Dallas: JFK is shot dead

Kennedy assassination

November 22: President John F Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. The world reeled in shock at the horrifying footage of the bright young husband and family man cut down by a sniper's bullets. Kennedy and his wife, Jackie, were in a motorcade heading through the Texas city when shots rang out. The president was hurled back in his seat by the impact of the bullets and the car sped away to hospital. But it was too late to save him.

At 46, he was at the peak of his popularity, a much-loved president and a superb speaker who had faced down the Russians over the Cuban Crisis and declared that West Berlin would always remain free. Earlier in the day, at Forth Worth, he had told the crowd prophetically: "This is a dangerous and uncertain world."

Lee Harvey Oswald, a former marine who had lived briefly in Russia, was quickly arrested and charged with the killing. But two days later Oswald was shot dead by a Dallas nightclub owner, Jack Ruby who was to die later in jail.

Inevitably, theories of a conspiracy took root. Although repeated inquiries have pinned the blame squarely on the lone gunman, Oswald, the assassination of President Kennedy has been variously attributed to Cubans, the Mafia and the US arms industry.

With the passing of time, the president's image became tarnished. A compulsive womaniser both he and his brother, Robert (also to be assassinated) were linked with Marilyn Monroe and even implicated in her mysterious death.

March 27: A captain of industry whose named would be forever linked with the word "axe" first came to public prominence. British Railway chairman Dr Beeching - brought in by the government as a hatchet man - proposed closing more than 2,000 stations, scrapping 8,000 coaches and getting rid of nearly 68,000 jobs. There was almost unanimous opposition and Beeching eventually got his way, even to the extent of closing down the Royal Family's favourite station on the Aberdeen to Balmoral line.

The Beatles

October 31: Dubbed by Philip Larkin the "annus mirablis" of the decade, 1963 was also the year of the Beatles and of Beatlemania. The four loveable musicians from Merseyside with their distinctive haircuts and clothes spoke to and for a generation of teenagers in a way that no other group had quite managed to do since. On this day screaming fans clogged the streets around the London Palladium to catch a glimpse of their idols. Earlier in the months they had caused traffic jams at airports and sold enough copies of She Loves You to keep it at number One for what seemed like an eternity.

June 5: Secretary of State for War John Profumo resigned at the climax - if that is the right word - of the sex scandal of the decade. The man once tipped as a future Prime Minister admitted he had lied to the House of Commons some weeks earlier about his relationship with the call girl Christine Keeler. The Profumo Affair would contribute to the end of 13 years' rule by the Tories just over 12 months later. Another victim was the London osteopath Stephen Ward - at whose flat the two lovers had met - who committed suicide on the eve of the verdict in his trial for living off immoral earnings.

August 8: In what was to become known as the crime of the century a well-organised gang hijacked a Glasgow to London train and got away with mailbags containing more than one million pounds. The Great Train Robbery took part at a secluded spot in Cheddington, Buckinghamshire, and was based on a key inside information. They left clues all over the place and were soon rounded up, caught and given jail sentences of up to 30 years each.

It made household names of small time criminal like Ronnie Biggs and Buster Edwards. But train driver Jack Mills, who was coshed repeatedly by Edwards, was to die a forgotten man a few years later never having recovered from his ordeal.


In brief

January 18: Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell died from a minor virus at the age of 56. Harold Wilson took over.

February 1: The West Midlands shivered in the grip of the big freeze in the coldest January for 125 years.

March 3: Kim Philby at last revealed as the "third man" in the Burgess and Maclean spy scandal.

March 21: The world's toughest prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay closed down.

May 1: Winston Churchill, now aged 88 and 60 years an MP, announced he would not stand at the next General Election.

May 1: The second James Bond film From Russia With Love, the cinema's biggest money spinner that year.

May 28: The Midlands car industry came to a standstill with strikes at plants across the region over pay and conditions.

June 16: Russia put the first woman into space.

June 18: British heavyweight champion Henry Cooper floored the cocky challenger Cassius Clay before losing the bout in the fifth round.

August 8: Britain, America and France signed the nuclear test ban treaty to give new hope of world peace.

August 22: Britain's most successful car tycoon Lord Nuffield died at the age of 85.

August 28: Martin Luther King made his "I have a dream" speech in Washington.

September 10: American Express launched Britain's first credit card.

October 18: Harold Macmillan stepped down as Prime Minister to be replaced by the Earl of Home who renounced his peerage and became plain Sir Alec Douglas Home.

October 24: Councils in Shropshire joined forces to campaign for a university in the county.

October 31: Licensing justices for the Wolverhampton and Walsall areas gave the go-ahead for Christmas Night opening in pubs.