Little boys show off their Xmas presents (including astronaut suits and Space Hoppers) in Crown Street in the Gorbals area of Glasgow in December 1970.

Scotland in the 1970s: A nation at leisure

It was a pre-digital age when Scots were spending more time experiencing the pleasures of the outside world.

Data compiled over the last 50 years suggests that the 1970s was the happiest decade for family life before technology began to creep in and swallow up our free time.

As surprising as it might sound, reports reveal that the average person in Scotland enjoys less leisure time now compared with the Seventies, despite people working fewer hours in the 21st century.

One contributing factor is that screen time since the 1970s has increased exponentially. Back then, families spent more time interacting with one another and kids, free from the irresistible trappings of the internet, smart phones and video games, were more inclined to play outside and run around until the sun went down without anyone worrying.

The 1970s also witnessed a shift in how many Scots spent their holidays. Traditional trips to the Highlands, Loch Lomond and “doon the watter” of the Clyde coast were still immensely popular and, for the majority of families, still the main summer destinations, but the arrival of low-cost package holidays abroad was a real turning point.

Assured of much-needed sunshine, more and more Scots were switching Butlin’s Ayr for Benidorm, and airlines and travel operators offering prices as cheap as £80 for a fortnight’s stay in sunny Spain, who could blame them?

Package holidays hadn’t quite caught on yet during the winter months, however. Heavy snowfall was not uncommon during the decade and Scottish skiing was reaping all the benefits.

The Cairngorms resort was in its heyday and the nearby Alpine-style holiday retreat at Aviemore was attracting huge crowds between November and February.

Just like in recent years, a large portion of the Scottish population were regularly attending football matches, but the beautiful was undergoing a dramatic and much-needed transformation.

The mammoth attendances that saw Hampden Park claim a string of all-time world records were on the way out as the country responded to the tragic events of 1971, when 66 fans died and more than 200 were injured in a crush among the crowd at Ibrox during the Old Firm game that January.

Capacities at Scotland’s biggest grounds were greatly reduced for safety reasons. The 1973 Scottish Cup Final between Rangers and Celtic was contested at Hampden before 122,714 spectators and would prove to be the last 100,000+ crowd for any football match in the United Kingdom.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription at

Page 1 of 3