1978 in the United Kingdom

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1978 in the United Kingdom
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1976 | 1977 | 1978 (1978) | 1979 | 1980
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Events from the year 1978 in the United Kingdom.





  • 9 February – Gordon McQueen, 25-year-old Scotland central defender, becomes Britain's first £500,000 footballer in a transfer from Leeds United to Manchester United.[2]
  • 13 February –
    • Anna Ford becomes the first female newsreader on ITN.[3]
    • An opinion poll conducted for the Daily Mail shows the Conservative opposition 11 points ahead of the Labour government, with an election due by October next year. The turnaround in fortunes for the Conservatives, who last month were narrowly behind Labour, is attributed to Margaret Thatcher's recent comments on immigration.[4]
  • 17 February – Twelve people are killed in the La Mon restaurant bombing.
  • 18 February – Twenty suspects are arrested in connection with the La Mon restaurant bombing.[5]
  • 20 February – Severe blizzards hit the south west of England.




  • 4 May – Altab Ali is murdered in East London in a racially motivated attack which mobilises the British Bangladeshi community to protest.
  • 6 May – Ipswich Town win the FA Cup for the first time by beating Arsenal 1–0 in the Wembley final.
  • 10 May – Liverpool F.C. retain the European Cup with a 1–0 win over Club Brugge K.V., the Belgian champions, at Wembley Stadium.
  • 16 May – 40-year-old prostitute Vera Millward is found stabbed to death in the grounds of the Manchester Royal Infirmary Hospital; she is believed to have been the tenth woman to die at the hands of the Yorkshire Ripper. Both of the victims killed outside Yorkshire have been killed in Manchester.[13]
  • 17 May – Charlie Chaplin's coffin, stolen 11 weeks previously, is found in a field about a mile away from the Chaplin home in Corsier near Lausanne, Switzerland.[14]
  • 25 May – Liberal Party leader David Steel announces that the Lib-Lab pact will be dissolved at the end of the current Parliamentary session by mutual consent, leaving Britain with a minority Labour government.[10]
  • 31 May – Labour wins the Hamilton by-election, retaining it in the face of a strong challenge from the Scottish National Party in that seat.


  • 1 June – William Stern is declared bankrupt with debts of £118 million, the largest bankruptcy in British history at the time.[15][16]
  • 3 June – Freddie Laker is knighted.
  • 8 June – Naomi James becomes the first woman to sail around the world single-handedly.[17]
  • 13–16 June – The Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife Elena pay a state visit to the United Kingdom. He is made a Knight of the Order of the Bath, and she an honorary professor of the Polytechnic of Central London.[18]
  • 17 June – Media reports suggest that a general election will be held this autumn as the minority government led by James Callaghan and Labour appears to be nearing the end of its duration. Callaghan's chances of an election win are now looking brighter than they were four months ago, as the 11-point Conservative lead has evaporated.[19]
  • 19 June – Cricketer Ian Botham becomes the first man in the history of the game to score a century and take eight wickets in one innings of a Test match.[20]
  • 21 June



  • 20 August – Gunmen open fire on an Israeli El Al airline bus in London.
  • 25 August – U.S. Army Sergeant Walter Robinson "walks" across the English Channel in 11 hours 30 minutes, using homemade water shoes.


  • 7 September
    • Prime Minister James Callaghan announces that he will not call a general election for this autumn, and faces accusations from Tory leader Margaret Thatcher and Liberal leader David Steel of "running scared", in spite of many opinion polls showing that Labour (currently a minority government) could win an election now with a majority, safeguarding its place in government until 1983. Callaghan also announces that the Lib-Lab pact, formed 18 months ago when the government lost its majority, has reached its end.[24]
    • Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov is stabbed with a poison-tipped umbrella as he walks across Waterloo Bridge, London, probably on orders of Bulgarian intelligence; he dies 4 days later.[25]
  • 15 September – German terrorist Astrid Proll arrested in London.[26]
  • 19 September – British Police launch a massive murder hunt, following the discovery of the dead body of newspaper boy Carl Bridgewater (13) at a farmhouse near Kingswinford in the West Midlands. Carl is believed to have been shot dead after disturbing a burglary at the property.[27]
  • 26 September – 23 Ford car plants are closed across Britain due to strikes.


  • 17 October – A cull of Grey seals in the Orkney and Western Islands reduced after a public outcry.[28]
  • 23 October – The government announces plans for a new single exam to replace O Levels and CSEs.
  • 25 October – A ceremony marks the completion of Liverpool Cathedral, for which the foundation stone was laid in 1904.
  • 27 October – Four people die and four others are wounded in a shooting spree which began in a residential street in West Bromwich and ends at a petrol station some 20 miles away in Nuneaton.[29]
  • 28 October – Barry Williams, aged 36, is arrested in Derbyshire and charged with the previous day's shootings following a high-speed police chase.[30]


  • 3 November – Dominica gains its independence from the United Kingdom.
  • 4 November – Many British bakeries impose bread rationing after a baker's strike led to panic buying of bread.[31]
  • 5 November – Rioters sack the British Embassy in Tehran.
  • 10 November – Panic buying of bread stops as most bakers go back to work.
  • 18 November – The British leg of the 1978 Kangaroo tour concludes with Australia winning the Ashes series by defeating Great Britain in the third and deciding Test match in Leeds.
  • 20 November – Buckingham Palace announces that The Prince Andrew is to join the Royal Navy.
  • 23 November – Pollyanna's nightclub in Birmingham is forced to lift its ban on black and Chinese revellers, after a one-year investigation by the Commission for Racial Equality concludes that the nightclub's entry policy was racist.
  • 29 November – Viv Anderson, the 22-year-old Nottingham Forest defender, becomes England's first black international footballer when he appears in 1–0 friendly win over Czechoslovakia at Wembley Stadium – six months after he became the first black player to feature in an English league championship winning team and was also on the winning side in the final of the Football League Cup.[32]
  • 30 November – An industrial dispute closes down The Times newspaper (until 12 November 1979).[17]


  • 10 December – Peter D. Mitchell wins the Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for his contribution to the understanding of biological energy transfer through the formulation of the chemiosmotic theory".[33]
  • 14 December – The Labour minority government survives a vote of confidence.
  • 21–22 December – The BBC was hit by a series of strikes. From Thursday 21 December, on television BBC One and BBC Two were taken off air, as the BBC members of the ABS union went on strike over pay. On Friday 22 December, the ABS union called its radio members out on strike, which led to the merging of BBC Radio 1, 2, 3 and 4 into a one national radio network, which from 4.00pm that Friday provided a management run schedule of news and music. With the strike called so close to Christmas, the BBC did not want their festive television programming to be interrupted (Bill Cotton, the controller of BBC One, had prepared two Christmas schedules for BBC One, one if there was no strike, and one filled with repeats and films if there was strike action over Christmas), and so the BBC and ABS went to the government's conciliation service ACAS, and a deal was reached by 10.00pm on Friday 22 December, with the unions getting a 15% pay rise. BBC One and Two returned to normal service by lunchtime of Saturday 23 December, with all the BBC radio stations resuming normal programming at breakfast time of the same day.[34][35]
  • 23 December – The Marxist writer Malcolm Caldwell is shot dead in Cambodia shortly after meeting Pol Pot.





See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Attacks And Murders – Helen Rytka.
  2. ^ "£500,000 McQueen". Glasgow Herald. 10 February 1978. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
  3. ^ "1978: Ford makes her ITN debut". BBC News. 13 February 1978. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2008.
  4. ^ "Thatcher would halt immigration to U.K". Calgary Herald. 13 February 1978. p. C4. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  5. ^ "1978: Belfast bomb suspects rounded up". BBC News. 18 February 1978. Archived from the original on 9 January 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2008.
  6. ^ a b Penguin Pocket On This Day. Penguin Reference Library. 2006. ISBN 978-0-14-102715-9.
  7. ^ The Attacks And Murders – Yvonne Pearson
  8. ^ "1978: Tories recruit advertisers to win votes". BBC News. 30 March 1978. Archived from the original on 20 January 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2008.
  9. ^ "Hastings Country Park: The Chronicle". The Hastings Chronicle. 2011. Archived from the original on 30 March 2012. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
  10. ^ a b "Significant events of 1978". The National Archives.
  11. ^ Marr, Andrew (2007). A History of Modern Britain. London: Macmillan. p. 353. ISBN 978-1-4050-0538-8.
  12. ^ "Clough does it again". Glasgow Herald. 10 February 1978. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
  13. ^ The Attacks And Murders – Vera Millward
  14. ^ "On This Day". BBC. Retrieved 16 November 2016 – via news.bbc.co.uk.
  15. ^ Charles, James (25 June 2008). "The 10 worst property investments ever". The Times. UK. Archived from the original on 7 July 2010.
  16. ^ "Stern declared bankrupt". Montreal Gazette. 2 June 1978.
  17. ^ a b Palmer, Alan; Veronica (1992). The Chronology of British History. London: Century Ltd. pp. 441–442. ISBN 978-0-7126-5616-0.
  18. ^ Hardman, Robert (1 June 2019). "Why Ceausescu's 1978 state visit was far more humiliating than Trump's ever could be". The Spectator.
  19. ^ "Callaghan Government Appears Near End of Road". Spartanburg Herald-Journal. 19 June 1978. p. A5. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  20. ^ "1978: Botham bowls into cricket history". BBC News. 19 June 1978. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2008.
  21. ^ "1978: Four dead in post office shootings". BBC News. 21 June 1978. Archived from the original on 6 January 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2008.
  22. ^ "1978: First 'test tube baby' born". BBC News. 25 July 1978. Archived from the original on 21 December 2007. Retrieved 27 January 2008.
  23. ^ "1978: Motability gets moving in the UK". BBC News. 25 July 1978. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2008.
  24. ^ "Callaghan accused of running scared". On This Day. BBC. 7 September 1978.
  25. ^ "1978: Umbrella stab victim dies". BBC News. 11 September 1978. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2008.
  26. ^ "1978: German terror suspect arrested in UK". BBC News. 15 September 1978. Archived from the original on 15 February 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2008.
  27. ^ "1978: Police hunt Bridgewater killers". BBC News. 20 September 1978. Archived from the original on 23 December 2007. Retrieved 27 January 2008.
  28. ^ "1978: Grey seal cull dramatically reduced". BBC News. 17 October 1978. Archived from the original on 29 January 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2008.
  29. ^ "Gunman runs amok in West Midlands". On This Day. BBC. 27 October 1978.
  30. ^ "On This Day". BBC.
  31. ^ Those were the days
  32. ^ "Viv Anderson – England International Footballer". Football-Heroes.net.
  33. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1978". Retrieved 27 January 2008.
  34. ^ "The Christmas that Nearly wasn't". Boggenstrovia's Bit. 2015. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  35. ^ Aylett, Glenn (1 June 2004). "You Can't Touch Me, I'm Part of the Union". Transdiffusion Broadcasting System. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  36. ^ Inflation: the Value of the Pound 1750–1998 (PDF), Research paper 99/20, House of Commons Library, 23 February 1999, archived from the original (PDF) on 19 February 2006, retrieved 8 March 2012
  37. ^ King, Ruth (30 June 2011). "Andrew Roberts: Republicans and the Thatcher legacy". Ruthfully Yours. Retrieved 8 March 2012.

External links[edit]