How much did life cost in 1974?

Co-op food advert from April 1974

1974 might seem like a lifetime ago when looking back at the first days of Bedford Borough Council 50 years ago. But if it is a strain on the memory, how much of a strain was life on your pocket?

There was unhappiness among motorists according to April 1974’s Bedfordshire Times, as the cost of two hours’ parking in council car parks was doubling – to 10p for two hours. This was also a time when petrol cost an eye-watering £4 per gallon.

And the property sections of the newspapers make for even more striking reading. An advertisement from T&E Homes was urging would-be home-owners to act quickly, as their new three-bedroom properties in Oakley Chase, Oakley, would sell out fast for the princely sum of £9,195.

Meanwhile Allott & Barnard in Harpur Street were advertising their own selection of homes. A two-bedroom flat in Goldington’s Heron Heights was available for £8,350; a modern three-bedroom semi in Queens Park would set you back £9,450; £14,500 would buy you a “centrally-heated” two-bedroom home in Pavenham; and a five-bedroom 1930s house in De Parys Avenue was on the market for £29,950.

Once you had your home you might want to settle down for something to eat, and the Co-Op in Midland Road was offering some tasty prices according to their full-page advertisement. A “1st quality oven-ready” mini-turkey cost just 33p per lb, pork leg steaks were 39p per lb, and a large packet of Wondermash – featuring “real pieces of mashed potato” – was just 13p.

You could wash that down with 8oz of Co-Op brand instant coffee - just 48p in April 1974. And for dessert you could choose between 135g of Rowntree’s Jelly (6 1/2p), a packet of trifle mix for 15p, or a packet of McVitie’s Milk Chocolate Home Wheat Biscuits for 17 1/2p.

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