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.
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
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.
January 18: Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell
died from a minor virus at the age of 56. Harold Wilson
February 1: The West Midlands shivered
in the grip of the big freeze in the coldest January for
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
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
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
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
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.