Change was afoot in the 1950s.
It was the decade when the country finally emerged from post-war austerity, with rationing on essentials like soap and tea dropped.
The clothes may look a bit drab, but Britain was beginning to rid itself of post-war austerity. This was the queue for a sale at Dunnings the drapers in Maidstone in February 1950 Walking the plank! A woman is rescued from an upstairs room in Island Walk, Whitstable, after horrendous floods hit Kent in 1953 A charming reflection of an age of innocence - the Medway at Rochester in 1953. Note the Shorts flying boat in the river Winston Churchill pictured at the annual carnival procession at Westerham in June 1954. His son-in-law Christopher Soames is standing behind his chair A classic Guy Arab double-decker of the East Kent Company passes through Canterbury's city wall at the Westgate in 1959. Picture: Howard Butler/Ian Allan Residents of Blue Town, Sheerness, get set for a coach trip in the 1950s. Picture: Bel Austin
The 1950s also saw the rise of television. At the end of the 1940s, just 350,000 households had a TV and only BBC1 was available. By 1960, almost three quarters of the population had one (although they were only about 12 inches in size).
We also welcomed a new Queen, the beginnings of mass car ownership and the first electric trains.
Yet we were still paying for our shopping with shillings and sixpence - and the average house cost just £1,891, equivalent to about £57,000 today.
These classic pictures show just how different life was in Kent 70 years ago. But the archive photos also reveal early signs of the huge changes which would form the modern county we know today.
The decade began with a tragedy as HMS Truculent sank following a collision off the coast of Medway on January 12. Sixty-four men on board died.
The following month a General Election was held, with a certain Miss M Roberts (AKA Margaret Thatcher) standing for the Conservatives in Dartford. She failed to take the seat from Labour, which also maintained its majority in the country.
The conning tower of HMS Truculent comes into view above the waters of the Thames Estuary in January 1950. The submarine's bow had struck a Swedish oil tanker outside the mouth of the Medway. HMS Truculent sank and 64 men on board lost their lives Mrs Barbara Taylor, of Sittingbourne, was the 1950 winner of the Kent Hop Queen Competition, organised by the Kent Messenger Miners pictured at Bettshanger on December 22, 1950. The village was home to Kent's biggest colliery. When it opened in 1927 about 1,500 miners came to live in Deal, the nearest town to the pit. Betteshanger was the last colliery to return to work following the miners' strikes of 1984-85, and it was the last in Kent to close, in 1989 Off to the polls in February 1950 during petrol rationing. The Conservatives were returned to power, but not in the constituency where these electors voted. Mr A G Bottomley (Labour) retained his seat for Chatham and Rochester Miss M Roberts (AKA Margaret Thatcher) took the first step in her political career when she stood as the conservative candidate for Dartford in the 1950 General Election. The seat was won by Labour, although their majority was cut Princess Margaret on her first official visit to Ramsgate, in May 1950. She visited the Newington housing estate and named its central thoroughfare, Princess Margaret Avenue. She then planted a commemorative tree. The Princess also cut the first sod on the site of the council's 1,000th post-war house In the days when life's pleasures were decidedly more simple than today, children enjoyed making soap box carts. Pictured is the Mote Park soap box derby in 1950, with the Mayor Alderman W. Day doing the honours Political correctness was unknown when this group posed during Snodland Carnival celebrations in the summer of 1950 Maidstone Market put the town on the county's business map for centuries. It was first held in 1267. This was the scene at the Lockmeadow home of the market on a typical Tuesday in 1950 This Dickens coach was assembled to celebrate the centenary of Cobham Cricket Club in 1950 and is seen arriving at the Bull Hotel, Rochester, which figures in Pickwick Papers The last run of Sheerness Light railway, in December 1950 Inside Snodland Paper Mill in September 1950. There has been a mill of some sort on the site for centuries, with one even included in the Domesday Book Maidstone Aces Motor Cycle club members gave a display at Boughton Monchelsea fete in 1950 St George's Street in Canterbury in February 1950. In those days, cars could drive all the way up and down the high street Princess Margaret came to Canterbury in May 1950 to distribute the prizes at St Edmund's school (of which her father, King George VI, was patron). She also went to the Cathedral during her semi-official visit to the city Princess Margaret presents Latin, Greek, English and Natural History prizes to J M Taylor at St Edmund's School
In what would spark a shopping revolution, the first-ever purpose-built supermarket was opened by Sainsbury's in Croydon in July.
Two months later, post-war soap rationing was finally ended.
Kent's worst road disaster occurred in Dock Road, Gillingham, on December 4, 1951, when a double-decker bus ploughed into Royal Marine cadets marching to a boxing tournament.
Twenty-four boys, aged between eight and 15, were killed and 18 injured.
Marines bear the coffins of 24 cadets killed by a bus in Gillingham in December 1951 Gillingham High Street in 1951. The British Queen pub on the left is now home to a Betfred, while the Barclays Bank is now occupied by Dockside Property Services A transport plane flies low over the Roman Road at Lympne, near Hythe, in October 1951. Operating from 1916 to 1984, Lympne Airport was used as a military airfield during the First and Second World Wars. In the 1950s, it ran a coach-air service to Paris and back Huge crowds of holidaymakers greeted Princess Elizabeth as she was driven along the seafront at Margate in July 1951 on her way to the Royal School for Deaf and Dumb Children in the town. Here the Princess is seen being introduced to members of the school's committee by its treasurer, Lord Ebury The old Marlowe Theatre in St Margaret's Street, Canterbury, is pictured in December 1951. It was built in 1927, originally as the Centre Picture Theatre, and demolished in 1982 to make way for the Marlowe Arcade Pre-pedestrianisation, Ashford was proud of the extreme width of the High Street, which this 1951 picture illustrates. Picture: Images of Ashford by Mike Bennett The opening ceremony of The Flying Saucer pub in Hempstead in April 1951. It is still open today and is owned by Greene King The promenade at Hythe in October 1951
The year had begun with the first-ever episode of The Archers on January 1. The series is still on air more than 70 years later.
In October, Winston Churchill achieved a remarkable political comeback by leading the Conservatives to victory in the General Election, ending Clement Attlee's six-year tenure as Prime Minister.
Seventy years ago, the reign of Queen Elizabeth II began.
Her father King George VI, who had been suffering from lung cancer, died aged 56 on February 6. Two days later, Elizabeth was proclaimed Queen.
The Kent Messenger's coverage on February 15, 1952, of the new Queen and her previous visits to the county Sheppey United 1951/52 - winners of the Kent Amateur Trophy. Picture: Alan Jack Salt, a 65-year-old Ceylon elephant (with trainer Prince Abdul Karim, his wife and two sons) was rescued from Vauxhall Lakes, Canterbury, in October 1972 after seven-hour ordeal. Salt had wandered off from her grazing ground at Sturry Road when Ringland's Circus came to town. Tragically, she never recovered and died a week later Students at Canterbury College of Art wear some of their own creations at their fashion parade in summer 1952 Monica Ellenden, three, had a royal visitor while she was a patient at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Folkestone, in July 1952. Princess Margaret toured children's wards, medical and surgical wards and a new wing built to replace one destroyed by German shellfire during the war. She later had tea at the Leas Cliff Hall The Duke of Windsor (formerly King Edward VIII, until his abdication in 1936) played a round of golf at the Royal St George's Club, Sandwich, in October 1952. He was staying at a hotel on the front at Sandwich Bay, where he hosted a dinner party for six golfing friends A look inside Gravesend's Marks and Spencer store in 1952. It closed in 2014 after a century of trading and is now occupied by B&M. Picture: Rachael Cokayne-Staniforth In June 1952, Canterbury said goodbye to four British Rail horses which had become a familiar sight in the city's streets. They had lost their job to lorries! Wincheap County Primary school pupils held a harvest thanksgiving in October 1952 Post-war Canterbury takes shape in the St George's area in November 1952. Ricemans department store was yet to be built and Pettit & Son tobacconists still occupied its site at St George's Gate Trolley buses pictured in Maidstone in 1952. They ran in the town from 1928 to 1967 Blessing of fisheries in Whitstable in 1952 St Barts Hospital, Rochester, in April 1952. It was founded in 1078 for the care of the poor and lepers. It later became part of the NHS until it closed permanently in 2016 French cargo vessel AGEN wrecked on the Goodwin Sands in January 1952 Punting on the Royal Military Canal in Hythe in May 1952
In other significant events, the UK exploded its first atomic bomb in the Monte Bello Islands, Australia.
And that same month, after 13 long years, tea rationing was finally ended in October.
It was the year of the Queen's Coronation and street parties were held across the county in June.
The monarch had been called to action in February, after Kent was hit by the worst floods in living memory, bringing havoc and unparalleled damage.
A severe European windstorm over the North Sea caused a storm tide, flooding the coast up to 5.6m high, overwhelming most sea defences.
The week after disastrous floods hit Kent in February 1953, the Queen crossed the Thames from Purfleet to Gravesend in a Port of London Authority launch to see the damage. She was the first reigning monarch to make an official visit to Gravesend in 95 years. She talked to so many stricken residents that she was two hours behind schedule by the time she set off for Erith and Belvedere Cars left outside Whitstable Golf Club were nearly submerged by the rush of water in February 1953 Into the streets of Whitstable the flood water poured with a suddenness that caught the residents unawares and they had to be rescued Forty-five appliances from all parts of Kent were used to pump the water out of Whitstable Water polo would have been a more appropriate sport at Gravesend's Northfleet Football ground when the floods hit in 1953 The Isle of Sheppey was completely cut off, isolating some 25,000 people. The flood waters severed road and rail links to the island at Kingsferry Bridge People waited for lorries to get them through the water at the bottom end of Maidstone High Street in 1953 Herne Bay seafront after the flooding in 1953 Children sorting out family belongings salvaged from their sea-wrecked homes in Beach Street, Herne Bay Smiling faces all round at this street party in New Town Street, Canterbury, to mark the coronation in June 1953 Enjoying a coronation dance at Kingston, near Canterbury, in June 1953 The youngsters of Perryfield Street, Maidstone, sat down to a slap-up tea as part of their coronation celebrations in June 1953 After more than two years in a North Korean prison camp, Signalman Arthur Miles, 35, was back in Barham with his daughter Gladys, six, and her dog, Suzy, in September 1952. He had been taken prisoner at the Battle of Imjin River in 1951 while serving with the Royal Corps of Signals during the Korean War, which began in June 1950 and ended in July 1953 Miss June Kirk, 18, of Littlebourne, was elected the first Apple Queen of England for the East Kent Fruit show in Canterbury in November 1953. Her prizes included a frock and nylons Troops in the new dining hall and kitchen at The Buffs Depot in Canterbury in December 1953. The barracks were later renamed Howe Barracks and in 2016 the land was purchased by Taylor Wimpey, who have since built hundreds of homes on the site, known as Royal Parade These rugby players met the Queen Mother when she visited Tonbridge School and opened a memorial gateway to mark its 400th anniversary in October 1953 Kingsgate Castle and beach, near Cliftonville, in August 1953 Looking up St Peter's Street from the Westgate, Canterbury, in November 1953. The Electricity showrooms on the corner - demolished in 1961 for road widening that never came - used to be the Corner House Cafe. Just visible (right) are the destinations of the East Kent Road Car Company, whose bus station was in St Peter's Place until the mid-1950s
The floods damaged 990 miles of coastline across the country, with the death toll on land estimated at 307.
The coronation in the summer was televised by the BBC, with sales of TVs rising sharply in the weeks before.
Another significant event in June was the first roll-on roll-off ferry crossing of the Channel, between Dover and Boulogne.
Following the downpours of 1953, the first-ever weather forecast with an in-vision presenter was broadcast in January 1954.
In 1954, the forecast was snow - which covered much of Kent in February.
Children playing in the snow near Maidstone in February 1954 Broadstairs after heavy snow falls across the county in February 1954 Heavy snow in Iwade between Sittingbourne and Sheppey in February 1954 Long before they were rock legends, Rolling Stones Keith Richards (bottom row 3rd from left), Mick Jagger (right of centre, holding a black cat) and Peter Holland (immediately to the left of Mick Jagger) were pictured in 1954 at Wentworth School, Dartford. Picture: SWNS The Georgian tower of St Andrew's Church in The Parade, Canterbury, is pictured in January 1954. It was demolished two years later. The site is now part of Natwest The final of the Canterbury bat and trap festival cup was held in the Dane John in August 1954 A hop-picking machine in action at Tony Redsell's farm at Boughton in September 1954. The use of such machines grew in response to a labour shortage One of the most spectacular blazes in Canterbury since the war was the fire which destroyed the Westgate flour mills of W Hooker and Son at The Causeway in June 1954 A charming view of the Medway Valley in 1954 - boys at play still wore jackets and ties Lydd Airport was opened for civil use in 1954, after the Second World War, when the transport of cars was its chief use Miss Canterbury, 17-year-old Pauline Groombridge, on her carnival float in August 1954 with Maids of Honour Barbara Farrow, 16, and Shirley Mears, 16 The open-air baths at Whitehall Road, Canterbury, had been closed to swimmers since the war - and the pool at Kingsmead did not open until 1970. There was a long campaign for an alternative as this 'Kingsmead Lido' float demonstrates in the carnival in August 1954 Fire at the Ritz Cinema in Maidstone in January 1954 The aftermath of the cinema blaze
In May 1954, Roger Bannister became the first person to break the four-minute mile. The current world record, set in 1999, is only 16 seconds faster.
The best-selling single of the year was Secret Love by Doris Day.
In April, Winston Churchill resigned as Prime Minister due to ill health, and his successor, Anthony Eden, won a General Election for the Conservatives a month later.
Another political titan stepped down in December as Clement Attlee resigned as Labour leader after 20 years. He was replaced by Hugh Gaitskell.
The Queen and Prince Philip were shown around the BP refinery at the Isle of Grain in April 1955. It was commissioned two years earlier and had a maximum processing capacity of 11 million tonnes of crude oil per year. It was decommissioned in 1982 Women Civil Defence volunteers from the Bridge-Blean area prepare stew in May 1955 in a compound behind the municipal buildings at Canterbury (then at Dane John) for an exercise involving 50 men. It was served in a gravel pit at Bigberry Woods, Chartham Hatch Where Rochester joins Chatham in New Road - a view from 1955 Traders in Week Street, Maidstone, became so exasperated at the time road repairs were taking in 1955 that they use the holes as places to plant trees, flowers and vegetables Whitstable High Street in 1955 The Queen Mother and the Duchess of Gloucester spent four hours touring the WRAF Station at Hawkinge in July 1955. Among the cadets they met were four pioneers of the Burmese Women's Air Force who were training at the site Building Deal Pier in 1955. It opened two years later. Picture: Terry Scott / Deal Library Nurses attending a patient in St Barts Hospital, Rochester, in 1955 Freeman Hardy Willis shoe shop in Sevenoaks High Street in 1955 Work begins on the new bus station site in St George's Lane, Canterbury, in May 1955 A boy is 'bumped' during a Beating the City Bounds ceremony in Canterbury in September 1955, watched by pupils from the Girls' Technical School In February 1955, the David Greig building won architects Robert Paine and Partners a RIBA Bronze Medal even though when it opened two years earlier the Archbishop, Dr Geoffrey Fisher, described it as a monstrosity. It is now home to Superdrug
In September, ITV was launched - finally giving viewers an alternative channel to watch.
Within a few years, it was taking 70% of the BBC's audience thanks to popular programmes like Opportunity Knocks and Sunday Night at the London Palladium.
It wasn't a great start to Anthony Eden's premiership, as he plummeted in the polls.
Then came the Suez Crisis, which resulted in petrol rationing due to blockades in the Middle East.
A portable TV, run by a 12-volt battery, provided entertainment for fruit pickers at Selling in July 1956 In a year dominated by the Suez Crisis, Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden visited West Malling Royal Air Force station in 1956 to present a trophy to No 500 (County of Kent ) squadron, Royal Auxiliary Force The Medway Towns gave a warm welcome to Queen Elizabeth II in October 1956 when she came to celebrate the centenary of the current corps of the Royal Engineers, of which she is Colonel-in-Chief The lifeboatmen of Walmer lined up to welcome the Queen Mother when she arrived at the station to present a certificate to mark its centenary in May 1956. The same day she opened an accommodation block at the Royal Marines Depot at Deal A bad day for business in Earl Street, Maidstone, in 1956 In August 1956, Maidstone gave the Freedom of the Borough to Kent's Royal Air Force Bomber squadron 500 A relaxed group of families enjoying themselves in 1956 at Penenden Heath - which was once the site of Maidstone's public hangings! Lympne Airport in 1956, celebrating the 50,000th passenger to Paris. Picture: Eileen English
In a sign of how long the battle against pollution has been fought, in July, Parliament passed the Clean Air Act in response to the Great Smog of 1952.
It allowed the introduction of ‘smoke control areas’ in towns and cities in which only smokeless fuels could be burned.
Kent was struck by two disasters in 1957.
In November, a blaze broke out at Oakwood Hospital in Maidstone, resulting in the deaths of three firemen.
And the following month, two packed commuter trains collided outside Lewisham railway station, killing 90 people - most of whom were from Kent - and leaving 176 injured.
Three firemen were among the six people killed and 15 badly hurt when a 120-foot ventilating shaft collapsed at Oakwood Hospital in Maidstone in the early hours of November 29, 1957. The tower collapse came after a fire broke out at the mental hospital. Some 350 patients were evacuated. Pictured is the funeral procession through the town The tower at Oakwood Hospital collapsed on the firemen after the blaze had been extinguished A triple rail disaster at Lewisham railway station involving two trains from Kent left 92 people dead in December 1957 The official opening of Ashford bypass was recorded with great pomp and ceremony in July 1957 Workmen uncover the signage for the new bypass Lilian and Ron Crisp behind the bar of the Bell & Crown pub in Canterbury in 1957. Picture Rory Kehoe Telephone House, Canterbury, in May 1957. On the left, reported the Kentish Gazette, is the electronic multiplying punch - a version of the so-called electronic brain - and on the right the tabulator which processes the accounts The Duke of Edinburgh toured Reed Paper Group's site at Aylesford in April 1957. He is seen here talking to an operator in the stitching machine room at Medway Paper Sacks Just like any other family on a fun day out, The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh took their children Prince Charles and Princess Anne to the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway in April 1957 The Gibraltar Hotel in Chatham in September 1957 The Pelican public house in Strood in 1957 Dover Cricket at Crabble Cricket ground in 1957. Picture: Lambert Weston (Dover) Ray Warner The Medway Queen in 1957. One of the last of a great tradition of steamers, it took part in the evacuation of British troops from Dunkirk in 1940 and later became the subject of extensive conservation efforts Grosvenor Street in Tunbridge Wells in 1957 A scene from the Kent hopfields in 1957, including George and Sylvia Hadley from Dover. Picture: Bill Richards Bridge over the river in Tonbridge in July 1957
The year was barely a week old when Anthony Eden resigned due to ill health. Fellow Conservative Harold Macmillan became Prime Minister.
At the end of June, the "Asian flu" pandemic hit the UK, resulting in the deaths of up to 33,000 people.
Meanwhile, Elvis Presley got his first UK number one single, with All Shook Up.
The King continued to storm the charts, with Jailhouse Rock the biggest-selling single of 1958.
Meanwhile, the "hula hoop craze" was in full flow, with 25 million plastic hoops sold worldwide in just four months.
The hula hoop craze got under way in Canterbury in October 1958 with a demonstration at the Odeon cinema in The Friars (now the Marlowe Theatre). Girls swayed hoops round their bodies to the music of the 20-piece Old Age Pensioner's skiffle group imported from America Chatham Dockyard workers cycling home after a day's work in February 1958 Lunchtime in the BP canteen on the Isle of Grain, taken in 1958. Picture: British Petroleum Co Ltd Canterbury on an August Bank Holiday with through traffic heading for the coastal resorts in 1958 The crowded beach in Margate in June 1958 Ramsgate seafront in 1958 Hartsdown Secondary School, Margate, in 1958 Members of staff of the Kent Messenger Group outside its new premises in Station Road, Maidstone, in 1958 Parked cars in St Margaret's Street, then one-way, illustrated problems over parking in Canterbury city centre in 1958. The gap on the left, then being used as a car park, was the site of the blitzed Royal Fountain Hotel The Beehive, pictured at the junction of Week Street and Union Street in March 1958, was one of those marvellous shops that sold almost everything
In February, the government announced plans to close the 300-year-old naval dockyards at Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey. It would result in more than 2,500 workers losing their jobs.
With the growing popularity of cars resulting in traffic-snarled streets, this was also the year that the first parking meters were introduced in the UK.
By 1959, more than 30% of households had their own car - and work was underway on the Dartford Tunnel.
And in a further indication of how the times were changing for transport, steam engines in east Kent were replaced with new electric trains.
The end of an era in 1959 as a steam train arrives at Canterbury East - in the year the London to Dover line was electrified The first electric train to run in east Kent returned to Canterbury East station after a trial trip to Selling in April 1959. The full service began in June. Note the spire of St Andrew's Presbyterian Church (since demolished) in the background The Dartford Tunnel pictured under construction during the early stages of building in 1959. It opened to traffic four years later Southern Auto's revolutionary open-plan motor service station showroom opened in Rose Lane, Canterbury, in May 1959. To mark the occasion, Jack Warner - the first 'customer' - arrived there in Chitty Bang Bang, once the pride of Count Zabrowski's fleet of racing cars. Here, Jack Warner poses in the car outside the Chaucer Hotel. Count Zabrowski, who raced for Mercedes, used to live at Highland Court, Bridge. It was there that he built the car made famous by the film it inspired A rapid thaw of snow followed by rain caused flooding at The Causeway in Canterbury in January 1959. Workmen demolished bridge parapets to build a bulwark of sandbags to contain the water The historic signing of the London overspill agreement in 1959 was made by Ashford urban council chairman Cllr Charles Thomas. It saw many families relocate from the capital to the new housing estates springing up around the town - a trend that continues to this day Saturday morning shoppers in Gravesend's open-air market in February 1959 Typical Saturday morning scene in Gravesend market in 1959 Maidstone Technical High School for Boys - one of many that later underwent name changes - moved to its new home at Oakwood Park, Tonbridge Road, in 1959 The Haynes Brothers premises was the key feature of the Week Street-King Street-Gabriels Hill-High Street junction in Maidstone in 1959 Dartford's Marks and Spencer pictured in 1959. Picture: Rachael Cokayne-Staniforth Crowds line the St Lawrence Ground for Cricket Week in August 1959, when Kent battled with Hampshire and Derbyshire 'Sub-standard' property in Union Street, Canterbury, was torn down in February 1959 as part of the city council's largest slum clearance scheme Sevenoaks High Street in 1959 A view of the new GEC flourescent street lighting installation in Seal Road, Sevenoaks, in July 1959. Picture: The General Electric Co Ltd
While the USA had Elvis, we had Cliff Richard, who had the top-selling single of the year with Living Doll.
1959 was also the year the Noise Abatement Society was established.
Here are some more pictures from the 1950s in Kent.
We don't have specific dates for these in our archive - but each one still has a story to tell about the decade.
The 1950s and 60s saw tremendous building programmes, although not all the dreams of better lifestyles were to come true. Maidstone changed as much as anywhere. This picture shows the Shepway Estate nearing completion The heart of Maidstone in the 1950s, dominated by Rootes factory, with County Hall prominent in the background and the Maidstone & District bus depot in the foreground Maidstone Electricity Works in the 1950s, part of a heavily-industrialised area at Fairmeadow Carmelite Friars in procession at Aylesford in the early 1950s A 1950s picture of one of the pageants which were a feature of the life in Lenham Cars had to give way to cattle at milking time in Hollingbourne in this 1950s scene The end of a great tradition was looming in the 1950s as technology came to hop picking. Most farms, like this one in Goudhurst, eventually ended up with machines to handle the hops Traditional farming was maintained at the Isle of Grain in the mid-1950s, when a giant BP refinery was well into production Every vehicle for itself at the foot of Star Hill, Rochester, in the 1950s! One of the most successful organisations for youngsters was the Kent Messenger Keg Megs Club, which was launched in 1928 and ran for more that 50 years. As well as giving members a good time, the Keg Megs raised thousands of pounds for charity, especially hospitals. This was the scene at a 1950s gathering in Maidstone British Red Cross members checking on the health of hoppers at Tutsham Hall, East Farleigh, in the 1950s
Here you can see more classic pictures of Kent in the
1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.