3 January - Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, dies.
4 January - RL workers voted to accept peace formula in Longbridge strike.
5 January - Peter Sutcliffe, a 35-year-old lorry driver from Bradford arrested on 2 January in Sheffield, is charged with being the notorious mass murderer known as the "Yorkshire Ripper", who is believed to have murdered 13 women and attacked seven others across northern England since 1975.
13 January - The prison officers' overtime ban ends.
14 January - The British Nationality Bill is published.
15 January - Two soldiers are found guilty of murder in Northern Ireland.
16 January - Northern Ireland civil rights campaigner and former Westminster MP Bernadette McAliskey is shot and injured by suspected Loyalist paramilitaries at her home in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland.
78% of BSC workers vote in favour of the chairman's "survival" plan.
18 January – New Cross Fire: Ten young black people are killed and thirty are injured in an arson attack on a house in New Cross, London. On 25 January the death toll reaches 11 when another victim dies in hospital.
21 January - Sir Norman Stronge and his son, both former Stormont MPs are killed by the IRA.
Two divers trapped below the North Sea are brought to safety to the surface.
22 January - Rupert Murdoch agrees to buy The Times provided an agreement could be reached with the unions.
24 January - Wembley Labour Party conference voted for election of party leader by electoral college with 40% votes for unions, 30% Labour MPs and 30% constituencies.
Unemployment now stands at 2,400,000 or 10% of the workforce.
22 March – It is reported that a minority of Conservative MP's are planning to challenge the leadership of Margaret Thatcher in an attempt to reverse the party's declining popularity and fight off the challenge from Labour and the SDP.
23 April – Unemployment passes the 2,500,000 mark for the first time in nearly 50 years.
29 April – Peter Sutcliffe admits to the manslaughter of 13 women on the grounds of diminished responsibility, but the judge rules that a jury should rule on Sutcliffe's state of mind before deciding whether to accept his plea or find him guilty of murder.
May – Peugeot closes the Talbot car plant at Linwood, Scotland, which was opened by the Rootes Group 18 years ago as Scotland's only car factory. The closure of the factory also results in the end of the last remaining Rootes-developed product, the Avenger, after 11 years, as well as the four-year-old Sunbeam supermini. There are no plans to replace the Avenger, but a French-built small car based on the Peugeot 104 will replace the Sunbeam in the next few months.
13–14 June – More than 80 arrests are made during clashes between white power skinheads and black people in Coventry, where the National Front is planning a march later this month, on the same day as an anti-racist concert by The Specials.
Two days of rioting in Moss Side, Manchester, draw to a close, during which there has been extensive looting of shops. Princess Road, the main road through the area, will be closed for several days while adjacent buildings and gas mains damaged by rioting and arson are made safe.
11 July – A further wave of rioting breaks out in Bradford, West Yorkshire.
The IRA hunger strike death toll reaches six when Martin Hurson dies.
Margaret Thatcher announces that police will be able to use rubber bullets, water cannons and armoured vehicles against urban rioters. Labour leader Michael Foot blames the recent wave of rioting on the Conservative government's economic policies, which have seen unemployment rise by more than 70% in the last two years.
15 July – Police clash with black youths in Brixton once again, this time after police raid properties in search of petrol bombs which are never found.
16 July – Labour narrowly hang on to the Warrington seat in a by-election, fighting off a strong challenge from Roy Jenkins for the Social Democratic Party.
10 September – Another Enterprise Zone is launched, the latest being in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.
14 September – Cecil Parkinson is appointed chairman of the Conservative Party.
17 September – A team of divers begins removing gold ingots worth £40 million from the wreck of HMS Edinburgh, sunk off the coast of Norway in 1942.
18 September – David Steel tells delegates at the Liberal Party conference to "go back to your constituencies and prepare for government", hopes of which are boosted by the fact that most opinion polls now show the SDP-Liberal Alliance in the lead.
25 September - Ford announces that its best-selling Cortina nameplate will be discontinued next year, and its replacement will be called the Sierra.
29 September – Football mourns the legendary former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly, who dies today at the age of 67 after suffering a heart attack.
13 October - Opinion polls show that Margaret Thatcher is still unpopular as Conservative leader due to her anti-inflationary economic measures, which have now come under fire from her predecessor Edward Heath.
15 October – Norman Tebbit tells fellow Conservative MPs: "I grew up in the thirties with an unemployed father. He didn't riot. He got on his bike and looked for work and he kept looking until he found it".
13 November – The Queen opens the final phase of the Telford Shopping Centre, nearly a decade after development began on the first phase of what is now one of the largest indoor shopping centres in Europe in the Shropshire new town.
25 November – A report into the Brixton Riots, which scarred inner-city London earlier this year, points the finger of blame at the social and economic problems which have been plaguing Brixton and many other inner-city areas across England.
26 November – Shirley Williams wins the Crosby by-election for the SDP, overturning a Conservative majority of nearly 20,000 votes.
2 November – The TV licence increases in price from £34 to £46 for a colour TV, and £12 to £15 for black and white.
9 December – Michael Heseltine announces a £95 million aid package for the inner cities.
19 December – An opinion poll shows that Margaret Thatcher is now the most unpopular postwar British prime minister and that the SDP-Liberal Alliance has the support of up to 50% of the electorate.
20 December – Penlee lifeboat disaster: The crew of the MV Union Star and the life-boat Solomon Browne sent to rescue them are all killed in heavy seas off Cornwall; some of the bodies are never found.
Inflation has fallen to 11.9%, the second lowest annual level since 1973, but has been largely achieved by the mass closure of heavy industry facilities that have contributed to the highest postwar levels of unemployment.
In spite of the continuing rise in employment, the British economy improves from 4% contraction last year to 0.8% overall growth this year.
Suzuki, the Japanese manufacturer famous for producing motorcycles, imports passenger cars to the United Kingdom for the first time. The first model sold in Britain is the entry-level Alto, with the SJ four-wheel drive set to go on sale in 1982.
In spite of the continued rise in unemployment, the British economy improved with 1.8% overall growth for the year compared to 3% overall contraction in 1980.
New car sales in the United Kingdom fall to just over 1.4 million. The Ford Cortina enjoys its 10th year as Britain's best selling car since 1967, while the new front-wheel drive Ford Escort is close behind in second place. British Leyland's new Metro is Britain's fourth most popular new car with nearly 100,000 sales. The Datsun Cherry, eighth in the sales charts, is the most popular foreign car in Britain this year.