Britain 1935-1975

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Britain 1935-1975

GCSE history paper b notes includes:  

  • Immagration  
  • Youth/Teenagers 
  • Women 
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Immigration: Who Came before 1945

  • American GIs - They started arriving in Britain from 1942 onwards and were the most high profile immigrants. There were about 3 million posted all over the UK, mainly in rural locations. American GIs were very friendly and open with the public. In the British society there were huge divide lines and the classes never mixed.America was a much less class concious society and the GIs brought these values with them and mixed freely with different classes. 
  • African - American GIs - They came to Britain to get the experience of being treated like a normal person, as in America everywhere was still segregated. Unlike British who treated all races the same for a while. African Americans were treated with the same level of of respect as the White GIs by British citizens. People even criticised white Americans for the way they treated them with harsh discrimination. 
  • Commonwealth troops - They came to Britain to fight for our country as they were part of the commonwealth so were ruled by our queen therefore had to fight for us. The commonwealth troops were Canadian, Australlians, New Zealenders amd Indians, they all served in the British forces. They were welcomed to our country and there were over 40, 000 marriages between Canadian men and British women. 
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Immigration: Who Came before 1945 2

  • Prisoners of War - There were hundreds of thousands of Prisoners of war, mainly German and Italian troops captured in North Africa. There were over 1500 facillities that held Prisoners of War. Prisoners were generally treated well allocated some food rations as Allied Servicemen which was more than the civillian population at the time. The majority of prisoners worked in agriculture, helping fill the gap left by men called to service in the Armed forces. They were housed and educated by other prisoners. At the end of the war many prisoners of war stayed in Britain around (2500). 
  • Poles - The Polish people who arrived in Britain came because they managed to escape the German invasion in Poland. Around 1400 of them served in the Royal Air Force many more served in the other armed forces in Britain and other parts of its empire. Polish immigration was supported by Churchill as they helped Britain greatly in the war effort. Many Poles were encouraged to stay after World War 2 through the Polish Resettlement Scheme as there was a shortage of workers. By the end of 1948 there were 65,000 Poles that had stayed due to the scheme. They  were generally popular in Britain due to the shortage of workers. There was some tensions after the war when workers could be sacked with no compensation. 
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Immigration: Who Came 1945 - 75

Ireland - In 1945, the largest group of Immigants to Britain were Irish. There had been a lage Irish population in Britain since the 19th century so migrants were usually able to stay with networks of of family or friends and get jobs through Irish contacts including the Catholic Church. Between 1945-1960 over 350,000 Irish people came to Britain, increasing the total number of people with Irish roots in Britian to over 900, 000. 

Eastern Europe - In the years after the second World War the British government actively recruited workers from Eastern Europe, they were known as European Volutary Workers. Around 200,000 came to Britain between 1945 and early 1950. 

The Indian Subcontinent - India has been key territory for the British Empire since the 1750s so there were strong bonds with Britain. The main influx from this area came in the 1960s. These were mainly from Punjabi, Pakistan and East Pakistan (Bangladesh). 

Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore - Most of these immigrants came to Britain in the 1960s, by 1961 there were around 30, 000 in Britain. 

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Immigration: Who Came 1945 - 75 2

Africa - During the 19th Century the British transported many Indian workers to Africa. In the 1960s and 70s political unrest in in Uganda and Kenya (Africanisation) caused many Asians to flee these countries and come to Britain. By 1970 there were around 70,000 East African Asians in Britain. 

The Caribbean - There had always been students and members of the armed forces from the Carribean or West Indies as the area was usually called). However immigration from this area grew in this period. It was small scale in the 1940s and grew in the 1950s. By 1960 there were about 125,000 West Indians in Britain. 

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Immigration: Reasons for immigration

  • Make more money - many people immigrated to Briain in order to live a better life style as many jobs were better paid here than they were in their own countries. 
  • For Work - after the war Britain was in shambles so there were lots of job oppertunities for many people to help rebuild Britain so the government promoted the jobs available  
  • Policy of Africanisation - This was a policy strongly used in Kenya and Uganda it forced many Eastern Africans to either become citizens or leave the country so many people were foced to leave they then came to Britain as they had heard of the experiences of equality and also Africa was still part of the British Empire so they trusted it to move to 
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Immigration: Immigrant Experiences

Immigration to Britain was not planned process. Individuals took different approaches to immigration and had different motives and experiences when they arrived. Many of the early Jamaican immigrants remembered being welcomed especially those who were servicemen who fought with the British during the Second World War. 

This however was not the experience of most immigrants to Britain. Almost upon arrival immagrants found they were up against the 'colour bar'. It was difficult to get accomodation. Signs saying 'No blacks, No dogs' were common in boarding houses where they tried to find rooms. Many local councils were also unhelpful;  immigrants were made to wait 5 years before being allowed to apply for coucil housing. When they did find accomodation it was usually a room in a house often cramped and usually expensive. They therefore had to find whatever accomodation they could and were therefore open to exploitation. One of the most notorious landlords who owned over 100 properties in London was Peter Rachman and most were packed with immagrants paying high rent for poor accomodation. Anyone who complained faced a beating from one of Rachmans men. 

All Commonwealth immigrants suffered from discrimination in housing and there were many other limits on their freedom aswell. They would often find that they were'nt welcome in bars restaurants and dance halls because the owners feared troubl. They also faced accusations that they were simply in Britain for the generous benefits system. this was a stupid claim since most immigrants were working and therefore not claiming any benefits. 

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Immigration: Immigrant Experiences 2

The same prejudices were found in the workplace. The trade unions were extremely unhappy about immigrant workers. They saw immigants as potential competitors for jobs. In 1955 transport workers in Wolverhampton, West Bromwich and Bristol went on strike to protest about the 'increasing number of coloured workers'  (in the case of West Bromwich this meant one Indian bus driver). 

In 1958 the Trade Unions Congress passed a resolution calling for an end to all immigrant workers entering the country. In one factory in the Midlands, white workers demanded seperate toliet facilities from Sikh workers. More than half the West Indians in London in the late 1950s were over qualified for the job that they were doing. 

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Immigration: A Vicious Cycle

It could be said that Immigrants were trapped in a vicous cycle because:

  • Most immigrants found it hard to get housing - they can only afford cheap housing

This means..

  •  Immigrants usually ended up live near to each other - many people move to be near family or friends so immigrant communities began to form in Moss Side and Nottinghill 


  • They ended up not intergrating - creating more job competition in this area and rumours began to spread that many immigrants were involved in drugs and crime, so more people e.g. Oswald -Mesely become anti-immigrant - 'keep Britain white' 

Because of these anti immigrant ideas they then found it hard to find housing leading to the start of the cycle  again. 

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Immigration: Government Action 1959-76

1959 - The Notting Hill Riots of 1958 bought the issue of immigration to the forefront of politics. The 1959 election saw a number of MPs determined to raise the issue of immigration to office. PM Cyrill Osborne used the slogan 'keep Britain white'

1962 - Commonwealth Act passed - this introduced a voucher system that restricted immigration. Only those with skill or could do a job that had a shortage of UK workers would be considered to enter the UK. This unofficially aimed at restricting immigrants from the New Commonwealth that were largely unskilled. 

1964 - The labour party criticised the act but when it came to power in 1964 PM Harold Wilson limited the number of immigrants to 8500 per year. By this time race and immigration were very sensitive issues and were at the forefront of British politics.

1965 - 1966 - Race Relations Act passed - this made it illegal to discriminate against any person because of colour or race. Race Relations Board created in 1966 to deal with complaints. Non of the public really take this act into acount as many respected people didn't follow or enforce this law.

1967  - National Front founded. This was an openly racist party and was created in reaction to the arrival of Kenyan Asains to Britain. The partys aims were to stop immigration and send immigrants back to their countries. It was against the mixing of white & non white communinties

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Immigration: Government Action 1959-76 2

1968 - After the arrival of Kenyan Asians the government reacted to the new arrival of immigrants by passing the Commonwealth Immigrants Act in March 1968. This act restricted access to Britain for new commonwealth immigrants whilst allowing white commonwealth countries such as Canada or New Zealand. Conservative MP Enoch Powell made the famous Rivers of Blood speech on the 20th of April 1968 he claimed British people felt threatened and overwhelmed by immigration, he warned there would be rivers of blood if action wasn't taken. Enoch was then sacked and the labour gov passed a new race relations act. This made discriminationvin areas such as housing and employment illegal. However employers could still indirectly discriminate by claiming other candidates were more skilled or had more relevant experience.

1971 - Another Commonwealth act was passed in response to the arival of Ugandan Asians in 1968. It had the same measures as the act of 1968 but allowed partials (people who had been born in Britain or lived here for over 5 years) the right to settle in Britain. 

1976 - The Government passed the Racial equality Act. This made racially offensive music or publications illegal it also set up tribunals so that any job applicant who felt that he/she was suffering from discrimination could report the employer. The act also set up the commision for racial equality to investigate racism. On the one hand this was another positive move for Britain however on the other hand it showed that earlier measures had still not eradicated racism from Briain 

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Immigration: Immigrant contributions

The Economy - Many immigrants came to Britain to earn money to send home or earn money for themselves. This resulted in them being willing to take any jobs on offer and work until they were successful. Moth wanted to get promotions or start their own businesses, thet also wanted to get enough money to buy nice houses in nice areas. Many immigrants understood the need for hardwork and good education. When many Asain immigrants arrived in Britain in the 1960s many couldnt get jobs to match their qualifications. For example Sir Anwar Pervez from Pakistan came to Britain at 21 to open a corner shop and now the company is worth £227million. 

Public Services - Individuals from immigrant communities have made large contributions to British life for example Sybil Pheonix. Sybil arrived in Britain in 1956. She first stayed in a leaking basement. She was an orphan so wanted to help other orphans. She became a foster parent and gave homes to 100 children. In 1971 she was an MBE and in 1973 she became mayoress. 

Other Contributions - Gurkahs had been a part of the British Army for almost 200 years. The Gurkahs have loyalty towards the British Army and have been awarded many Victoria Crosses between them. More than 200,000 Gurkahs fought in the first and second World Wars. They have served in a variety of roles mainly in the infantry. Gurkahs are soldiers from Nepal. 

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Immigration: Cultural Contributions

Food and Drink - One of the biggest effects of immigration has been eating habbits. Italian immigrants bought coffee beans, ice cream parlours and restaurants. The British also coud not hav enough of curry and chinese food. By 1976 there were 2000 Indian restaurants and a similar number of Chinese. Immigrants adopted these cusines to British tastes. 

Religion - Immigrants from India bought there Hindu and Muslim faiths with them and laid the foundations of a multicultural Britain. They also proved Enoch Powell wrong. There were still tensions between communities but most people started to celebrate religious festivals together. 

Music - Afro-Carribeans had the biggest impact on music and dance. They introduced us to reggae, steel drums, calypso and dancing. Reggae music became mainstream. It was used for protest messages such as soul and motown during the civil rights movement.

The Notting hill carnival - This is the largest festival in Europe and started in 1964. It was a way for Afro-Caribeans communities to celebrate there origins and culture. It takes place every August bank holiday. At the roots of the carnival are the Carribean carnivals of the early 19th century - A strong tradition in Trinidad which cellebrated the abollition of slavery.  

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Immigration: Timeline of Immigration

  • 1840s - 60s onwards - Irish immigrants 
  • 1839 - 1945 - West Indians, Canadians, Americans, Indians & Africans - all fought in WW2                             Germans and Italians - prisoners of war of Jewish children by Kindertransport 
  • 1948 - 1955 - West Indians - came on Windrush                                                                                         Polish encouraged to stay for work 
  • 1950s - 60s - Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshies - Came to Britain due to fighting and                             chaos after in the dependance and partition
  • 1970s - Eastern Asian Africans (from Uganda and Kenya mainly) - President Amin of Uganda                and Kenyan authorities persecute Indian migrants 
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Youth: Children in World War 2

  • Families were seperated with many homes becoming parent families when men went to war 
  • Mothers sometimes went to live in the countryside as well as their children 
  • Evacuation was arranged by the womens auxillary services in church halls 
  • Children of 10 usually found seperation upsetting as they weren't sure how long they'd be away 
  • Many children don't understand magnitude of the war - saw air raids and gas mask drills as fun
  • Schools began providing students with milk and hot diners to help mothers who were doing war work 
  • Air Raids - The Blitz led to children having to congregate in council and private shelters through the night. Many children were killed during this between 1940 - 42 
  • There was little to eat until the Americans came in 1941 
  • Schooling was often interupted by the war and many urban schools closed
  • 50% of city children are educated - petty crime increases e.g. vandalism and stealing due to boredom
  • In countryside half days of schooling often take place
  • Rationing effects many childrens health
  • Lots of children suffered from emotional issues
  • Some childrens health improved from the war as those who lived in poorer areas when evacuated generally ate healthier food and lived in a better environment  
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Youth: The 50's

Growing up in the 50s was hard, most of Britain were still recovering from bomb damage caused by the war, many places were being rebuilt. Britain also had to try to rebuild its economy, however because of the war Britain felt insecure so the government spent alot of the countries wealth on arms. Food rationing didn't end until 1945. 

Int the 1950s the teenager was created - they wore different clothes to their paremts, met in coffee bars and listened to new music, like Rock'n'Roll, Jazz and Blues which was influenced by America. American films like 'Rebel without a cause' 1955, dramatised the growing gap between teenagers and their parents. Different groups were created, identified by what they wore, like the Mods and Rockers. A few gangs were formed but teenagers wanted to rebel not be violent. Whereas before this many young people were the same as their parents they wore similar clothes, went to the same schools as parents. They followed many of the same routines such as going to church on Sundays, visiting relatives, listening to the same music and dances. 

These changes confounded parents, who had just been through the war to protect their children, who were now turning away from them. However not all youths were the same. 

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Youth: What was it like to be a teen in the 60s

Teenage Consumers - As a group teenagers spent £800million per year on themselves, mainly on clothes and entertainment. Many businesses relied on teenage customers e.g. cinemas, dance halls and magazines. Teenagers bought over a third of all bicycles and motorbikes as well as cosmetics and film tickets. Portable radios were a particularly popular allowing teenagers to listen to their favourite radio stations and music. New man-made fabrics contributed to new fashions of the 1960s which made clothes more affordable. Girls also made their own dresses. 

Music - In the 1940s/50s music was created for the whole family to listen to but this changed in the 60s. Small bands of men and women begun writing songs e.g The Beatles, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones and The Who. Some bands had more controversial lyrics like the Stones who sang about drugs and sex. The demand for music led to the pirate radio station 'radio Caroline'. It was closed down by the government and replaced by Radio 1 that was launched in 1967. 

Fashion - Teenagers spent money on new fashions such as designers like Mary Quant. She sent up a clothes boutique called Bazaar. By 1966 she was creating over 500 designs a year and sales of over 6 million. The most famous design was the mini skirt. Her designs were expensive so soon they copied and made for the high street. Famous models at the time were twiggy and Jean Shrimpton. They were photographed wearing space age style dresses and fabrics and did not emphasise curves. 

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Youth: What was it like to be a teen in the 60s 2

Rebellion - In the 1960s teenagers now had the time, money and confidence to be different and rebel. Traditional figures of authority were questioned e.g. the queen, Prime minister. John Lennon also controversially that the beatles were 'bigger than Jesus'. This showed the decline in the status of the church in society. Films were created to challenge the traditional views of good behaviour such as West Side Story, which showed gangs as cool. The film also mocked authorities and the police. 

Sex - The 1960s is seen as the start of a sexual revolution. Teenagers were bigger and healthier than earlier in the century so becam more sexually mature at an earlier age. Improvements in medicine led to the contraceptive pill and antibiotics, which meant common STDs were treated quickly. The contraceptive pill wasn't availabe until 1964 and was at first only given to married women. This challenged the idea of of youths being sex mad and promiscuous. The media focused on the exploits of musicians and other celebrities, which gave the impression young people were sex mad 

Education - also changed with the introduction of comprehensive schools from 1965 and the expansion of universities 50,000 students in 1939 to 390,000 by the end of the 1960s.Many students in the 60s became involved in protests for example against the Vietnam War [1968], and against Nuclear Weapons. They staged peaceful ‘sit ins’ although these sometimes turned violent. The lives of teenagers changed dramatically by the mid 1970s

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Youth: Mods VS Rockers


  • Early 60s - Middle class, dressed smartly, Listed to Jazz
  • By 1964 - Become largely working class as fashion becomes more affordable, preffered Rhythm and blues (R&B), saw themselves as sophisticated and they rode scooters.


they were majority working class, rode big motorbikes, wore leather jackets, listened to rock and were seen as more aggresive. 

 Mods [scooters and suits] and Rockers [motorbikes and leather] fought at British Seaside resorts such as Margate in 1964. 100 teenagers were arrested in Brighton. The newspapers were horrified but there was little actual violence. The media often exagerated this to turn the public against teenagers. 

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Women: How did the War Affect Women?

All women aged twenty or older had to register for war work at labour exchange, unless they were ill or pregnant or had small children. By 1945 80% of married and 90% of single women were either working in industry or the forces. Women also took a key role in evacuation. During the war there were 60million changes of address registered. On the whole it was women who had to organise and cope with the enormous movement of people from the cities and countryside to avoid German bombing. Women also became involoved in the war effort by becoming air-raid wardens, fire officers and joined the armed services at home and over seas. By 1943 over 443, 000 women were in the armed forces in branches such as ATs, WAAF and WRNS. The mobilisation of women was so widespread that the novelty of women doing 'mens jobs' quickly war off as it was a necessary part of fighting the enemy in World War Two. Eight times as many women became involved in was work as during World War 1. For example in WW1 33, 000 women worked in the land army in comparison to the 2 million by 1943. One of the biggest challenges for women was juggling work and home. The majority of women had to find time to do their war work and continue to look after their families. Nurseries were then provided by the government and employers for married workers with babies. 

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Women: After the War

Employment Oppertunities -

  • After WW2 women were more able to get a job due to shortage of workers 
  • Women made up to 31% of the workforce in 1951 and this had risen to 38% by 1971 
  • Many employers liked female workers as they could pay them less than men 
  • The marriage bar collapsed - by 1971 almost 50% of married women worked 
  • Many women also returned to work after having a child - this was blamed for crime and the unruly behavior of juvenilles 


  • Many colleagues felt women were less commited to the job than men or thought they'd fall into tears upon confrontation
  • Women rarely gained promotions or management positions 
  • they were usually paid less than men for doing the same jobs 
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Women: Equal Pay

  • Some women allied with trade unions to address the issues of unequal treatment of women in the workplace 
  • From 1955 equal pay was phased in over public sectors e.g teachers 
  • There were several strikes for equal pay including at the ford motor factory in Essex 
  • Women voted in large numbers voted for the Labour party due to their promise of the sex discrimination act 
  • Labour appointed Barbra Castle as Minister of labour - she tried to get employers and unions a voluntatry scheme for equality but this failed 
  • Equal Pay act was released in 1970 

Half of all women worked by the 1970s. The number of married women in work had also doubled since the 1950s. The marriage bar was largely a thing of the past, but some women now felt under pressure to work and look after the family. Women were still generally in lower paid jobs than men. In 1968 women went on strike for equal pay at the Ford Factory in Dagenham (they eventually settled for 92%!). The Equal Pay Act of 1970 made it illegal to pay men and women differently for the same job however it was not actually enforced until 1975 with the Sex Discrimination Act. 

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Women: What Changed in Womens lives?

Contraception - Throughout 1950s researchers were working on a new form of contraception - the combined oral contraceptive pill - which controlled the womens hormone cycle to prevent conception. The first birth control pill was available in Britain in 1957. By 1961 it was approved for being dispensed under the NHS - altough you still needed a doctors perscription to get it. If used properly it was almost 100% and was controlled by women. By 1968 there were 2million women in Britain taking the pill. It was a massive step forward for womens rights. There was an obvious consequence, parents could chose how many children to have. Most married couples now had 3 children instead of large families in older generations,. After 1965 the birth rate fell. It almost gave women more sexual freedom, it also increased womens life oppertunities 

Abortion - In 1967 a concerted campaign led to parliment passing the Abortion act which became law in 1968. Abortions were available if 2 doctors agreed it was necessary, it was carried out on registered peremises and if the baby was unable to survive. Unlike in the 1960s when there was an estimate of 200, 000 illegal abortions being performed 

Divorce - The divorce Reform Act was passed in 1969, before this act you could only get a divorce if an event such as adultery was carried out. It was usually seen as the womens fault when marriage broke down. The Marimortal Property Act of 1970 recognised that a wives work was valuable and built up the wealth of the couple. This meant the women got a share of the families assets in a divorce. Until this act many women were left in poverty after a divorce. 

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The NHS was set up by Aneurin Bean the Labour health minister. The NHS was introduced as a reward/promise to soldiers who returned from world war 2 as they would get free health care and help from war injuries. Also there were 30 years of reports showing how poor British health care was so the NHS was set up to improve this. And the high morality rates especially children under 5.

Impact of the NHS 

The demand for health care under the new NHS exceeded all predictions.The huge demand showed was the nations neglected health in years before. In 1947 doctors gave out 7mill perscriptions per month. In 1951 that rose to 19mill. From the 1950s onwards the scale of and quality of treatment from the NHS improved. Between 1948 and 1973 the number of doctors doubled. Anaesthetics continued to advance, this enabled longer and more complex surgery. The work of the NHS improved the lives of millions with hip replacement operations, emergency treatment for accident victims or support in pregnancy. The NHS played an important in prevention as well as cure. By the mid 1960s government invested health education. This seemed to have rather mixed success. In general the majority of the population became healthier and lived longer.    

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The NHS: Impacts on women & children

Impact on Women: Women made up 50% of the population so they definitley benefitted from the impacts on the population as a whole. However the NHS also bought improvements which specifically benefited women. Before the NHS many women suffered ill health and couldnt get treatment. The NHS changed this. The NHS also made high quality maternity care available, this reduced the number of deaths of women in child birth as well as the likeliness of infection or post natal depression. The NHS also provided women with a range of services such as midwives and health visitors. The NHS raised life expectancy for women throughout the century. In 1870 the average age of death was 45 but by 1970 the average age of death was 76!

Impact on Children: To begin with children obviously benefited from the general benefits, but thehy particularly benefited from the fact mothers were now being cared for better. An extensive network of school medicinal services was set up including medical inspections done by school nurses. They were also set to look for and treat a wider range of illnesses which affect children. The main development made by the NHS was the vaccination against some killer diseases. These illnesses were in decline anyway due to an improving diet and living conditions. However under the NHS people got free vaccinations helping even the poorest people in society who were usually those worst effected. The thing that tells us of the impact on children of the NHS is the fall in infant mortality across the twentieth century.  

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