Eleven years from the end of WWII, the United Kingdom was still struggling to pull out of the ravages of the conflict, the aftermath of rationing and general lack of money. Things were about to change, however, in many areas. Two major crises in this year were the Suez Crisis when, on 26 July, Nasser nationalised the Canal for Egypt. The political fall-out was to claim Prime Minister Anthony Eden's scalp the following year. 1956 was also the year when the Soviet Union invaded Hungary in answer to that country's protests against Communist rule and plans to become a neutral state. Khrushchev's put down of the revolt was bloody and brutal. On a slightly happier note, Tunisia obtained independence from France in this year.Personalities born this year were actors Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks and Bo Derek, and subsequent tennis stars Bjorn Borg and Martina Navratilova. A new phenomenon took hold and two other household names were making news this year, one on the way out and one on the way in!
Bill Haley began the year five weeks into his seven-week stint at the top of the charts with Rock Around The Clock but, despite six other records in the Hit Parade during the year, none emulated this first and his star was on the wane. By contrast, Elvis Presley made his first entry to the charts in May (with Heartbreak Hotel), heralding the real arrival of 'Rock 'n' Roll', which was to sweep all before it over the next few years. He had six entries in 1956 but, incredibly in hindsight, No.2 was the highest position reached. At this time he was up against established stars Tennessee Ernie Ford, Dean Martin, The Dream Weavers, Kay Starr, Winifred Attwell and Ronnie Hilton.Elsewhere in entertainment, the FA Cup was won by Manchester City, 3-1 against Birmingham City. On the UK's railways, the publication of the 1955 Modernisation Plan - and the introduction of dieselisation - was still being assimilated and assessed. Diesel shunters had been invading the system for a number of years and steam was still being built, but main line diesels were being built and would begin arriving in numbers in 1957.
Pruning of the railway mileage continued and whilst no major routes were unduly affected, passenger services and even stretches of line were axed that in turn would aid the Beeching Plan within a decade. Those affected included Nottingham (Victoria)-Edwinstowe and Sutton-in-Ashfield; Yelverton-Princetown; Newport (IoW)-Sandown; Hexham-Riccarton Jct; and Welshpool-Llanfair Caereinio.