||The 'Kitemark' symbol was first conceived in 1903 as a graphic symbol intended to identify products manufactured to conform to British Standards specifications. The name 'Kitemark' was suggested by the kite-like shape of the logo design - a capital 'B' for British, lying on its back, over an 'S' for Standard, enclosed by two angled lines. The Kitemark was officially registered as a trademark on 12th June 1903, making it one of the oldest product quality marks in the world still in regular use. The logo was initially used in 1930 as a trademark on tramway rails and was the major factor in reducing the number of different rail specifications from 75 to 5. The first actual Kitemark was awarded to the General Electric Company for light fittings in 1926. For several decades, the use of the Kitemark was almost entirely limited to engineering and technical applications and appliances until the 1950s, when the consumer product 'boom' led to greatly increased interest and concerns about product safety as the marketplace was being flooded with consumer goods, many of which were of poor or inconsistent quality.|
|When commercial television
broadcasting commenced in 1955 advertisements were controlled by legislation,
the first time that advertisements had been subject to any formal regulation.
When commercial radio was launched in 1973, they too were subject to the
same statutory control.
In 1961 the Council of the Advertising Association established a self-regulatory system for non-broadcast advertising, drafting the first British Code of Advertising Practice.
In 1962 the industry set up the Advertising Standards Authority (although not a public authority in the accepted sense) to adjudicate on complaints about any advertisements thought to have breached the new Code, holding its inaugural meeting on 24th September. The ASA operated under an independent chairman with no vested interest within the industry.
The interest and progress in American, German and Swedish consumer affairs was mirrored in the UK in 1957 with the launch of 'Which?' magazine, the external organ of the Association for Consumer Research (renamed 'The Consumer's Association' shortly afterwards), that started as a 32-page publication containing reports on electric kettles, cake mixes, sunglasses, aspirin, scouring powders, non-iron cottons and British cars.
The magazine was an immediate hit with the general public due to the fact that it carried out independent and authoritative testing on popular everyday products and also advised on the 'best buys'. The organisation attracted 84,000 members in the first year, rising to 150,000 in 1959, administrating the membership services from its offices in Hertford. By 1969 it had attracted 600,000 with members joining at the rate of 2,000 a week. In 1960, Which? assisted in the founding of the International Organisation of Consumer Unions (later Consumers International).
In 1962 it expanded its coverage with the launch of the first quarterly Which? car supplement (becoming Motoring Which? in 1965), followed by the introduction of Money Which? in 1968.
Products tested during the Sixties included contraceptives (in 1963) and paper dresses (in 1967).
Which? Magazine and The Consumer's Association sat happily in the gap between the technicalities of the BSI Kitemark (most people had no idea what a British Standard award actually meant) and the Council of Industrial Design's 'Design Index' of products which acclaimed aesthetic taste but stated nothing about performance, reliability or value.
| The general vociferation over
the thalidomide tragedy was one of the main factors in the instigation of
medicines regulation in the UK. Thalidomide, a drug developed by German
firm Chemie Grünenthal, was prescribed to women during the late 1950s and
early 1960s against nausea and to alleviate morning sickness in the first
few months of pregnancy but had the side effect of causing serious unpredicted
In order to avoid the likelihood of future occurrences of this type the Committee on Safety of Drugs was set up in 1963, subsequently becoming the Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM) under the terms of the Medicines Act of 1968 that provided the legal mechanism for the control of medicines in the UK.
|Mary Whitehouse began her activism in 1963 with a letter of complaint to the BBC giving her perceptions of its excessive portrayals of sex, violence and bad language. She was a prominent figure in the 'Clean-Up TV' pressure group whose first public meeting was held in Birmingham's Town Hall on 5th May 1964 and which attracted over two thousand people.|
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