1957 declared as Britain’s happiest year of the last century

Children in River Wensum at Fakenham in 1957. Picture Archant Library.

Children in River Wensum at Fakenham in 1957. Picture Archant Library. - Credit: Archant

Harold Macmillan's 1957 declaration that Britons had 'never had it so good' appears to have been true as research has revealed that it was the happiest year of the 20th century.

A line-up of goatlings for judging at the Wayland show in 1957. Picture Archant Library.

A line-up of goatlings for judging at the Wayland show in 1957. Picture Archant Library. - Credit: Archant

Scientists at the University of Warwick used an algorithm to measure the nation's happiness in every year since 1776, through the use of eight million books, and found that other than a period in the nineteenth century, the British people have never been happier than they were in 1957.

The algorithm detects the happiness of the country at any time in history by analysing the frequency of positive words such as 'peaceful' and 'enjoyment' compared to negative words such as 'stress' and 'unhappy'.

People
Bellringers at St. Giles' Church in Norwich in 1957. Picture Archant Library.

People Bellringers at St. Giles' Church in Norwich in 1957. Picture Archant Library. - Credit: Archant

The research found that despite the fact people worked longer hours than they do now and many people did not have central heating, there was a sense amongst the nation in 1957 that things were getting better in the country following the end of the Second World War.

It also showed a rise in happiness after 1945, a fall through the nationwide strikes and inflation of 1978's Winter of Discontent, and then a recovery but happiness levels have never reached the heights the 1950s.

1957 Diss carnival. Picture Archant Library.

1957 Diss carnival. Picture Archant Library. - Credit: Archant


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10 things which happened in 1957

• Norwich City Council became the first British local authority to install a computer with the delivery of a Elliot 405.

Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visit Royal Show in 1957. Picture Archant Library.

Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visit Royal Show in 1957. Picture Archant Library. - Credit: Archant

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• End of petrol rationing following the Suez Crisis.

• USSR launched Sputnik I, the world's first artificial Earth satellite.

Guides planting tree at Raveningham Hall in 1957. Picture Archant Library.

Guides planting tree at Raveningham Hall in 1957. Picture Archant Library.

• The 'Toddlers' Truce', a controversial television closedown between 6pm and 7pm so children could be put to bed, was abolished.

• The first Premium Bond winners were selected by the computer ERNIE.

Hopton school children enjoying play time in March 1957. Picture Archant Library.

Hopton school children enjoying play time in March 1957. Picture Archant Library.

• Publication of the Wolfenden report recommended that 'homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence'.

• The government unveils plans which will allow women to join the House of Lords for the first time.

People enjoy river cruise in July 1957. Picture Archant Library.

People enjoy river cruise in July 1957. Picture Archant Library.

• Future members of The Beatles, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, first meet as teenagers at a garden fete in Liverpool.

• Harry Belafonte reached Christmas number one with the song Mary's Boy Child.

Heavy traffic on Prince of Wales Road in Norwich. Picture Archant Library.

Heavy traffic on Prince of Wales Road in Norwich. Picture Archant Library.

• The Royal Christmas Message is broadcast on television with the Queen on camera for the first time.

What is your favourite year in history? Let us know by commenting below.

Dutch crew man in Great Yarmouth in 1957. Picture Archant Library.

Dutch crew man in Great Yarmouth in 1957. Picture Archant Library.

GREAT YARMOUTH HIPPODOME CIRCUS
ELEPHANTS. Picture Archant Library.

GREAT YARMOUTH HIPPODOME CIRCUS ELEPHANTS. Picture Archant Library.

Dancing troupe, their banners read "The Resorts that have Everything"
Picture most probably taken in

Dancing troupe, their banners read "The Resorts that have Everything" Picture most probably taken in Great Yarmouth. Picture Archant Library.

Picture shows Ove Fundin and Geoff Pymar riding at Norwich in 1957.
For EN
Copy: Derek James. Pictur

Picture shows Ove Fundin and Geoff Pymar riding at Norwich in 1957. For EN Copy: Derek James. Picture Archant Library.

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