1980 in the United Kingdom

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1980 in the United Kingdom
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Events from the year 1980 in the United Kingdom.




  • 2 January – workers at British Steel Corporation go on a nationwide strike over pay called by the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation, which has some 90,000 members among British Steel's 150,000 workforce, in a bid to get a 20% rise. It is the first steelworks strike since 1926.[1]
  • 19 January – the first UK Indie Chart is published in Record Week.
  • 20 January – the British record TV audience for a film is set when some 23,500,000 viewers tune in for the ITV showing of the James Bond film Live and Let Die (1973), starring Roger Moore who is at this time in the process of filming For Your Eyes Only.
  • 21 January – MS Athina B is beached at Brighton.
  • 28 January – Granada Television airs a controversial edition of World in Action on ITV, in which it alleges that Manchester United F.C. chairman Louis Edwards has made unauthorised payments to the parents of some of the club's younger players and has made shady deals to win local council meat contracts for his retail outlet chain.[2]




  • 1 April – the steelworkers' strike is called off.
  • 4 April - Alton Towers Resort is opened by Madame Tussauds in Staffordshire.
  • 10 April – the UK reaches agreement with Spain to re-open its border with Gibraltar.
  • 18 April – Zimbabwe becomes independent of the United Kingdom.[5]
  • 22 April – unemployment stands at a two-year high of more than 1.5million.
  • 30 April – the Iranian Embassy Siege begins. A six-man terrorist team calling itself the "Democratic Revolutionary Movement for the Liberation of Arabistan" (DRMLA) captures the Embassy of Iran in Prince's Gate, Knightsbridge, central London, taking 26 hostages.[5]



  • June
    • British Leyland launches its Morris Ital range of family saloons and estates, which are a reworking of the nine-year-old Marina that was one of Britain's most popular cars during the 1970s. Production is expected to finish by 1984 when an all-new front-wheel drive model is added to the range, and sales begin on 1 August – the same day that the new W-registered cars go on sale.
    • The UK economy slides into recession.
  • 6 June – two Malaysian men are jailed for 14 years after being found guilty of running a drug smuggling ring in London which generated millions of pounds.
  • 12 June – Gail Kinchen (a pregnant 16-year-old) and her unborn baby are accidentally shot dead by a police marksman who entered the Birmingham flat where her boyfriend David Pagett is holding her hostage at gunpoint.[11] [12]
  • 17 June – Secretary of State for Defence, Francis Pym reveals to the House of Commons that US nuclear cruise missiles would be located at RAF Greenham Common in Berkshire and the disused RAF Molesworth base in Cambridgeshire.[11]
  • 19 June – gunmen attack the British embassy in Iraq; three unknown attackers are shot dead by Iraqi security forces.[12]
  • 24 June – unemployment is announced to have reached a postwar high of 1,600,000.
  • 26 June – the Glasgow Central by-election is held, with Labour retaining its hold on the seat despite a swing of 14% to the Scottish National Party.
  • 30 June – the pre-decimal sixpence coin is withdrawn from circulation.[5]


  • 1 July – MG's Abingdon car factory looks set to close completely this autumn as Aston Martin fails to raise the funds to buy it from British Leyland.
  • 8 July – miners threatening to strike demand a 37% pay increase, ignoring pleas from Margaret Thatcher to hold down wage claims.
  • 10 July – Alexandra Palace in London gutted by fire.[13]
  • 19 July – 3 August: Great Britain and Northern Ireland compete at the Olympics in Moscow and win 5 gold, 7 silver and 9 bronze medals.
  • 22 July – unemployment has hit a 44-year high of nearly 1.9 million.
  • 29 July – Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher announces the introduction of Enterprise Zones as an employment relief effort in some of regions of Britain which have been hardest hit by deindustrialisation and unemployment.[13]
  • Undated: Britain is now in recession for the second time in five years following two successive quarters of economic contraction, which worsened from 0.9% in the first quarter of the year to 1.8% in the second quarter.[14]


  • 11 August
    • Margaret Thatcher visits the Harold Hill area of East London to hand of the keys to the 12,000th council tenants in Britain to buy their home under the right to buy scheme. However, she is met by jeering from neighbours of the family.
    • Tyne and Wear Metro opens on Tyneside after 6 years construction, with the first phase between Haymarket in Newcastle and Whitley Bay
  • 15 August – 37 people die as a result of fires started by arson at adjacent London nightclubs.[14]
  • 28 August – unemployment now stands at 2million for the first time since 1935. Economists warn that it could rise to up to 2.5million by the end of next year.[15]


  • 1 September – Ford launches one of the most important new cars of the year – the mark 3 Escort, which is a technological innovation in the small family car market, spelling the end of the traditional rear-wheel drive saloon in favour of the front-wheel drive hatchback, and following a trend in this sector of car which is being repeated all over Western Europe. An estate version is also available.
  • 9 September – Bibby Line’s Liverpool-registered ore-bulk-oil carrier MV Derbyshire sinks with the loss of all 44 crew south off Japan in Typhoon Orchid following structural failure. At 91,655 gross tons, she is the largest UK-registered ship ever lost.
  • 11 September – the Marlborough diamond is stolen in London.[16]
  • 12 September
  • 13 September – Hercules, a bear which had gone missing on a Scottish island filming a Kleenex advertisement, is found.[17]
  • 21 September – first CND rally at RAF Greenham Common.[7]
  • 24 September – 34-year-old Singapore born doctor Upadhya Bandara is attacked and injured in Headingley, Leeds; the Yorkshire Ripper is believed to have been responsible.[18]


  • 3 October – the 1980 Housing Act comes into effect, giving council house tenants of three years' standing in England and Wales the right to buy their home from their local council at a discount.[19]
  • 6 October – deregulation of express coach services.
  • 8 October – British Leyland launches the Austin Metro, a small hatchback which uses much of the Mini's mechanical design but an entirely different body which offers more space and practicality. Production of the 21-year-old Mini, however, is set to continue for the foreseeable future, although it is expected to be scaled back along with that of the larger Austin Allegro.
  • 9 October – Gloagtrotter of Perth, Scotland, trading as GT Coaches, begins operation of a coach service from Dundee to St Pancras, London, as The Stage Coach, origin of the Stagecoach Group.
  • 10 October – Margaret Thatcher makes her famous "The lady's not for turning" speech to the Conservative Party conference after party MP's warn that her economic policy was responsible for the current recession and rising unemployment.[20]
  • 15 October
    • James Callaghan, ousted as prime minister by the Conservative victory 17 months ago, resigns as Labour Party leader after four and a half years.
    • Former prime minister Harold Macmillan, 86, criticises Margaret Thatcher's economic policies, claiming that she has "got the wrong answer" to the economic crises which she inherited from Labour last year. Her economic policies are also criticised by union leaders, who blame her policies for rising unemployment and bankruptcies, and warn that this could result in civil unrest.[21]
  • 17 October – Elizabeth II makes history by becoming the first British monarch to make a state visit to the Vatican.[22]
  • 22 October – Lord Thomson announces that The Times and Sunday Times will be closed down within five months unless a buyer is found.
  • 24 October – MG car production ends after 56 years with the closure of the plant in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, where more than 1.1million MG cars have been built since it opened in 1924.[23]
  • 28 October – Margaret Thatcher declares that the government will not give in to seven jailed IRA terrorists who are on hunger strike in the Maze Prison in hope of winning prisoner of war status.


  • 5 November – Theresa Sykes, a 16-year-old Huddersfield mother of a young baby, is wounded in a stabbing near her home in the town. The Yorkshire Ripper is believed to be responsible.[24]
  • 10 November – Michael Foot is elected Leader of the Labour Party.[25]
  • 13 November – George Smith, a security guard, is shot dead when the van he is guarding is intercepted by armed robbers in Willenhall, West Midlands.[16] [17]
  • 17 November – university student Jacqueline Hill, aged 20, is murdered in Headingley, Leeds.
  • 19 November – police investigating the murder of Jacqueline Hill establish that she was probably the 13th woman to be killed by the Yorkshire Ripper.[26]
  • 23 November – despite the economy now being in recession and the government's monetarist economic policy to tackle inflation being blamed for the downturn, the government announces further public spending cuts and taxation rises.


  • 8 December – John Lennon is shot dead in New York.[27]
  • 10 December – Frederick Sanger wins his second Nobel Prize in Chemistry, jointly with Walter Gilbert, "for their contributions concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids".[28]
  • 14 December – thousands of music fans hold a 10-minute vigil in Liverpool for John Lennon.
  • 18 December – Michael Foot's hopes of becoming prime minister in the next general election are given a boost by an MORI poll which shows Labour on 56% with a 24-point lead over the Conservatives.[18]
  • An UFO is allegedly sighted near RAF Woodbridge. This and its subsequent sightings would be part of what was later known as the Rendlesham Forest incident, the most well known UFO incident to occur in Britain.[29]
  • 28 December – the Independent Broadcasting Authority award contracts for commercial broadcasting on ITV. TV-am is awarded the first ever breakfast TV contract, and is set to go on air by 1983.[30]


  • Inflation has risen to 18% as Margaret Thatcher's battle against inflation is still in its early stages.[31]
  • Britain becomes self-sufficient in oil.[32]
  • Alton Towers begins development as a theme park.
  • Transcendental Meditation movement community established in Skelmersdale.
  • The economy contracts throughout the year, shrinking by 4% overall with the greatest decline occurring in the second quarter of the year at 1.8%.




See also[edit]


  1. ^ "1980: Steel workers strike over pay". BBC News. 2 January 1980. Archived from the original on 5 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  2. ^ "Soccer probe police look at TV film". Evening Times. Glasgow. 1980-01-30. p. 11. Retrieved 2015-01-27. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ a b c d e Penguin Pocket on This Day. Penguin Reference Library. 2006. ISBN 0-14-102715-0. 
  6. ^ "1980: Britain will go to Moscow Olympics". BBC News. 25 March 1980. Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  7. ^ a b Palmer, Alan; Veronica (1992). The Chronology of British History. London: Century,.,. Ltd. pp. 443–444. ISBN 0-7126-5616-2. 
  8. ^ [3]
  9. ^ "1980: SAS rescue ends Iran embassy siege". BBC News. 5 May 1980. Archived from the original on 14 December 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  10. ^ "1980: Peach death was 'misadventure'". BBC News. 27 May 1980. Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  11. ^ "1980: Government announces missile sites". BBC News. 17 June 1980. Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  12. ^ "1980: Gunbattle at British embassy in Iraq". BBC News. 19 June 1980. Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  13. ^ Weinreb, Ben; Hibbert, Christopher (1995). The London Encyclopaedia. Macmillan. p. 288. ISBN 0-333-57688-8. 
  14. ^ "Soho Club 1980". London Fire Journal. 22 January 2010. Retrieved 2011-03-26. 
  15. ^ "Two million – before it gets rough". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 9 January 2011. 
  16. ^ "1980: Famous gem grabbed in armed raid". BBC News. 11 September 1980. Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  17. ^ "1980: Missing Scottish bear is found". BBC News. 13 September 1980. Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  18. ^ [4]
  19. ^ The History Today Companion to British History. London: Collins & Brown. 1995. p. 393. ISBN 1-85585-178-4. 
  20. ^ "1980: Thatcher 'not for turning'". BBC News. 10 October 1980. Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  21. ^ [5]
  22. ^ "1980: Pope welcomes Queen to the Vatican". BBC News. 17 October 1980. Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  23. ^ [6]
  24. ^ [7]
  25. ^ "1980: Michael Foot is new Labour leader". BBC News. 10 November 1980. Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  26. ^ [8]
  27. ^ "1980: John Lennon shot dead". BBC News. 8 December 1980. Archived from the original on 9 December 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  28. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1980". Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  29. ^ "UFO files: Rendlesham Forest incident remains Britain's most tantalising sighting". The Telegraph. June 21, 2013. Retrieved July 13, 2013. 
  30. ^ "1980: Green light for breakfast television". BBC News. 28 December 1980. Archived from the original on 30 December 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  31. ^ [9] Archived 19 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  32. ^ Marr, Andrew (2007). A History of Modern Britain. London: Macmillan. p. 434. ISBN 978-1-4050-0538-8. 

External links[edit]