Sixty years ago, people were then, as now, preparing to celebrate the new year.

No one knew it then, but 1963 would turn out to be one of the most eventful years in peacetime history.

First up: music. 1963 saw a certain Liverpool group reach number one with their first three single releases. The band was Gerry and the Pacemakers.

Of course, 1963 was also the year when another Liverpool group, The Beatles also scored their first three number ones.

This was the year Beatlemania really took hold in Britain.

As it turned out, it was the Fab Four not the Pacemakers who would dominate the thriving music scene for the rest of the decade.

In February, the poet and author, Sylvia Plath died at the age of thirty. In March, the hugely controversial Beeching Report on the future of Britain’s railways was published.

In June, Soviet cosmonaut, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to go into space.

In August, the Great Train Robbery captured £2.6 million and many people’s imaginations.

“The times they are a-changing” as Bob Dylan sang in a famous song written in the autumn of this year. In the summer, civil rights leader, Dr Martin Luther King delivered his legendary, “I have a dream speech.”

US President, John F. Kennedy himself declared “Ich bin ein Berliner” on a visit to the Berlin Wall in June. In the same month, British boxer Henry Cooper floored young Cassius Clay (who would later become Mohammad Ali) in a match at Wembley Stadium.

In July, Labour politician, Viscount Stansgate was finally able to renounce his peerage and take up his seat in the Commons as Tony Benn.

New films released in 1963 included The Great Escape, From Russia With Love and Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. In November, a new science fiction series, Doctor Who aired for the first time on the BBC.

PM Harold Macmillan’s year started badly when the UK attempt to join the newish European Common Market (the forerunner to the EU) was abruptly vetoed by the French leader, Charles de Gaulle. But far worse was to come when his government become embroiled in the biggest political scandal of the 20th century.

The Profumo Affair began with Minister of War, John Profumo who lied to Macmillan and to his fellow MPs about his affair with Christine Keeler.

Profumo soon admitted his guilt and resigned but the scandal soon grew incorporating fears that vital secrets had been leaked to the Russians, highlighting the activities of the notorious slum landlord Peter Rachman and leading to the suicide of society osteopath, Dr Stephen Ward.

The scandal provided a golden opportunity for Labour’s new young Opposition leader, Harold Wilson who had taken over soon after the sudden death of Hugh Gaitskell in February.

Wilson exploited the Tories’ misery to the full and spoke excitedly of “the white heat of revolution.” By the autumn, Macmillan had had enough.

When he fell ill during the Tory Party Conference he seized the opportunity to retire on health grounds. The unlikely figure of Sir Alec Douglas Home was picked as his successor. A year later, Home would lead the Tories to defeat against Harold Wilson’s Labour Party in the 1964 General Election.

On November 22, two famous British authors died. Aldous Huxley had written Brave New World while C.S Lewis had written the Chronicles of Narnia. News of both of their deaths would be completely overshadowed by events in Dallas on the same day.

The news of the assassination of President John F Kennedy while on a campaign visit to Texas was to prove one of the shocking and most devastating news events of all time.

It was said that for decades afterwards everyone could remember where they had been when they first heard the news. Kennedy’s own alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald was himself gunned down as he was being filmed live on US TV just two days’ later.

The hugely eventful year of 1963 ended just over a month later.