1987 in the United Kingdom

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1987 in the United Kingdom:
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Events from the year 1987 in the United Kingdom. At the beginning of the year, the Archbishop of Canterbury's envoy Terry Waite was kidnapped in Lebanon and remained a hostage until 1991. The major political event of this year was the re-election of Margaret Thatcher in June, making her the longest continuously serving Prime Minister since Lord Liverpool in the early 19th century. The year was also marked by a number of disasters — the sinking of the ferry MS Herald of Free Enterprise, the Hungerford massacre, the "Great Storm", the Remembrance Day Bombing in Northern Ireland and the King's Cross fire.




  • January - Most of Britain is affected by heavy snow and sub zero temperatures.
  • 1 January – Personal Equity Plans permitting tax-free investments in shares are introduced.
  • 2 January – Golliwogs are banned from Enid Blyton books by their publisher and replaced by politically correct gnomes following complaints that golliwogs were offensive to black people.[1]
  • 4 January – Economists predict that unemployment will fall below 3,000,000 by the end of this year.
  • 5 January – Harold Macmillan, Lord Stockton, former prime minister, is buried in the village of Horsted Keynes, having died on 29 December at the age of 92.
  • 7 January – Telford, the new town created in Shropshire some 20 years ago, is reported to have the highest unemployment rate in the West Midlands region, even eclipsing the unemployment levels seen in the city of Birmingham and nearby towns including Wolverhampton, Brierley Hill, Wednesbury and Bilston, which have lost a large percentage of traditional heavy industry since the late 1970s, although Brierley Hill's unemployment crisis is beginning to ease with the ongoing development of the Merry Hill Shopping Centre, which already includes two retail parks and a large shopping mall and is set to expand even further by the end of the decade.
  • 13 January – Prince Edward leaves the Royal Marines just three months after joining.
  • 14 January – Heavy snow falls across Britain leaving houses, towns, roads, railways and motor vehicles stranded and blocked.
  • 15 January – Unemployment is reported to have fallen in December 1986 for the fifth month in succession.
  • 20 January
    • Terry Waite, the special envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury in Lebanon, disappears in Beirut while negotiating for the release of hostages.[2]
    • Police arrest 26 suspected football hooligans across Britain after a mass operation.
  • 30 January – The flotation of British Airways begins.




  • 1 April – MP's vote against the restoration of the death penalty by 342–230.
  • 3 April – The jewellery of the late Duchess of Windsor is sold at auction for £31 million, six times the expected value.[2]
  • 5 April - Arsenal win the Football League Cup for the first time in their history with a 2-1 win over Liverpool. Charlie Nicholas scores both of Arsenal's goals.
  • 16 April – Conservative MP Harvey Proctor appears in Court charged with gross indecency.[7]
  • 22 April – The former prime minister Jim Callaghan is appointed to the Order of the Garter.
  • 29 April – Chancellor Nigel Lawson promises that the United Kingdom will soon have an income tax rate of 25p in the pound.
  • 30 April – The House of Lords approve the sterilisation of a "mentally subnormal" 17-year-old female.


  • 4 May - Everton win the Football League First Division title for the ninth time in their history.
  • 8 May – Soldiers of the SAS kill eight members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army at Loughgal, County Antrim.[8]
  • 11 May
  • 14 May – Unemployment has fallen to 3,107,128.
  • 15 May – Family Law Reform Act removes remaining legal distinctions between children born to married and unmarried parents.[9]
  • 16 May – Coventry City F.C. win the FA Cup for the first time in their history with a 3–2 win in the final over Tottenham Hotspur (who have already appeared in seven FA Cup finals before, but won each one).[10]
  • 25 May - Aldershot F.C. become the first team to win promotion through the new Football League playoffs, winning promotion from the Fourth Division with a 3-0 aggregate win over their illustrious opponents Wolverhampton Wanderers (who have a total of eight major trophies to their name, the most recent just seven years ago). The Hampshire club have already condemned another illustrious side, Bolton Wanderers (four times FA Cup winners) to relegation to the Fourth Division for the first time in their history.





  • 7 September – Ford completes its takeover of the luxury sports car company Aston Martin.
  • 9 September – 25 Liverpool football fans are extradited to Belgium to face charges of manslaughter in connection with the Heysel Stadium disaster more than two years ago.[26]
  • 11 September – The government unveils plans to abolish the Inner London Education Authority.
  • 22 September – The government bans automatic weapons of the type used by Hungerford killer Michael Ryan.
  • 23 September – An Australian court lifts the ban on the publication of Spycatcher.[27]


  • October - Construction work begins on the extension to the M40 motorway between Oxford and Birmingham. It is hoped that the motorway, providing an alternative route to the M6 and M1 from the midlands to London as well as improving road links with the midlands and the South Coast ports, will be fully operational by 1990.[28]
  • 1 October – Swedish home product retailer IKEA opens its first British store at Warrington in Cheshire.[29]
  • 9 October – Margaret Thatcher tells the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool that she wants to stay in power until at least 1994.
  • 11 October – £1 million pound Operation Deepscan in Loch Ness fails to locate the legendary Loch Ness Monster.[30]
  • 15 – 16 October – Great Storm: Hurricane force winds batter much of south-east England, killing 23 people and causing extensive damage to property.[31]
  • 18 October – Two days after the end of the storm in south-east England, some 250,000 homes in the region are still without electricity.
  • 19 October – Black Monday: Wall Street crash leads to £50 billion being wiped of the value of shares on the London stock exchange.[32]
  • 23 October – Retired English jockey Lester Piggott is jailed for 3 years after being convicted of tax evasion.[33]
  • 25 October – Peugeot begins production of its second car – the 405 four-door saloon – at the Ryton plant near Coventry. The first customers are set to take delivery of their cars after Christmas. A French-built estate version will be launched next year.


  • 1 November – British Rail establishes a world speed record for diesel traction, 238.9 km/h (148.4 mph) with a test InterCity 125 formation between Darlington and York.[34]
  • 2 November – Peter Brooke succeeds Norman Tebbit as chairman of the Conservative Party.
  • 3 November – It is announced that Unemployment in Britain fell quicker during October than in any other European country.
  • 5 November – London City Airport opens.[8]
  • 8 November – Enniskillen bombing: Eleven people are killed by a Provisional Irish Republican Army bomb at a Remembrance Day service at Enniskillen.[35]
  • 11 November – Customs officers in Southampton seize more than £50 million worth of cocaine – the most expensive haul of the drug ever found in Britain.
  • 12 November – The national unemployment rate is now below 10 percent for the first time since the summer of 1982, with the current total of unemployed people at just over 2,700,000 – the lowest for six years.
  • 17 November – The government announces that the Poll tax (community charge) will be introduced in April 1990.
  • 18 November – A fire at Kings Cross on the London Underground kills 31 people.[36]
  • 19 November – Conservative support has reached 50% in a MORI poll for the first time.[14]
  • 24 November - The government announces that free eye tests are to be abolished .
  • Late November – The first Acid House raves are reported in the United Kingdom, many of them being in derelict houses.


  • December
The British-built Peugeot 405 is European Car of the Year, and Peugeot's first winner of the award for nearly 20 years. British sales begin in the new year, several months after it was launched in France.
  • 9 December – The England cricket team's tour of Pakistan is nearly brought to a premature end when captain Mike Gatting and umpire Shakoor Rana row during a Test Match.[2]
  • 15 December – Channel Tunnel construction is initiated, with completion targeted within seven years.[37]
  • 17 December – A year that has seen an excellent recovery for the British economy ends with unemployment at less than 2,700,000.
  • 25 December – ITV enjoys a record breaking audience when more than 26,000,000 viewers tune in for the Christmas Day episode of Coronation Street, in which Hilda Ogden (Jean Alexander) makes her last appearance in the show after 23 years.
  • 29 December – PWL release the Kylie Minogue single I Should Be So Lucky.
  • 31 December – 31 British and Belgian people are recognised in the New Year Honours for heroism shown in the rescue operation at the Zebrugge tragedy earlier in the year.[38]


  • Inflation remains low for the sixth year running, standing at 4.2% for 1987.[39]
  • Largest ever deficit to date on UK balance of payments.
  • With overall unemployment falling below 3,000,000, youth unemployment is now below 1,000,000.[40]
  • Overall economy growth for the year reaches 5.5% - the highest since 1963.[15]





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  2. ^ a b c d Penguin Pocket On This Day. Penguin Reference Library. 2006. ISBN 0-14-102715-0. 
  3. ^ "The History Of The British Airways Museum – 1987". Archived from the original on 26 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  4. ^ "Mrs Payne is no brothel Madam". BBC. 11 February 1987. Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  5. ^ "Synod says 'yes' to women priests". BBC. 26 February 1987. Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  6. ^ "Hundreds trapped as car ferry capsizes". BBC. 6 March 1987. Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  7. ^ "MP on gay sex charges". BBC. 16 April 1987. Archived from the original on 18 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  8. ^ a b Palmer, Alan; Veronica (1992). The Chronology of British History. London: Century Ltd. pp. 453–454. ISBN 0-7126-5616-2. 
  9. ^ "Marriage: legitimacy and adoption". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 2015-01-25. 
  10. ^ "FA Cup Final 1987". Archived from the original on 1 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-30. 
  11. ^ "Thatcher wins record third term". BBC. 11 June 1987. Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  12. ^ "Flying Squad foils £80m robbery". BBC. 18 May 2004. Retrieved 2007-08-04. 
  13. ^ "Cartoonist shot in London street". BBC. 22 July 1987. Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  14. ^ "Archer wins record damages". BBC. 24 July 1987. Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  15. ^ "Newspaper caught in Spycatcher row". BBC. 31 July 1987. Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  16. ^ "DLR history timeline". Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  17. ^ "Rick Astley – Overview". allmusic. Retrieved 2010-05-14. 
  18. ^ "Biography". Mike Stock Music. Retrieved 26 March 2011. 
  19. ^ "Biography". Rickastley.com. Archived from the original on 13 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  20. ^ Williams, Hywel (2005). Cassell's Chronology of World History. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. pp. 614–616. ISBN 0-304-35730-8. 
  21. ^ Harwood, Elain (2003). England: a Guide to Post-War Listed Buildings (rev. ed.). London: Batsford. ISBN 0-7134-8818-2. 
  22. ^ "Gunman kills 14 in Hungerford rampage". BBC. 19 August 1987. Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  23. ^ "Information about the Order of the Garter, the most senior British order of chivalry". The Official website of the British Monarchy. Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  24. ^ [2]
  25. ^ "Maclennan replaces Owen in SDP". BBC. 27 August 1987. Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  26. ^ "Liverpool fans to stand trial in Belgium". BBC. 9 September 1987. Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  27. ^ "Ban lifted on MI5 man's memoirs". BBC. 23 September 1987. Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  28. ^ [3]
  29. ^ [4]
  30. ^ "Search ends for Loch Ness monster". BBC. 11 October 1987. Archived from the original on 10 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  31. ^ "Hurricane winds batter southern England". BBC. 16 October 1987. Archived from the original on 24 May 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  32. ^ "Shares plunge after Wall Street crash". BBC. 19 October 1987. Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  33. ^ "Lester Piggott jailed for three years". BBC. 23 October 1987. Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  34. ^ Balkwill, Richard; Marshall, John (1993). The Guinness Book of Railway Facts and Feats (6th ed.). Enfield: Guinness Publishing. ISBN 0-85112-707-X. 
  35. ^ "Bomb kills 11 at Enniskillen". BBC. 8 November 1987. Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  36. ^ "King's Cross station fire 'kills 27'". BBC. 18 November 1987. Archived from the original on 27 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  37. ^ "Our history". Eurotunnel. Archived from the original on 15 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  38. ^ "Zebrugge heroes honoured". BBC On This Day (BBC). 31 December 1987. Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  39. ^ [5]
  40. ^ Bowater, Donna (16 November 2011). "Youth unemployment reaches 1986 levels". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 16 November 2011. 

See also[edit]