|In politics, traditional Conservative Governments headed by Harold Macmillan and Sir
Alec Douglas-Home gave way to Harold Wilson, who claimed to represent the "white heat
of technological revolution". The shock of the Profumo scandal (starring Christine
Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies) helped to bring down Macmillan and was the first of many
similar episodes which continue to hit the headlines up to the present day.
Internationally the decade saw the beginning of the Vietnam War and assassination of
President Kennedy (1963). Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon on July 20th 1969. A great
social change occurred in Britain in 1963 when Dr Beeching axed the local railways and put
Britain on to the road. The repercussions of this ill advised reform are now being felt.
In 1960 the first laser was built in the United States, an event which had farreaching
implications in medicine and industry. The 1960s also saw the development of diagnostic
ultrasound in medicine: important work in this field, particularly in antenatal scanning,
took place in Glasgow. In 1967 the first heart transplant took place. Among women's
scientific achievements, in 1964 Dorothy Hodgkin followed Marie Curie in being awarded the
Nobel Prize for Chemistry for discovering, by the use of X-ray techniques, the structure
of molecules, including penicillin, vitamin B12 and insulin.
The decade began with an obscenity trial at which the publishers of " Lady
Chatterley's Lover" were resoundingly acquitted and now it seemed that anything would
be allowed in books or on radio or TV and now the internet.
The age of permissiveness dawned. The permissive society arrived with the Pill, one of the
most revolutionary medicines ever to come into the pharmacists' shops (1960). In fact the
Pill did more than merely allow permissive sex. It put women in charge of their own
reproductive powers for the first time and allowed them to plan careers and families in an
organised way which was not possible before.
The greatest phenomenon in the entertainment world was the emergence of the Beatles. Their
first single "Love Me Do" was released in October 1962. In February 1963 their
next song "Please Please Me" reached No.2 in the charts and on 31st August 1963
the song "She Loves You" entered the top twenty. Before the year was out they
had another number one "I Want To Hold Your Hand". The Sunday Times called
Lennon and McCartney "the greatest composers since Beethoven". They were
certainly as famous.
It was the era of mini-skirts, Twiggy, flower power, drugs and hippies. Hire-purchase -
"live now, pay later" - destroyed middle class thrift. British families became
motorised and took package holidays to Spain. There was reform of the laws on
homosexuality, divorce and abortion. Roy Jenkins once said that "the permissive
society is the civilised society". In some ways he was right, but for many the legacy
of the decade of change was bitter. But, like them or hate them, after the Sixties Britain
was never the same again.
|The Sixties brought a new University to Glasgow. Strathclyde University was
established in 1964 on the basis of the Royal Technical College and since then has
expanded its city centre campus enormously. It has been far sighted in playing a
considerable role in the regeneration of Glasgow and has led the field in vocational
Another exciting development was the foundation of Scottish Opera by Sir Alexander Gibson,
ably assisted by Peter Hemmings. They started off with a short season of about six weeks
in the Kings Theatre, but what a thrill. There were epoch making productions of operas
like Otello, Boris Godunov, Pélleas et Mélisande and the Trojans. Wagner's complete Ring
followed later. Top singers like Janet Baker and Charles Craig were brought in. These were
heady days when everyone donned long evening dresses and dinner jackets for first nights
which were great social occasions. The company later moved to the refurbished Theatre
A great and nostalgic event occurred in Glasgow on September 1st 1962 when a quarter of a
million Glaswegians gathered in the streets in torrential rain to wave good-bye to the
last of the "caurs". The trams ran no more. More and more motor cars were on the
road and to cope with traffic crossing the river the Clyde Tunnel opened in 1963. More
significantly, an ambitious plan was devised to bridge the Clyde nearer the city centre
and connect the bridge with a motorway which would extend from Greenock to Edinburgh. This
involved tearing apart the area around Charing Cross and many fine buildings were lost, on
the assumption that there were plenty more. Typical of the redevelopment seen in the 60s
in many parts of Glasgow were the changes in the Anderston Cross area. Old tenements were
demolished (as chronicled in Louise Annand's "Glasgow Sketchbook") and, with
prosperity and full employment seemingly assured, the Glasgow Labour councillors,
supported by successive Tory Governments, persevered in their efforts to clear the slums.
The people of Anderston were told that only 3,800 of the existing population of 11,430
would be rehoused at Anderston Cross. Important new buildings were erected in the
surrounding area, including the Queen Mother's Hospital at Yorkhill (1964) and the rebuilt
Royal Hospital for Sick Children (1971). In the more difficult economic circumstances of
the late 1960s and '70s the policy of redevelopment proved mistaken. It was no longer
possible to find the "worst slums" in Anderston as Sir John Betjeman had done in
the 1950s, but the children who had moved out to schemes like Castlemilk provided their
own pointed criticism of their new high rise homes, encapsulated in a popular folk song :
"Oh ye canna fling pieces oot a twenty storey flat,
Seven hundred hungry weans'll testify to that.
If it's butter, cheese or jeely, if the breid is plain or pan,
The odds against it reaching earth are ninety-nine tae wan".
Soroptimism in the Sixties
|Although women were taking up posts previously occupied by men, the "Swinging
Sixties" did little to improve the social progress of women. Women's liberation
movements were being formed but their extremism laid them open to ridicule and, in fact,
equal rights were at a low ebb. Soroptimists had to contribute to the real advancement of
the position of women. In 1963, members were urged to dedicate effort "to meet the
challenge of youth in the changing world ". Soroptimism was also committed to
encouraging career women.
In 1965 the Glasgow Central Club decided to interpret the quadrennial theme "Towards
Understanding" by forming links with overseas students and nurses in the city. Over
the next three years, these young women were guests of the Club at a number of varied and
happy social occasions and outings.
In November 1967, the Club celebrated its fortieth anniversary with a dinner in the
Central Hotel. The two "Daughter Clubs", Glasgow South and Glasgow West,
presented bars for the President's chain to mark the occasion. In 1967-71, the quadrennial
theme on which all Soroptimists focused was "Educate for Progress'. In 1968 the
Glasgow Club decided to send textbooks to a college in an underdeveloped country. These
books were eventually sent to the Lesotho Training College at Marija. At the 1969 meeting
of the International Federation Board, held in Edinburgh, a Swedish lady, Gunnel
Hazelius-Berg, was installed as International President. She was a lecturer in the
University of Stockholm, who had received the Swedish Royal Decoration for her role in
developing a folk museum park and cultural area on the outskirts of the city. The weather
for the International Friendship days in Edinburgh was not good. Guests were rained off at
the Garden Party at the Royal Palace of Holyrood House. After the Edinburgh meeting, a
party of twenty six Soroptimists from England and overseas toured Scotland. Glasgow Clubs
joined Greenock and Paisley to take a party on an evening cruise "doon the
watter". This was a memorable occasion, with balmy weather, the Firth looking its
incomparable best in a technicolor sunset. Dr Maud Menzies records, "we had
"high tea" at Greenock with suitable white heather corsages, then went aboard
the "Countess of Breadalbane" for a glorious evening sailing round the Firth of
Clyde. Christina Keachie taught them all to do Scottish country dances and to the
astonishment of the crew, we drank the boat dry!" In 1967 Dr Maud Menzies was
invested as a Serving Sister in the Most Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem ~ an
honour in the gift of the Queen. The citation mentioned her army service in the R.A.M.C.
and her landing on the beach in Normandy. In 1989, at Dunblane Cathedral, she was upgraded
to Officer of the Order on account of the work she had done for it.