London In The Swinging 60s

(40 customer reviews)

BBC Broadcasting House London W1A 1AA - nearest tube Oxford Circus

Guided by Adam

Walk Times

Day Walk Type Start Time End Time
30 May 2024 Weekly 10.45 am 12.45 pm Summer
27 June 2024 Weekly 10.45 am 12.45 pm Summer Reserve Online
25 July 2024 Weekly 10.45 am 12.45 pm Summer Reserve Online
22 August 2024 Weekly 10.45 am 12.45 pm Summer Reserve Online
19 September 2024 Weekly 2 pm 4 pm Summer Reserve Online
17 October 2024 Weekly 2 pm 4 pm Summer Reserve Online

“Sexual intercourse began 

In nineteen sixty-three…

Between the end of the “Chatterley” ban

And the Beatles first LP.”

Phillip Larkin, Annus Mirabilis 1967 (pub. 1974)

 

This tour contains frequent and explicit references to recreational drug use and sex. There are also descriptions of scenes of a violent nature.

 

 

Swinging London

London’s achievements in music and fashion during the early 1960s reverberated around the world…

This walking tour pays tribute to – and then goes beyond – those achievements. The ground-breaking pop music of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, as well as the game-changing work of fashion designer Mary Quant form our backdrop. But we will also take a trip beyond in to architecture, politics, spying, scandal, drugs and sex.

Swinging through two London neighbourhoods, we’ll zoom-in on the period 1962 to 1969. From the polite early 1960s to the days of the hippies, we’ll capture the city dubbed by Time Magazine in 1966 as Swinging London. Travelling from from the coldest winter on record (this wouldn’t be England if we didn’t talk about the weather!) to the shimmering Summer of Love.

England Swings…

East End gangsters are rubbing shoulders (and more) with peers of the realm; in Soho they’re sloshing Coca Cola into perfectly good Scotch; they’re dropping their T’s at the BBC and pillars of the Conservative establishment are dropping their drawers in shabby Marylebone mews flats.

Meanwhile, pop singers are invited to Buckingham Palace to meet The Queen.

Boys’ hair is long, miniskirts are short and to be “Far Out” is to be “In”.

The old emblems of Empire can be acquired and worn for a couple of bob* in the new-fangled “boutiques” of Chelsea and Carnaby Street. The Union Jack suddenly adorns everything from plastic bags to the cover of Vogue magazine. And presiding over it all, a portly little socialist from the provincial North.

Somewhere over the wonderful Day-Glo rainbow of Swinging London, we’ll find both the most mythologised, and the most misunderstood period of the 20th century. And we will ask… was it all the work of “Third-rate minds in a third-rate decade**”? Or was it truly One Brief Shining Moment?

(*Translation: Bob was the old slang word for a shilling which is about 5p in modern money.)

(**Quote from Conservative politician Norman Tebbit.)

Cast Of Characters

In just two hours, Twiggy, Barbara Hulaniki and Jean Shrimpton will revolutionise the way we look; photographers David Bailey and Terence Donovan will capture the visuals; we’ll follow Mick Jagger as he struts from boutique to street riot and Mary Quant as she proves once-and-for-all that less most definitely is more. We’ll encounter Groovy Bob, the Old Etonian art dealer who counted working-class Paul McCartney among his clients.

At the hub of our story, two women and one man whose intertwined lives will change the morality of Britain forever and bring a Conservative government crashing down – Christine Keeler, Mandy Rice Davies and John Profumo. The so-called Profumo Affair, and the attendant sexual shenanigans reported in the newspapers, shocked Britain. This story was as seismic in the life of ordinary British people as Vietnam and riots were in America.

From LsD (which until the 1960s stood for Pounds, Shillings and Pence) to LSD (that’s Lysergic Acid Diathylamide) our scandalous tour is awash with money and drugs… is it too late to issue a content warning for this walk?

In terms of the social history of 20th Century Britain, we’ll stroll through a kaleidoscopic period where the boundaries between working-class and upper-class became porous in a way never seen before or since. We’ll also trace the origins of 21st Century gentrification and piece together the ingredients that went in to the Molotov cocktail of the youth culture explosion.

Let Me Take You Down…

The two West End neighbourhoods we will visit are…

Side One: Marylebone… to see the little back street where 13 years of Conservative government collapsed amid a scandal of sex, lies and spying; we’ll also get a view of a modern architectural and communications wonder rising to dwarf St Paul’s on the London skyline, like a vast, grey middle finger “saluting” the old order; and we’ll watch as pirates board the BBC.

Side Two: Mayfair… where the class system is challenged as working class girls from Neasden and boys from Dartford cosy up with Old Etonians and where protestors rampaged in the streets of sleepy London Town.

Politics, Drugs & Showbiz

We’ll span the political spectrum from the Labour government’s decriminalisation of homosexuality, legalisation of abortion and abolition of hanging to Enoch Powell’s infamous Rivers Of Blood speech. As Harold and Ted look on we’ll meet everyone from Mick and Keith to Ron and Reg.

Drugs, the law, fashion, media, politics, race, architecture, class, society, showbiz, protest, music and sex…

If you can remember the 60s… you weren’t there. 

If you can’t remember the 60s… join this NEW walking tour.

This tour ends at the Jimi Hendrix Blue Plaque in Brook Street, Mayfair. The closest Tube to the end point is Bond Street.

Adam writes…

Hello everyone, I’m looking forward to welcoming you back to Swinging London on this walking tour. It’s one of my favourite periods in London’s story. From the pop music of the period to the fashions, from politics to literature and media, I have studied and written about the swinging sixties since my student days in the 1980s. I wrote my dissertation on the playwright Joe Orton and changing British society. I’ve had such fun this past year-or-so bringing the stories to life on this walking tour – it’s been particularly pleasing to hear so many reminiscences from you guys on the tour. Having said that, it is the only one of my tours for which I issue a “content warning” – there will be repeated and explicit discussion of sex and drug taking throughout the tour. Then again, perhaps that’s the reason why you’re joining me? This is not a tour for prudes… but if you’re feeling like a cultural adventurer, then I can’t wait to reveal the kinks and quirks of two of the West End’s otherwise most subtle neighbourhoods. Perhaps there’s a sequel to be written – would you join me for a wander down the King’s Road next year?

Happy walkers in a most unusual (but theme-specific) bar with guide Adam after the tour!

And here’s another reason [David speaking here] you should go on it:

40 reviews for London In The Swinging 60s

  1. Caroline Kerr

    Thank you for a fabulous tour, well structured, entertaining and informative.

  2. Diane

    We’re huge fans of London Walks and this one did not disappoint. Adam is very engaging and has lots of great stories. Being of a certain age we remember the 60’s and this walk brought it all to life. Many thanks Adam for a super morning’s entertainment and introducing us to some parts of London we had never been. Highly recommend.

  3. Sue

    Clear joining instructions and photo/audio links emailed before walk. Prompt and efficient start. Brilliant walk with courteous follow up.

  4. Jane and Ken Niles

    Swinging in the 60s was the most entertaining walk – Adam is so knowledgeable and funny! If we had time, we’d take a London Walk or two every day. We’ll be back!

  5. Richard

    A great walk including some hidden away mews where significant political and entertaining events happened in the 60s. Adam an excellent and witty guide made it all come to life.

  6. Christine Notley

    We have been lucky to have Adam twice now on our trips, ‘London in the Swinging 60’s and the ‘Beatles tour. I must say that Adam really makes each trip entertaining with his extensive knowledge and his little speaker where he matches music with the stories he tells. I am now looking for walks that he is involved in. Well done Adam.

  7. Linda Lake

    Thank you Adam . Really enjoyed this excellent and informative walk. The links sent before and afterwards added a lot to the experience.

  8. Robert Davidson

    Excellent walk. Adam did a great job of describing the places and evoking the era. He sent us a pdf with pictures of the people he discussed and played some of the sounds of the 60s at various stops. I discovered interesting places along this walk. Well done!

  9. Lynda Leyman

    Fantastic walking tour! Thoroughly enjoyed our two hours with Adam; time absolutely flew by! Adam was so knowledgeable and entertaining. I have been on many London Walks and this was definitely one of the best. Loved the music soundtrack too!

  10. Andrea

    Fascinating knowledge even to a born and bred Londoner

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