, A shoemakers guild (gremi) was recorded in Barcelona. Mediaeval guilds arose during the 1200s and 1300s as associations to preserve quality and keep trades secrets.
1185, The first fire and plague insurance policy, in Iceland.
780, Charlemagne standardised the coinage, decreeing that the pound (libra) should consist of 20 shillings (solidi), and each shilling should consist of 12 pence (denarii). This system endured in Britain until 1970.
1/1/600, The Law of Ethelbert, King of Kent 560-616, set out the following compensation payments for various injuries. Cutting off an ear, 12 shillings, or 25 shillings if the victim was also deaf in the other ear. Striking out an eye, 50 shillings. Breaking the chin bone, 20 shillings. Knocking out one front tooth, 6 shillings; for an additional tooth injured, 4 shillings; for a third tooth, 3 shillings, for each tooth injured beyond that, 1 shilling each.
1/7/500, One shilling was the value of a cow in Kent, or one sheep elsewhere in Britain. An Atheling (Prince) was worth 1,500 shillings. An Eorl (Nobleman, or Earl) was worth 300 shillings. A Ceorl (Churl, or Yeoman Farmer) was worth 100 shillings. A Laet, or Agricultural Serf, was worth between 40 and 80 shillings. A slave (on this system) was worthless. The family of a murdered man could be compensated for in cash. The ransom to be paid for lesser offences also varied on these terms; for example slandering am Atheling would cost the offender five times as much as slandering an Eorl.
28/11/303. Twenty years after coming to Power, the Emperor Diocletian made his first visit to Rome. There were festivals and games in his honour. After many years of disorder and danger, the Roman Empire was enjoying a period of peace. Diocletian made major administrative and economic reforms. He separated military and administrative departments, and fashioned a formal, unbroken, chain of command from the Emperor right down to the lowliest official in a distant province. His economic reforms were less successful. To tackle inflation he imposed price and wage controls. A wide range of goods were covered, including brandy, meat, fruit, vegetables, bread, leather, carpets, and clothes, in his edicts of 301. Maximum pay rates were also fixed, from labourer to lawyer; punishment for breaching these regulations was exile or even death. However these reforms collapsed under the impact of massive shortages and a rampant black market. Diocletian also simplified the tax system, but this effectively legalised the system of exacting contributions from the peasants in the form of labour and produce. This tied them to the land as serfs.
Diocletian’s price and wage list included the following. For wages, a labourer would get 25 denarii a day. Note that in 33 AD the day’s wage for a labourer was one denarius. Bakers would be paid 50 d a day, scribes 25 d per 100 lines, and teachers 50d per pupil per month. Prices would be, 1d for an egg, 24d for a lemon, 30d for a chicken, 250d for a pheasant, 30,000d for a male slave, and 100,000d for a racehorse.
1/7/1, A Roman teacher got paid 60 denarii a day; enough to buy 3kg of pork, or 5 litres of cheap wine.
221 BC, A standardised bronze coin was introduced in China, by Emperor Qin Shihuangdi.
268 BCE, The first appearance of the Roman silver Denarius ( 1 d) coin.
350 BCE, The customary rate of interest in Greece was 10%; for risky enterprises such as shipping, it was 20 or 30%.
390 BCE, Origin of the words ‘money’ and ‘mint’. The Gauls attacked Rome, where the reserves of money were kept, but the defenders were alerted by the cackling of geese in the capitol. In gratitude, Rome erected a shrine to Moneta, goddess of warning; from her name, the words money and mint are derived.
405 BCE, Earliest known instance of Gresham’s Law, that bad money drives out good from circulation. In Athens, the public hoarded any available silver coins, leaving only the inferior bronze ones in circulation.
650 BC, The earliest known coins were minted, in Ephesus and Lydia. They were made of electrum, an alloy of gold and silver. By 570 BCE coins were in use in Athens and Corinth.
1170 BCE, The first recorded strike in history. Labourers on the Necropolis at Thebes, Egypt, downed tools when their pay was delayed during a period of high inflation.
1200 BCE, Cowrie shells in use as money in China.
2000 BCE, Banking was now in practice in Mesopotamia. It likely developed, from 3,000 BCE onwards, out of the use of temples and palaces as safe storage places for grain harvested but not yet consumed. Subsequently, precious metals, agricultural implements, and even cattle could be deposited and stored at such places.
2200 BCE, Cappadocian rulers issued guarantees concerning the weight and purity of their silver ingots. This assisted their widespread acceptance as a form of money.
6000 BCE, Cattle, recently domesticated, became the first form of money. Grain was also used similarly.
Appendix One; companies, credit ratings, banks and bailouts
For airline companies see Aviation.
For railway companies see rail travel.
15/1/2018, The British public sector contracting company Carillion went into liquidation, threatening the jobs of its 43,000 employees and the viability of 30,000 subcontractors, in areas as diverse as school meals, infrastructure construction, and army bases.
2/6/2016, British Home Stores, once a flagship of UK High Streets, went into liquidation. No buyer had been found for the 88-year-old business, putting 163 stores and 11,000 jobs on the line.
22/2/2013, The Credit Agency, Moodys, downgraded the UK’s rating from AAA to AA1.
21/2/2012, A second bailout of Euro 130 billion was agreed for Greece.
16/5/2011, The European Union agreed to a Euro 78 billion rescue deal for Portugal.
6/4/2011, Portugal asked for a bailout from the EU.
21/11/2010, Ireland asked for a bailout from the EU.
2/5/2010, The EU and the IMF agreed a Euro 110 billion bailout for Greece; Greece would adopt austerity measures.
17/3/2010, LTI, the last motor manufacturing plant in Coventry since 2008, announced that it would be shifting production of its taxi cab body and chassis to China, but still shipping them to Coventry for the final assembly.
27/11/2009, Dubai requested a debt restructuring following from heavy investment in building projects; the announcement caused shares to fall worldwide.
15/3/2009, The Bank of England cut rates to a record low of 0.5%, where they remained in 2015; it also announced £75 billion of quantitative easing.
2008, Westfield shopping centre, Shepherds Bush, London, 150,000 sq m, opened.
2008, Liverpool 1 shopping centre, 130,000 sq m, opened.
11/12/2008, Bernard Madoff was arrested in the US on charges of running a huge Ponzi scheme.
13/10/2008, The UK Government bailed out the Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds TSB and HBOS, using billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.
1/10/2008, The French power company EdF acquired British Energy plc, which operated 8 of Britain’s 10 nuclear power stations.
15/9/2008, As the global Credit Crunch took hold, Lehman Brothers, the 4th largest US investment bank, collapsed.
14/7 2008, In the midst of the Credit Crunch, the Spanish bank Santander bought the troubled UK bank Alliance and Leicester.
14/3/2008, In the midst of the Credit Crunch, investment bank Bear Sterns was bought by rival JP Morgan for US$ 236 million (UK£ 155 million).
22/2/2008, The Northern Rock Building Society had to be taken into State control due to the subprime mortgage lending crisis.
18/2/2008, The UK Parliament passed an emergency Bill allowing the nationalisation of Northern Rock.
13/9/2007, In the UK, Northern Rock bank sought emergency funds from the Bank of England due to liquidity problems, precipitating a run on the bank.
9/8/2007, The French bank, Paribas, halted withdrawals from three of its funds due to ‘complete evaporation of liquidity. The Credit Crunch had begun.
20/10/2006, Corus announced that it had accepted a £4.3 billion offer from Tata Steel.
5/2006, The verdicts came in from the Enron trial (see 2/12/2001). Mr Lay, a chief executive of the company, was found guilty on all charges against him, including conspiracy, false statements, securities fraud and bank fraud. Lay died before sentencing whilst on holiday in Aspen. Mr Skilling was found guilty on 18 out of 21 charges, and was sentenced to 24 years 4 months in prison and ordered to repay US$ 26 million; he appealed.
19/8/2004, Google was listed as a private company.
14/11/2002, Argentina defaulted on a US$ 805 million payment due to the World Bank.
2/12/2001, In the US, Enron, a Houston-based energy-trading conglomerate, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after a planned buy-out by Dynergy fell through. This was the largest bankruptcy in the US to date; Enron had debts in excess of US$ 40 billion. See 8/11/2001.
8/11/2001, The Enron Corporation was forced to write down its earnings back to 1997 by 20% and reduce its retained earnings by US$ 2.2 billion, following an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Enron had concealed its partnerships with Chewco and Joint Energy Development Investments, which kept a US$ 600 million debt hidden from Enron’s balance sheet. See 2/12/2001.
24/10.2001, Mr Fastow resigned as Chief Financial Officer of Enron, with a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation pending.
16/10./2001, Enron reported a US$ 618 million third quarter loss.
14/8/2001, Mr Skilling, CEO of Enron since 1997, unexpectedly announced his resignation ‘for personal reasons’. Enron stock, which investors had been assured was going to reach US$ 100, plunged to below US$ 40.
28/9/2000, The West Quay shopping centre opened in Southampton. This immediately upped Southampton’s Experian ranking in terms of UK shopping centres from 38th to 13th; the ranking subsequently improved further to 7th by 2002.
15/6/2000. The clothes retailer C & A announced it was closing all its stores and making its 4,800 staff redundant.
1999, Bluewater shopping centre, Kent, 155,700 sq m, opened.
1998, Trafford shopping centre, Manchester, 137,400 sq m, opened.
1998, In the UK, British Steel was privatised.
22/6/1998, Tony Blair praised the £758 million London Millennium Dome, erected on a former gasworks site, as a ‘symbol of Britain’s creativity. Construction of the Dome had begun on 22/6/1997.
1996, In the UK, British Nuclear Power was privatised. British Rail was privatised.
2/12/1995, In Singapore, rogue trader Nick Leeson was sentenced to 6 ½ years in prison. He had been extradited from Germany and pleaded guilty to fraud and forgery.
1995, In the UK, Powergen was privatised. National Power was privatised. British Coal was privatised.
1995, Ebay was founded. It was originally called Auctionweb and changed to its current name in 1997.
2/3/1995. Financial dealer Nick Leeson was arrested at Frankfurt Airport after a week-long manhunt. The derivatives trader, working for Barings Bank, see 26/2/1995, had bet on the Japanese futures market, and assumed that the Nikkei would rise; it fell, especially after the Kobe earthquake. Barings lost £860 million. Later in December 1995, after apparently striking a deal with the Singapore authorities, Leeson was sentenced to six and a half years.
26/2/1995. The 200 year old Barings Bank went into receivership. One of its brokers, Nick Leeson, had lost US$1.4 billion speculating on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. See 2/3/1995.
10/11/1993. Euro Disney announced losses of US$ 900 million after its first year of business. Europe-wide recession, high interest rates, and high unemployment were blamed by management for the losses. The 10,000 staff fear further job cuts on top of the 950 already dismissed, but must keep smiling to welcome the visitors (both of them).
29/3/1993. Two Hoover executives were fired by the American parent company Maytag after the free-flights fiasco. The deal whereby any Hoover purchase over £100 entitled the customer to a flight worth £400 was vastly over-subscribed and cost Hoover over £20 million.
2/10/1992. In the USA, IBM announced it was to lay off 40,000 workers, 25% of its workforce.
6/3/1992. British Telecom announced 25,000 job cuts, over 10% of the workforce.
17/1/1992, IBM announced its biggest ever loss, US$ 564 million,
9/12/1991, £420 million was found to be missing from pension funds controlled by the late Robert Maxwell, who died on 5/11/1991.
5/11/1991. The body of the millionaire publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell was found at sea hours after disappearing from his yacht off the Canary Islands. The funeral was in Israel on 8/11/1991.
29/4/1991. Marks and Spencer announced 850 job losses in the first redundancy programme since the 1950s.
28/2/1991. British banks announced major job losses, despite a cut in interest rates to 13% on 27/2/1991. Barclays planned to shed 5,000 jobs. Overall, some 30,000 banking jobs were expected to go in the next two years.
1990, Meadowhall shopping centre, Sheffield, 132,000 sq m, opened.
1990, Lakeside shopping centre, Essex, 130,300 sq m, opened.
29/6/1990. British Steel revealed that its Chairman, Sir Robert Scholey, received a 79% pay increase in 1989, taking his annual pay to £308,541.
25/12/1989, The Bank of Japan announced a large rise in interest rates, leading to the collapse of Japan’s bubble economy.
1987, In the UK, Rolls Royce was privatised. British Airways was privatised. British Airports Authority was privatised. A second tranche of British Petroleum was privatised.
1986, In the UK, British Gas was privatised.
1986, The Metro Shopping centre, Gateshead, 165,000 sq m, opened.
1985, Merryhill shopping centre, Dudley, 148,000 sq m, opened.
1985, Enron was founded as the result of a merger between Houston Natural Gas and InterNorth. The Chariman of the new company was Kenneth Lay.
31/3/1985, In Britain, the National Coal Board announced a record loss of £2,225 million.
11/3/1985. The Al-Fayed brothers won control of the House of Fraser Group to become owners of Harrods.
1984, In the UK, British Telecom was privatised. Enterprise Oil was privatised. Jaguar was privatised.
1983, The Microfinance movement began when Nobel Prizewinner Muhammad Yunus founded the first Grameen (Village) Bank in the Bangladeshi village of Jobra. He lent to women, as they were a better credit risk than men.
1983, In the UK, Associated British Ports was privatised. Cable and Wireless was privatised.
6/1983, The first issue of a new type of mortgage-backed security known as a Collateralised Mortgage Obligation was made. This effectively converted bundles of household mortgages into bonds, and the buyers of these bonds knew nothing about the soundness of the mortgages they were buying into. So long as house prices kept rising, the odd default could be absorbed of course.
1982 In the UK, the National Freight Corporation was privatised. Britoil was privatised. Amersham International was privatised.
1982, St David’s shopping centre, Cardiff, 129,500 sq m, opened.
7/10/1982, In the UK, the major banks cut their base rate from 10.5% to 10%.. British Steel warned that one or more of its large plants would have to close.
14/8/1982, Barclays Bank opened on a Saturday, for the first time in 13 years.
1981, In the UK, Cable & Wireless was privatised.
1980, In the UK, British Aerospace was privatised.
14/10/1980, ICI announced it would make 4,500 employees redundant.
15/2/1980, As the UK steel strike continued, middle management passed a vote of no confidence in the board of executives.
17/1/1980, British Steel announced it would axe 11,287 jobs by end-March 1980.
1979, In the UK, British Petroleum was privatised.
1976, The first Body Shop opened, in Brighton.
1975, Manchester Arndale, 130,000 sq m, opened.
15/3/1975, Aristotle Onassis, Greek shipping magnate and Olympic Airways operator, second husband of Jacqueline Kennedy, died.
14/8/1974, Clarksons and Horizon Holidays collapsed, leaving over 5,000 stranded abroad.
1972, British Airways was formed when BEA (British European Airways) and BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) merged
14/6/1971, The UK Government said no public money would be provided to save Upper Clyde shipbuilders from liquidation. 4,000 jobs were at risk, and employees planned a ‘work-in’.
4/2/1971. Rolls Royce declared bankrupt in the UK.
1970, Penn Central collapsed, It had been the USA’s largest railway company, and the 6th largest US company overall
26/1/1968. The two British banks, the National Provincial and the Westminster, merged to form the National Westminster Bank.
27/6/1967. Barclay’s Bank, in Enfield, north London, opened Britain’s first cash dispenser.
18/10/1966. Death of the cosmetic company founder, Elizabeth Arden.
29/6/1966, Barclaycard, the first British credit card, was introduced.
11/1/1966. Barclays Bank announced plans to go into the credit card business with its Barclaycard, available free to both customers and non-customers of the bank. The card would have a limit of £25, and higher amounts could be spent following a telephone check. Hoteliers objected vigorously since promoters make their profit by taking a discount from the amount charged to the card, typically 5% to 10%. Barclays announced that the discount would be 3% to 5%.
31/5/1965. Duty free cigarettes went on sale at Heathrow Airport at £1 for 200. A spokesman for Tetley’s, Britain’s biggest teabag manufacturer, said they would have 25% of the market by 1975.
25/8/1958, Midland Bank was the first bank to announce it would offer personal loans, from September 1958.
15/2/1951, Britain nationalised the iron and steel industry.
18/7/1950, Richard Branson, head of the Virgin companies, was born.
30/6/1950, It was announced that the National Coal Board made a profit of £9.5 million in 1949.
13/7/1948, It was announced that the UK coal industry lost £13 million in its first year of nationalisation.
1/4/1948. Britain nationalised the electricity industry.
1/12/1947, Samuel Courtauld, silk and nylon manufacturer, and patron of the arts, died in London.
27/11/1947. Austrian banks were nationalised.
8/5/1947. Death of the American department store founder, Henry Gordon Selfridge.
1/3/1947. The International Monetary Fund began operating.
1/1/1947. Britain’s coal industry was nationalised under the Coal industry Nationalisation Act, 1946. The National Coal Board (NCB) was set up, to control 1,647 mines, 100,000 miners homes and over a million acres of land. The NCB was chaired by Lord Hyndley. Cable and Wireless was also nationalised this day.
27/5/1946, The Bank for Reconstruction and Development, an organisation first proposed at the Bretton Woods Conference and constituted in 1945, began operations.
1/3/1946, The Bank of England was nationalised by Act of Parliament.
27/12/1945. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, commonly known as the ‘World Bank’, was established. The Bank began operations, officially, in June 1946 at its headquarters at Washington, DC. The IMF was also established this day.
23/10/1942, Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, was born.
1/1/1939, Hewlett-Packard was founded in Palo Alto, California, by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard.
19/10/1933, The 1,000th Boots chemist opened, at Galashiels, Scotland. By 1939 the chain operated 1,200 stores across the UK.
30/4/1933. The USA came off the Gold Standard to prevent a drain on gold stocks.
25/4/1933. Canada came off the Gold Standard.
6/3/1933. The growing financial crisis in the USA caused all banks to close for 4 days.
27/12/1932. South Africa came off the Gold Standard.
22/7/1932, The Imperial Economic Conference began at Ottawa.
11/7/1932. The World Bank called for a return to the Gold Standard.
14/3/1932. The US industrialist George Eastman, founder of Kodak, committed suicide.
11/12/1931. Japan abandoned the Gold Standard.
30/11/1931. EM was formed by the merger of His Master’s Voice and Columbia.
25/10/1931. France and the USA agreed to retain the Gold Standard.
28/9/1931. Denmark abandoned the Gold Standard. Norway, Sweden, and Egypt abandoned it on 27/9/1931.
20/9/1931. The Pound was poised for a fall after Britain announced it was abandoning the Gold Standard because of heavy pressure on the nation’s Gold Reserves. A 30% devaluation took the pound from US$4.86 to about $3.50. Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour government took many measures, including spending cuts and cutting unemployment pay, but the economic crisis sweeping the world was too severe.
13/6/1931. Jesse Boot, who founded Boots the Chemist, died aged 81 in Millbrook, Jersey. He was created Baron Trent in 1929.
30/8/1930, Warren Buffett, US investor and philanthropist, was born.
20/8/1930, The Imperial Economic Conference at Ottawa ended.
20/5/1930. The Bank for International Settlements was set up in Basle, Switzerland. It had two purposes; to handle the payment of reparations by Germany after World War One, and to establish an institution for central-bank co-operation.
13/11/1929, The Bank for International Settlements was founded.
2/11/1926. Imperial Chemical Industries, ICI, was formed, from the merger of four companies; Brunner Mond, Nobel Industries, United Alkali and British Dyestuffs.
28/4/1925. Britain returned to the Gold Standard. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Winston Churchill, told the House of Commons he will not renew the Act of 1919 which suspended the Standard. Symbolically, this measure signalled a return to pre-War stability and a Victorian era in which Britain was pre-eminent. However Cambridge economist John Maynard Keynes warned that the USA was not actually adhering to a Gold Standard; it was manipulating the price of gold, at great expense, to ensure it stayed level with the US Dollar. For Britain to return to the Standard meant subjugating UK economic policy to that of the USA.
29/12/1924, John D Rockefeller donated US$ 1 million to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
8/8/1919, F W (Frank Winfield) Woolworth, US merchant and founder of Woolworth stores in 1879, died.
12/12/1914 The New York Stock Exchange reopened, for the first time since World war One began. It was hoped to raise money for the war effort, but stock values plummeted.
1913, Britain had seen major concentration in its banking sector, with the number of retail banks falling from a peak of 755 in 1809 to just 17 in 1913.
1/1/1912. The British Post Office took over the National Telephone Company, for the sum of £12,515,264.
8/6/1911, The Birkbeck Bank, London, crashed.
1909, The first Woolworths store in the UK opened, in Liverpool; Selfridges opened in London, the first department store in Britain.
1907, The Swiss National Bank was founded.
1907, Henry Deterding founded the Royal Dutch Shell Oil Company.
29/5/1902. The London School of Economics and Political Sciences was opened by Lord Rosebery.
7/4/1902. The Texas Oil Company, or Texaco, was founded.
25/2/1902. In the USA, Herbert Cecil Booth founded the Vacuum Cleaner Company Ltd.
23/2/1901, The United States Steel Corporation was founded. The US iron and steel magnate Andrew Carnegie (1835-1918) sold the Carnegie Steel Corporation to the US Steel Corporation for the unprecedented sum of US$ 447 million. Carnegie then made several philanthropic donations; beneficiaries included US and Scottish universities.
5/2/1901. The world’s first billion-dollar business deal. J Pierpont Morgan bought a billion dollars worth of mines and steel mills.
14/3/1900. The US Dollar went on the Gold Standard, under President McKinley.
8/10/1897, In America, the Dow Jones company was set up by the financial journalist Charles Henry Dow, 46. He took the price of 12 stocks and averaged their price to create the Dow Jones Index.
6/8/1891. The first traveller’s cheque, devised by American Express, was cashed.
23/9/1889, The Nintendo Company was founded, as a playing card company.
8/7/1889, The Wall Street Journal was first published.
14/7/1888. Businessman Jesse L Lippincott founded the world’s first record company, the North American Phonograph Company, in Pennsylvania.
7/5/1888. George Eastman, a former bank clerk aged 34 (see 12/7/1854), founded the Kodak photographic company. He chose the name Kodak because he thought it would be easy to remember.
15/8/1885, Sir Montague Burton, owner of a multiple chain of clothes shops, was born to Jewish parents in Lithuania.
1884, The first Marks and Spencer’s outlet opened, in Kirkgate Market, Leeds.
1884, Lloyds Bank was founded.
1883, The first Boots chemist opened, in Nottingham, the home town of its founder, Jesse Boot, the son of a Wesleyan herbalist.
1882, The Bank of Japan was founded.
22/2/1879, F W Woolworth opened the first Woolworth 5 and 10 cent variety store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. An earlier Woolworths 5 cent store in Utica, New York, had failed.
1/8/1877. In Boston, USA, The Bell Telephone Company was formed, headed by Alexander Graham Bell.
4/1/1877. Cornelius Vanderbilt, who rose from poor agrarian roots to amass a US$100million fortune in shipping and railways, died aged 83. He had started a ferry service to Staten Island at age 16 and by 30 he controlled almost all the Hudson shipping business, by undercutting his competitors.
1875, The German Reichsbank was founded.
10/1/1870. John D Rockefeller and his brother William founded the Standard Oil Company of Ohio, later known as Esso.
24/9/1869, An American financial disaster, ‘Black Friday’, occurred when a shrewd and unscrupulous investor, Jay Gould, attempted to corner the gold market.
11/1/1864, Harry Gordon Selfridge, American retailer, was born in Ripon, Wisconsin.
16/9/1861. The Post Office Savings Bank was instituted in Britain.
13/4/1852. Frank Winfield Woolworth, the American chain store pioneer, was born in Rodman, Jefferson County, New York State.
19/9/1851, William Lever, soap maker and philanthropist, later Lord Leverhulme, was born in Bolton. He was the son of a grocer.
1849, The Pfizer pharmaceuticals company was established when Charles Pfizer and his cousin Charles Erhart set up a small chemical company in Wiliamsburg, a then-rural part of Brooklyn.
1847, The Woolwich Building Society was founded.
21/12/1844. A group of unemployed workers in the mill-town of Rochdale, Lancashire, formed the first Co-operative shop in Toad (T’owd) Lane. They called themselves the Rochdale Pioneers, and soon had 50 members. Each member received a dividend, or share, of the shop’s profits. It cost one shilling to join.
31/8/1835, The Great Western Railway Act of Incorporation was passed.
1834, The National Provincial Bank (later National Westminster) was founded.
1833, The London and Westminster Bank (later National Westminster) was founded.
1832, Kendals department store, Manchester, was established.
22/4/1823, The Baltic Exchange, London, was established, as the Baltic Club.
13/12/1816, Ernst Werner von Siemens, founder of the electrical engineering giant Siemens in 1847, was born.
1813, Harvey Nichols department store, London, was established.
15/2/1812, Charles Tiffany, founder of the eponymous US jewellery shop chain, was born.
15/3/1811. The Austrian state was bankrupt, due to inflation caused by soaring military expenditure.
1810, Heals department store, London, was established.
18/1/1800. The Banque De France was established, under Napoleon Bonaparte, to finance the war.
17/5/1792, 24 merchants met in Wall Street, New York, to set up the New York Stock Exchange.
1778, Debenhams department store, London, was established.
1/8/1778. The first savings bank opened, in Hamburg.
25/12/1762, Barings Bank was founded in London, UK.
23/2/1743, Meyer Rothschild, founder of the banking dynasty, was born in Germany.
3/2/1730, The London Daily Advertiser published the first ever Stock Exchange quotations.
1710, The Sun Insurance Office was founded; it specialised in fire insurance.
27/7/1694. The Bank of England was founded, by Montagu, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with government backing. Its remit was to carry out all the monetary business of the government and to obtain interest on the government’s money.
1/11/1693, The Bank of Scotland was founded.
3/12/1591. The earliest recorded fire insurance policy. 101 persons, mainly brewers, agreed to pay out a maximum of 10 thalers to any fellow member whose property was damaged by fire.
18/6/1583. The first life insurance policy was sold in London. William Gibbons took out a policy whereby his relatives would be paid £383 if he died within 12 months of the policy date; the policy was underwritten by 16 individuals. Gibbons did indeed die in May 1584, and Richard Martin then disputed the policy and refused to pay out. The courts decided he had to pay. Many more such life policies were issued but it was not until 1923 that the Life Insurance Companies Act was passed.
21/11/1579, Sir Thomas Gresham, who founded the Royal Exchange, died.
23/1/1571. The Royal Exchange, founded by financier Sir Thomas Gresham, was opened by Queen Elizabeth I as a bankers meeting house. Its foundation stone was laid on 7/6/1566.
7/6/1566, Sir Thomas Gresham laid the foundation stone of the first Royal Exchange in London.
552, Byzantine Emperor Justinian sent missionaries to China; their real purpose was to smuggle silkworms back to Europe. In 553 the silk industry became a State Monopoly in Byzantium.