1981 in the United Kingdom

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1981 in the United Kingdom
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Sport, television and music

Events from the year 1981 in the United Kingdom.

Incumbents[edit]

Events[edit]

January[edit]

February[edit]

  • 2 February – the report on the Brixton prison escape is released and the Governor is transferred to an administrative post.
  • 4 February – Margaret Thatcher announces that the government will sell half of its shares in British Aerospace.
  • 5 February – actor Lord Olivier, cancer researcher Sir Peter Medawar and humanitarian Leonard Cheshire are admitted into the Order of Merit as announced in the New Year Honours list.[7]
  • 6 February
    • The Liverpool-registered coal ship Nellie M is bombed and sunk by an IRA unit driving a hijacked pilot boat in Lough Foyle.
    • The Government drops two controversial clauses of the Nationality Bill.
    • Ian Paisley parades 500 men on a remote mountainside in the middle of the night in a show of strength.
    • The Canadian Minister warns British MPs against delaying changes in the Canadian constitution.
  • 9 February – Shirley Williams resigns from Labour's national executive committee.
  • 11 February – closure of the Talbot car plant in Linwood, Scotland, is announced.
  • 12 February
    • Purchase of The Times and The Sunday Times from The Thomson Corporation by Rupert Murdoch's News International is confirmed. Murdoch also announces that an agreement with the unions has been reached about manning levels and new technology.[8]
    • Ian Paisley is suspended from the House of Commons for four days after calling the Northern Ireland Secretary a liar.
    • The National Union of Students calls off a 5-week strike.
  • 13 February – the National Coal Board announces widespread pit closures.
  • 15 February – the first Sunday games of the Football League take place.
  • 16 February – two are jailed in connection with the death of industrialist Thomas Niedermayer.
  • 17 February – Princess Anne is elected Chancellor of London University.
  • 18 February
  • 20 February
    • Four more MPs announce their intention to leave the Labour Party.
    • Peter Sutcliffe is charged with the murder of 13 women in the north of England.
  • 21 February – 30,000 march in an unemployment protest in Glasgow.
  • 24 February – the engagement of Charles, Prince of Wales, and 19-year-old Lady Diana Spencer is officially announced.[10]
  • 25 February
  • 26 February
    • The English cricket team withdraws from the Second Test after the Guyanan government serves a deportation order on Robin Jackman.
    • Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan met in Washington – El Salvador dominated the first day of their talks.
  • 27 February
    • Three British missionaries released from Iran land in Athens.
    • Sir Harold Wilson announces his retirement from Parliament at the next general election.
    • The Archbishop of Canterbury advises the church to see homosexuality as a handicap not a sin.
    • The Observer takeover is referred to the Monopolies Commission.

March[edit]

April[edit]

May[edit]

  • 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.[25]
  • 5 May
  • 7 May – Ken Livingstone becomes leader of the GLC after Labour wins the GLC elections.[27]
  • 9 May – the 100th FA Cup final ends with a 1–1 draw between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium.[28]
  • 11 May – the first performance of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats takes place at the New London Theatre.[2]
  • 12 May – Francis Hughes (aged 25) becomes the second IRA hunger striker to die in Northern Ireland.
  • 13 May – an inquest returns an open verdict on the thirteen people who died as a result of their injuries in the New Cross fire.
  • 14 May – Tottenham Hotspur win the FA Cup for the sixth time in their history with a 3–2 win over Manchester City in the final replay at Wembley.[28]
  • 15 May
  • 19 May – Peter Sutcliffe is found guilty of being the Yorkshire Ripper after admitting 13 charges of murder and a further seven of attempted murder. He will be sentenced later this week.
  • 21 May – the IRA hunger strike death toll reaches four with the deaths of Raymond McCreesh and Patrick O'Hara.
  • 22 May – Peter Sutcliffe is sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommendation that he should serve at least 30 years before parole can be considered.[21]
  • 27 May – Liverpool F.C. win the European Cup for the third time by defeating Real Madrid of Spain 1–0 in the final at Parc des Princes, Paris, France. Alan Kennedy scores the only goal of the game.[29] Although they have yet to equal Spanish side Real Madrid's record of six European Cups, they are the first British side to win the trophy three times.[30]
  • 30 May – more than 100,000 people from across Britain march to Trafalgar Square in London for the TUC's March For Jobs.[29]

June[edit]

July[edit]

August[edit]

  • 1 August – Kevin Lynch becomes the seventh IRA hunger striker to die.
  • 2 August – within 24 hours of Kevin Lynch's death, Kieran Doherty becomes the eighth IRA hunger striker to die.
  • 8 August – the IRA hunger strike claims its ninth hunger striker so far (and its third in a week) with the death of Thomas McElwee.
  • 9 August – Broadmoor Hospital falls under heavy criticism after the escape of a second prisoner in three weeks. The latest absconder is 32-year-old Alan Reeve, a convicted double murderer.
  • 17 August – an inquiry opens in the Moss Side riots.
  • 20 August
  • 24 August – Mark David Chapman is sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for killing John Lennon.
  • 25 August – Britain's largest Enterprise Zone is launched on deindustrialised land on Tyneside.[43]
  • 26 August – General Motors launches the MK2 Vauxhall Cavalier, available for the first time with front-wheel drive and a hatchback.[44]
  • 27 August – Moira Stuart, 29, is appointed the BBC's first black newsreader.

September[edit]

  • September – Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp set up.[45]
  • 1 September – filling stations start selling motor fuel by the litre.[21]
  • 8 September
  • 10 September – another Enterprise Zone is launched, the latest being in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.[46]
  • 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.[2]
  • 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.[47]

October[edit]

November[edit]

  • 1 November – British Leyland's 58,000-strong workforce begins a strike over pay.
  • 8 November – Queen's Greatest Hits released: it will be the best-selling UK album of all time.[55][56][57]
  • 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.[58]
  • 16 November – production of the Vauxhall Astra commences in Britain at the Ellesmere Port plant in Cheshire. The Astra was launched two years ago but until now has been produced solely at the Opel plant in West Germany.
  • 18 November – the England national football team beats Hungary 1–0 at Wembley Stadium to qualify for the World Cup in Spain next summer, with the only goal being scored by Ipswich Town striker Paul Mariner It is the first time they have qualified for the tournament since 1970.[59]
  • 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.[citation needed]

December[edit]

  • December – first case of AIDS diagnosed in the UK.[60]
  • 8 December – Arthur Scargill becomes leader of the National Union of Mineworkers.[2]
  • 9 December – Michael Heseltine announces a £95 million aid package for the inner cities.
  • 11 December - Seer Green rail crash: a train crash in Seer Green near Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire kills four people and seriously injures five others.
  • 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.[61]

Undated[edit]

  • 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.[62]
  • In spite of the continuing rise in employment, the British economy improves from 4% contraction last year to 0.8% overall growth this year.
  • First Urban Development Corporations set up in London Docklands and Merseyside.
  • First purpose-built Hindu temple in the British Isles formally opens in Slough.[63]
  • The London department store Whiteleys closes, after 107 years in business.
  • Last manufacture of coal gas, at Millport, Isle of Cumbrae.[64]
  • Perrier Comedy Awards first presented to the best shows on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
  • 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,[65] with the SJ four-wheel drive set to go on sale in 1982.[66]
  • 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.[5]
  • 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.

Publications[edit]

Births[edit]

Deaths[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pears Cyclopaedia (90th ed.). pp. A 53. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Penguin Pocket On This Day. Penguin Reference Library. 2006. ISBN 0-14-102715-0. 
  3. ^ "About The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  4. ^ "Gunmen shoot civil rights campaigner". BBC News. 16 January 1981. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  5. ^ "Nine die in New Cross house fire". BBC News. 18 January 1981. Archived from the original on 21 January 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  6. ^ "1981: Dissident Labour MPs plan new party". BBC News. 25 January 1981. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  7. ^ "Laurence Olivier Selected For Exclusive Order Of Merit". Ocala Star-Banner. Google News. 6 February 1981. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  8. ^ "1981: Murdoch bids to take over Times". On This Day – 22 January. BBC. 22 January 1981. Retrieved 1 February 2011. 
  9. ^ "1981: Thatcher gives in to miners". BBC News. 18 February 1981. Archived from the original on 12 January 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  10. ^ "Prince Charles and Lady Di to marry". BBC News. 24 February 1981. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  11. ^ "Homebase in diy to stay says md". DIY Week. 4 January 2007. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  12. ^ "1981: M5 rapist jailed for life". BBC News. 9 March 1981. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  13. ^ a b "Move to halt race riots in Britain". New Sunday Times. 22 March 1981. Retrieved 22 March 2012. 
  14. ^ Scott-Elliot, Robin (25 March 2014). "Mike the Bike rides again: the tragic story of Mike Hailwood told in new documentary". The Independent. Retrieved 21 June 2017. 
  15. ^ Johnson, Maureen (23 March 1981). "Thatcher threatened by Conservative revolt". The Ledger. Lakeland, Florida. p. 7B. Retrieved 2 January 2013. 
  16. ^ "New measures to contain farm disease". BBC News. 23 March 1981. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  17. ^ "1981: Biggs rescued after kidnapping". BBC News. 24 March 1981. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  18. ^ "'Gang of four' launches new party". BBC News. 26 March 1981. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  19. ^ "'A Different Reality': minority struggle in British cities". Warwick.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 26 September 2011. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  20. ^ "1981: Triumph at first London Marathon". BBC News. 29 March 1981. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  21. ^ a b c d e f "Those were the days". Express & Star. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  22. ^ "Hunger striker elected MP". BBC News. 10 April 1981. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  23. ^ "Brixton ablaze after riot". BBC News. 11 April 1981. Archived from the original on 28 January 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  24. ^ "none". London Gazette (48579). 10 April 1981. 
  25. ^ "Linwood". Renfrewshire Council. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  26. ^ "The Trial: Week One". Execulink.com. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  27. ^ a b c d Palmer, Alan; Veronica (1992). The Chronology of British History. London: Century Ltd. pp. 445–446. ISBN 0-7126-5616-2. 
  28. ^ a b "1981 FA Cup Final". Fa-cupfinals.co.uk. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  29. ^ a b c d e f g h "Explore". Channel 4. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  30. ^ Lacey, David (27 May 1981). "Liverpool keep it in the family". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 9 January 2011. 
  31. ^ [1]
  32. ^ "1981: Queen shot at by youth". BBC News. 13 June 1981. Archived from the original on 3 January 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  33. ^ "HMS Ark Royal". kbismarck.com. Archived from the original on 24 November 2010. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  34. ^ "British Jobless at 2.85 Million". New York Times. 22 July 1981. Archived from the original on 1 July 2014. Retrieved 1 July 2014. 
  35. ^ "New Violence Hits 10 English Cities But Is Less Serious". New York Times. 12 July 1981. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 1 July 2014. 
  36. ^ "1981: Police attacked in Liverpool riots". BBC News. 5 July 1981. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  37. ^ "Rioting Youths Loot Shops, Fight Police in Britain". Toledo Blade. Google News. 13 July 1981. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  38. ^ [2]
  39. ^ "Liberal Democrat History Group". Liberalhistory.org.uk. 11 November 1920. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  40. ^ "Announcement of the christening of Lady Louise Windsor". Royal.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 31 December 2013. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  41. ^ "Charles and Diana marry". BBC News. 29 July 1981. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  42. ^ Revoir, Paul (7 October 2008). "The most watched TV shows of all time – and they are all old programmes". Daily Mail. UK. Retrieved 3 March 2011. 
  43. ^ "Newcastle Enterprise Zone". Itnsource.com. 25 August 1981. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  44. ^ "New Cavalier leads the General's charge". The Glasgow Herald. 26 August 1981. 
  45. ^ Cortright, David (2008). Peace: a History of Movements and Ideas. Cambridge University Press. 
  46. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-09. /ITN/1981/09/10/U10438/?s=Enterprise+Zone
  47. ^ "Bill Shankly – This website is a part of". Lfchistory.net. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  48. ^ "1981: IRA Maze hunger strikes at an end". BBC News. 3 October 1981. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  49. ^ "Depeche Mode: The Archives". Retrieved 22 March 2015. 
  50. ^ [3]
  51. ^ [4]
  52. ^ "Trend | Voting Intention in Great Britain: 1976–present". Ipsos MORI. Archived from the original on 21 February 2011. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  53. ^ "1981: CND rally attracts thousands". BBC News. 24 October 1981. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  54. ^ "1981: Euthanasia chief jailed over suicides". BBC News. 30 October 1981. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  55. ^ "Queen head all-time sales chart". BBC. 16 November 2006. Retrieved 3 March 2011. 
  56. ^ "BPI Highest Retail Sales" (PDF). British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  57. ^ "Queen becomes longest reigning chart act". Daily Mail. UK. 5 July 2005. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  58. ^ "Photo shows Telford’s expansion". Shropshire Star. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  59. ^ "1982 World Cup In Spain". Englandfc.com. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  60. ^ Dubois, R. M.; Braitwaite, M. A.; et al. (1981). "Primary Pneumocystis Carinii and Cytomegalovirus Infections". The Lancet. 2 (8259): 1339. PMID 6118728. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(81)91353-2. 
  61. ^ "1981: Lifeboat crew missing after mission". BBC News. 20 December 1981. Archived from the original on 23 December 2007. Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  62. ^ "Inflation: the Value of the Pound 1750–1998" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 February 2010. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  63. ^ "First places of devotion". Vaguely Interesting. 6 March 2013. Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  64. ^ "Great Cumbrae". Secret Scotland. Retrieved 6 July 2010. 
  65. ^ "Alto 1981 | Suzuki | Car Reviews". Honest John. 2 June 2010. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  66. ^ "SJ 1982 | Suzuki | Car Reviews". Honest John. 2 June 2010. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 

External links[edit]