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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: September 2019

7 - The Sixties Liberalisation of Licensing

from Part III - The Sixties Crisis and Its Legacy 1965–1980


This chapter explores the revolution in licensing in Britain from the mid-1960s. In London, Blackpool and Glasgow, liberalisation of control of venues, leisure activities and notably music-related events, presaged the development of a youth culture accompanied by widespread access to contraception, recreational drugs (including cannabis and LSD) and sexual activity. Licensing boards tried to impose a crackdown – on coffee clubs, jukeboxes, miscegenation and illegal drinking establishments (in London, Sheffield and the Isle of Lewis). Little of this worked for long. Illegitimacy rates rose, the music revolution led in Blackpool and Sheffield to the advance of popular culture even faster in some regards than in London. Glasgow had a delay to liberalisation, but it moved rapidly from the mid-1970s to being in the cultural avant-garde. But in Lewis, a local government reorganisation led, uniquely, to home rule for Calvinism churches on the islands, triggering an attack on sexualisation and cinema for a number of decades. Provincial stories reveal different trajectories of change.