Beamish Museum reveals 1950s Christmas gift list

By Catherine Lee
BBC News

Published
image copyrightGetty Images
image caption"Please Santa, bring me a nightie case and hankie sachet to match."

Toy soldiers, a school diary and an apron were among the presents under one family's tree in the 1950s.

A list of gifts bought by the unnamed family in 1955 has been released by Beamish Museum.

And its a slightly more practical haul than might be found in today's stockings.

The outdoor museum in County Durham said the presents were typical of the time.

Children's gifts included miniature wind instruments, a paint box and a plastic fan.

image copyrightBeamish Museum
image captionWe will never know - was Bobby overjoyed with his three miniature wind instruments and chocolate cream soldiers?

Money, in the form of postal orders, also made the list. In 1955, 2/6 (two shillings and sixpence) was the equivalent of about £3 now.

Connor Emerson, from the remaking Beamish Museum project said: "Christmas in the 1950s, post-World War Two, was starting to become a bit more like it is now.

"Mass advertising was coming in, with independent television launched in 1955, although it didn't come to the North East until 1959, so we maybe trailed behind slightly."

image copyrightBeamish Museum
image captionSales of writing pads must have been brisk in the run up to this particular Christmas

It was not just presents that were different, decorations were also simpler.

Mr Emerson said: "You wouldn't have the same range of decorations, most were paper chains and ornaments like accordions which folded out.

"And you had those wire Christmas trees which looked like toilet brushes - in fact a lot were made by the same company that produced toilet brushes."

As for the daily routine, religion would have played more of a part, with many attending church in the morning, he said.

"Then when it comes to Christmas dinner that would be slightly different - in the North East you'd be more likely to have chicken as your main meat rather than turkey, because it was the easiest thing to find locally."

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionDecorations in the 1950s were less elaborate

After the chicken, the family could head off to support their local football team.

In the early 1950s, first division fixtures were played on Christmas Day - moving to Boxing Day towards the end of the decade.

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