Music in the 1960s and 70s

Panel 04 Beatles ticket

This is a resource to help school groups learning about 20th Century and local history. It is designed to be used in conjunction with the information panels are linked from this page. A pdf of this resource and a class activity can be downloaded by clicking the link below.


60s Hoe St

By the start of the 1960s Walthamstow, like other places, had largely recovered from the effects of the Second World War. New flats had been built, some of them in the newly fashionable form of high rise blocks. Houses had been repaired. Bomb sites had been built over. There was more money about, and more jobs.

For more information about Walthamstow’s recovery after World War II click here to read ‘Walthamstow: Survival and Change’

Spinwasher AdvertAlong with the extra money, more consumer goods were available. Fashion clothes at affordable prices had arrived. Labour saving devices such as washing machines and vacuum cleaners were in the shops. And with full employment and good pay, there were better holidays and more possibility of time off, and the energy to enjoy it, in the working week.

For more about 1960s consumer goods, inventions and holidays, click here.

Panel 03 Walthamstow Mods

For the younger generation, this was a time of expanding horizons. The new universities that began to welcome students in this decade offered higher education to many young people who would previously have thought this was “not for them”. And colleges nearer home offered training, while changes in secondary education offered the opportunity of leaving school with some qualification to many more young people.

Click here for more information on 1960s fashion

twistingAlong with other new possibilities, this was a time when many young people had more freedom and more opportunities than ever before. The term “teenager” came into general use; for the first time, many young people had influence over their futures. And, on a smaller scale, many young people had a first taste of independence, making many decisions for themselves and relishing the music, entertainment, transport and food that were available to them.

Click here for more on 1960s bands and the local venues that hosted concerts.

Terry Rance (one of the original members of Iron Maiden) grew up in Queens Road. Click to read more

This was a time, too, when many new people came to live in the area. There were jobs available, and, increasingly, houses and flats. Many of them had been specifically recruited to come to the UK to work in factories, in the new NHS and in the public transport system. Many of them settled down happily, but not everyone.

Not everyone was comfortable with the changes. And for those broken or bereft by the war, they came too late. But for many, this was a time of hope.

More information on the Beatles and other popular songs of the era can be downloaded here:


Music and performance in the late nineteenth century

Conductor 1890

There is information on the panels and elsewhere on this website about Walthamstow’s rapid transformation from village to commuter town to urban area over just a few decades.

To download this teachers resource along with a suggested activity please click the link below:


(c) Vestry House Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) Vestry House Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

As it grew, Walthamstow changed in character. Many of the comfortably-off families who had lived in the area in the 1860s began to move further out of London, often making a handsome profit by selling their substantial gardens and orchards for development. Many local Victorian houses have one or two very old fruit trees or even a magnolia in their garden, survivals of past grandeur.


Click to read the panel ‘Walthamstow Transformed’


27 Chelmsford RoadBut there was also more investment, in everything from churches to factories to schools. Education for all children was now compulsory, and free, and that education included music as well as the Three Rs. In Walthamstow as elsewhere, the newly literate wanted more, and better, education for themselves and their children.

Click here to read the panel ‘Our Town’

Poverty Children's breakfast fund concert 1899The first public concerts began to be held, first in church halls, and then in the grand Victoria Hall built by J F H Read – a prosperous resident who stayed on, helping the town as philanthropist, musician and promoter of many good causes.

Click here for more information about  JFH Read and the house he lived in – The Chestnuts

At this time the only official safety net for those who fell on hard times was the workhouse. But there was also a network of local charities, providing everything from medicine to layettes for new babies to fuel to evening classes, with money raised by special events of all kinds as well as direct donations. . And increasingly those in need themselves became involved in raising the money needed.

Click here to see the information panel ‘Music for Charity’

It was very common for local schools and churches to organise boot clubs. At a time when many children missed school because their families could not afford to buy them footwear, parents who could would pay a subscription to spread the cost of shoes. And for those who could not, the community would get together to find ways and means.

Click here to see the information panel ‘Music for All’


Music Resources






Music in Tudor Walthamstow

Henry VIII psalter image

This is a resource to support school groups learning local and Tudor history at KS2. It is designed to be used in conjunction with the information panels. A pdf of this resource and class activity can be downloaded by clicking the link below:


HenryVIIIAt the time when Henry VIII was spending his father’s legacy on bringing both London and the Royal Palaces to the highest level of luxury and taste, Walthamstow was still a country village – or, more accurately, a string of hamlets joined by lanes. Church End, where the church was and is, was one of these. A time traveller from the present day would find the nights dark, the roads muddy and the buildings few and unfamiliar.

Click to here to read the information panel ‘Growing London’


The church was in the same place but the windows and doors and stonework different. The house one day to be called the Ancient House was a farmhouse surrounded by meadows and fields. High Street and Hoe Street were in the same places, but lined only with a few substantial houses. There was no Lea Bridge Road, and anyone wanting to travel to London needed either to go south to Stratford and cross the Bow Bridge or cross the River Lea by the ferry at Tottenham. For those wanting to save the price of the ferry fare or bridge toll, there was always the Black Path from Walthamstow to the City. This was the drovers’ road where animals were driven to be sold at the London markets.

For the information panel on Tudor Walthamstow click here

But this was a privileged area, with prosperous farms, many producing some of the already immense quantities of produce needed to feed London. It was a good place, too, for people who had made a fortune in London to buy a house and land so their children could grow up in healthier air.

Two of the Bassanos did just that, acquiring at least two houses and plots of farmland, one near what is now the High Street and the other in the Wood Street area. The Bassanos became well respected members of the local community for several generations.

To read ‘Venice and the Bassanos’ about the family’s life before they came to England click here

While we do not have detailed descriptions of the Bassanos’ house, it is very likely to have been a timber framed house similar to the one now known as the Ancient House, which was rebuilt in the years before the Bassanos’ arrival, and which was typical of the area. If so, it was a hall house, with a central living area and with extensions on each end, one for the kitchens and the other for private space and bedrooms for the family. By the time the Bassanos came to Walthamstow the house might well have had brick chimneys and a separate dining room for the family rather than the whole household, including the servants, eating together every day. There would certainly have been several living-in servants to do the work of the house, and more to run the home farm that would have produced much of the food for the household.

To read more about the Bassano family coming to England, click here

At this time anyone who could afford it would eat as much meat or fish as they could. This, though, was cooked in many different ways – joints were appreciated, but so were spiced stews and pies. Better-off people would eat vegetables in season, for example a dish of peas or asparagus. And everyone would eat vegetable broth in winter when food was short, especially after a bad harvest. Everyone ate a lot of bread, fine white manchet for the grandest, coarse rye bread for those at the bottom of the social heap, and something resembling modern wholemeal for those in between. There were, as yet, no potatoes, tomatoes or tea or coffee or chocolate. Most people drank ale (not yet beer) with most meals, with wine for the better off. Fruit was regarded with suspicion as being indigestible, and usually cooked before eating.

At this time, as we have seen, most music and entertainment happened at home. And everyone expected to sing, dance and, ideally, would play one or more musical instruments.

For more information on Tudor music making click here

There were Bassanos in Walthamstow for at least a hundred years – one of them had to pay extra tax in 1615 instead of helping to maintain local roads. And in London, there were Bassanos living at their house in Mark Lane until at least the 1640s.

To read more on what happened to the Bassano family after the Tudor period click here

Music Resources