Roll up for a time machine ride to 1952 London

On June 3 - 5, the UK’s Queen Elizabeth II marks her Diamond Jubilee year with a series of parties and pageants. CNN’s Piers Morgan and Brooke Baldwin will be there to follow the festivities. Join them at the following times: June 5: 0900 (ET), 1400 (CET).

Story highlights

Tea rationing ended in October 1952 but sweets and sugar were still rationed until 1953

In 1952 4,000 people were killed by the London smog and thousands more made sick

When Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne, 6% of the family budget was spent on cigarettes

Agatha Christie's play The Mousetrap opened in London 60 years ago and is still showing at St. Martin's Theatre

London CNN  — 

If you want to make a phone call you will have to find a big red box on the street – that’s if you’re prepared to brave the occasional dense smogs that afflict London.

Or you could instead curl up on the sofa with a hot drink and watch the only channel on television; as long as you haven’t already used your tea ration for the week and your family is one of the few that has a TV set.

Anyone taking a ride in a time machine back to the London of 1952 when Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne would find a dramatically different country to the UK’s modern capital.

The country was still suffering from the aftermath of World War II and there was very little to resemble what we might now recognize as youth culture

There were no mobile phones of course, but 60 years ago few people in the UK owned a car, television or washing machine. Some food rationing was still in place – tea rationing ended in October of that year but sweets and sugar were still rationed until 1953.

Even clean air was not guaranteed. In December 1952, 4,000 people were killed by the choking urban fumes that accompanied the London fog, and thousands more were made ill.

Winston Churchill was British prime minister, identity cards were only just being ripped up and the blockbuster “Singin’ in the rain” starring Gene Kelly was playing at the movies.

Even money was different. British people bought and sold in farthings, florins, tanners, shillings, half crowns and thrupenny bits, and sometimes using coins minted in the reign of the queen’s great, great-grandmother, Queen Victoria.

Finding the 1952 smash hit

So what was life really like in 1952 and how does it compare to modern Britain?

“I hated it,” recalls Sparrow Harrison who set up the Cae Dai 1950s-era museum in Denbigh, North Wales, UK.