Between rock and a hard place: what Scottish life was like in the 1960s

The 1960s were a time of great change across the world, an era of rebellion and cultural shift in society – even in Scotland.

A young fan in a kilt gets to meet Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison when the Beatles came to the ABC cinema in Edinburgh in 1964

People everywhere, particularly the younger generation, began railing against mainstream values. They stood up for their beliefs and individuality, protesting to get their voices heard on issues from nuclear weapons and war to civil rights and liberation for women.

The rebellious mood and social changes were reflected across politics, music, fashion and leisure.

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Young Scots were rocking and rolling with youths everywhere to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and home-grown songstress Lulu, while a folk revival saw Scottish acts like the Corries, Aly Bain, Phil Cunningham, Jean Redpath and the Humblebums – a duo featuring Billy Connolly – gain huge followings.

Children enjoy rides on Portobello beach, outside Edinburgh, in September 1965

In March 1960 fans welcomed a surprise visit from the King himself, who touched down at Prestwick airport in Ayrshire while flying back to the US after completing military service in Germany. It was the only time Elvis Presley ever set foot on British soil.

The Fab Four performed in Scotland 22 times between 1962 and 1965, including a ‘flop’ gig in Dingwall where they played to a crowd of just 19 – many of whom walked out before the end.

The decade also witnessed major medical and technological advancements, including the first ever heart transplant, the maiden supersonic flight of Concorde and the earliest incarnation of the internet.

It culminated in the“giant leap for mankind” in 1969, when Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon.

Beauty contests were popular in the 1960s - here women line up to take part in the Munrospun competition in November 1965

Innovations also drastically changed how people spent their leisure time.

By the 1960s nearly every household had electricity and with that came ‘mod cons’ such as fridges, cookers and washing machines, freeing up women from some of their traditional domestic responsibilities.

The mini skirt, designed to allow the wearer freedom to “run and jump”, became the icon of 1960s fashion and was enthusiastically adopted by Scottish women.

Scooters became a popular way of getting about and were the only way to travel for any self-respecting Mod.

A model wearing a mini-dress poses on a Lambretta scooter outside the showroom of Graeme P Chatham in Edinburgh

The invention of colour television, pocket radios and audio cassettes allowed people to spend more of their free time listening to music and watching telly.

Meanwhile, children begged their parents for the latest toys, with Sindy and Action Man dolls, Skalextric, Spirograph and Etch-a-Sketch becoming hot favourites.

At the same time Scotland was in the grip of a housing crisis, with countless people living in dreadful poverty and slum conditions in dilapidated tenement blocks.

The creation of ‘cities in the sky’ was seen as a solution, prompting a high-rise building boom that would ultimately lead to bigger problems.

Travellers disembark at Edinburgh's Morningside railway station in 1961 - the station, which opened in 1884, was closed down in 1962 although the line remains and is used for freight

Sparked by high unemployment, shipyard closures and the demise of traditional industries, Scotland experienced a renewed interest in independence which in 1967 saw the nationalists win a seat in Westminster for the first time since 1945.

The Tories of the time were so concerned that leader Edward Heath committed the party to some form of Scottish separation in a statement known as the Declaration of Perth in March 1968, becoming the first mainstream UK political party to propose the creation of a devolved Scottish assembly. But it was a pledge they were never forced to honour.

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A little girl shows off her sandcastle on Portobello beach in July 1965 - technological advancements and factory working in the 1960s saw many people able to enjoy more leisure time

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Customers browse the goods on show in a new extension at Edinburgh's renowned Jenners department store in August 1967
Football fans turn out in force to celebrate Celtic's European Cup win in 1967
Sea Scouts rehearse for the Gang Show in Edinburgh in November 1965
Children enjoy ice cream in Edinburgh's Princes Street gardens in the summer of 1965
Pupils from Musselburgh Grammar School in East Lothian enjoy a half-day holiday in December 1965
The Beatles played in Scotland 22 times between 1962 and 1965 - including a 'flop' gig in Dingwall where they performed for an underwhelmed crowd of just 19 people, many of whom walked out before the end of the set
Youngsters show their excitement as they set off on the Edinburgh taxi drivers' annual outing for disabled and under-privileged children in June 1967
Children in their pyjamas enjoy the Wee Willie Winkie ball, held at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh in December 1967
Judges assess the contestants at a beauty queen contest in the popular seaside town of Dunbar, East Lothian
An aerial view of Edinburgh, showing George Heriot's School in the foreground and Edinburgh Castle behind, shows how the capital looked back in 1965
Carol Letheridge and Lesley Brown take part in a mannequin parade at the Miners Gala Day in Holyrood Park, Edinburgh, in 1968
Pop fan Irene Smith reaches out to touch singer Frankie Vaughan at a gig in Leith Town Hall, Edinburgh, in 1961
Bingo players eagerly check their cards at a packed-out Falkirk ice rink in October 1967
An aerial shot of John Brown's shipyard in Clydebank in December 1965 shows the scale of work taking place on the River Clyde at that time
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