1983 in the United Kingdom

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1983 in the United Kingdom
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Events from the year 1983 in the United Kingdom.




  • 1 January – the British Nationality Act 1981 comes into effect creating five classes of British nationality.
  • 3 January – CITV is launched.
  • 6 January – Danish fishermen defy the British government's prohibition on non-UK boats entering its coastal waters.
  • 14 January – Stephen Waldorf shooting: Armed policeman shoot and severely injure an innocent car passenger in London, believing him to be escaped prisoner David Martin.
  • 17 January
    • First British breakfast time television programme, Breakfast Time, broadcast by the BBC.
    • The wearing of seatbelts becomes compulsory in the front of passenger cars, eleven years after they become compulsory equipment on new cars sold in Britain.[1]
  • 19 January – the two policemen who wounded Stephen Waldorf are charged with attempted murder and released on bail; they are suspended from duty pending further investigation.
  • 23 January – the ban on non-British boats in British waters is lifted as the European Economic Community's Common Fisheries Policy comes into effect.[2]
  • 25 January – the Infrared Astronomical Satellite, the first-ever space-based observatory to perform a survey of the entire sky at infrared wavelengths, is launched. The satellite is a joint project between the American space agency NASA, the Netherlands Agency for Aerospace Programmes and the UK's Science and Engineering Research Council.[3]
  • 26 January – red rain falls in the UK, caused by sand from the Sahara Desert in the droplets.
  • 28 January – escaped prisoner David Martin is re-arrested.
  • 31 January – seatbelt use for drivers and front seat passengers becomes mandatory, 11 years after becoming compulsory equipment.[4]


  • 1 February – TV-am broadcasts for the first time.[4]
  • 3 February: unemployment stands at a record high of 3,224,715 – though the previous high reached in the Great Depression of the early 1930s accounted for a higher percentage of the workforce.
  • 10 February – the dismembered remains of at least fifteen young men are found at a house in Muswell Hill, North London, victims of Dennis Nilsen.
  • 15 February – the Austin Metro is now Britain's best selling car, having outsold every other new car registered in the UK during January.
  • 24 February – Labour candidate Peter Tatchell loses the Bermondsey by-election to the Liberal Party's Simon Hughes. The Official Monster Raving Loony Party first contests an election under this label.
  • 26 February – Patrick Jennings, 37-year-old Arsenal and Northern Ireland goalkeeper, becomes the first player in the English game to appear in 1,000 senior football matches.



  • April – Vauxhall launches the Nova supermini with a range of three-door hatchbacks and two-door saloons. It is the first Vauxhall to be built outside the United Kingdom, being assembled at the Zaragoza plant in Spain where it was launched seven months ago as the Opel Corsa, but plans to launch it on the British market had been attacked by trade unions who were angry at the fact that it would not be built in Britain. Its launch is expected to result in the end of Vauxhall Chevette production in Britain.[7]
  • 1 April
    • Thousands of protesters form a 14-mile human chain in reaction to the siting of American nuclear weapons in British military bases.[8]
    • The government expels three Russians named as KGB agents by a Soviet defector.
  • 4 April – the biggest cash haul in British history sees gunmen escape with £7 million from a Security Express van in London.
  • 11 April – Richard Attenborough's 1982 film Gandhi wins eight Academy Awards.[4]
  • 21 April – the one pound coin introduced in England and Wales.[4]


  • 9 May – Margaret Thatcher calls a general election for 9 June. Opinion polls show her on course for victory with the Tories 8–12 points ahead of Labour, and they are widely expected to form a significant overall majority due to the split in left-wing votes caused by the Alliance, who are now aiming to take Labour's place in opposition.[9]
  • 16 May – wheel clamps are first used to combat illegal parking in London.[10]
  • 21 May – Manchester United and Brighton & Hove Albion draw 2–2 in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium. The replay will be held in five days time.[11]
  • 26 May
    • Manchester United defeat Brighton & Hove Albion 4–0 in the FA Cup final replay at Wembley Stadium. Bryan Robson scores two of the goals, with the other two coming from Arnold Muhren and 18-year-old Norman Whiteside.[11]
    • Opinion polls suggest that the Conservatives are looking set to be re-elected with a landslide. A MORI poll puts them on 51%, 22 points ahead of Labour.[4]



  • 7 July – new chancellor Nigel Lawson announces public spending cuts of £500 million.
  • 13 July
  • 15 July – much of the country embraces a heatwave as temperatures reach 33 °C in London.
  • 16 July – a helicopter crash occurred on the Isles of Scilly, killing 20.
  • 19 July – a large new model of a flesh-eating dinosaur is erected at the Natural History Museum.[5]
  • 21 July – former prime minister Harold Wilson is one of 17 life peerages announced today, having stood down from parliament last month after 38 years as MP for Huyton, near Liverpool.
  • 22 July – production of the Ford Orion four-door saloon begins. The Orion is the saloon version of the Escort, but is also aimed at buyers of larger family saloon cars like the recently discontinued Cortina. It goes on sale this autumn, and is produced at the Halewood plant in Liverpool as well as the Valencia plant in Spain which also produces the smaller Fiesta.
  • 26 July – a Catholic mother of ten, Victoria Gillick, loses a case in the High Court of Justice against the DHSS. Her application sought to prevent the distribution of contraceptives to children under the age of 16 without parental consent. The case goes to the House of Lords in 1985 when it is decided that it is legal for doctors to prescribe contraceptives to under-16s without parental consent in exceptional circumstances ("Gillick competence").[17]
  • 1 to 31 July – the two hundredth anniversary of the previous hottest month in the CET series sees a new record for heat with a monthly mean CET of 19.5 °C or 67.1 °F – 0.7 °C or 1.3 °F hotter than July 1783.[18]


  • August – the second generation Ford Fiesta is launched, featuring a major restyle of the original model which began production seven years ago and was faced with a host of new competitors in recent months from Vauxhall, Peugeot, Fiat and Nissan.
  • 1 August – the new A-prefix car registration plates are launched, helping spur on the recovery in car sales following the slump at the start of the decade caused by the recession.
  • 5 August – 22 Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) members receive sentences totalling over 4,000 years from a Belfast Court.[4]
  • 19 August – temperatures reach 30 °C in London, as hot weather embraces the United Kingdom.
  • 29 August – ITV launches Blockbusters, a gameshow hosted by Bob Holness and featuring sixth formers as its contestants.





  • 4 December – an SAS undercover operation ends in the shooting and killing of two IRA gunmen, a third is injured.[26]
  • 6 December – first heart and lung transplant carried out in Britain at Harefield.[27]
  • 8 December – the House of Lords votes to allow television broadcast of its proceedings.[28]
  • 10 December – William Golding wins the Nobel Prize in Literature "for his novels which, with the perspicuity of realistic narrative art and the diversity and universality of myth, illuminate the human condition in the world of today".[29]
  • 17 December – an IRA car bomb kills six, three police and three members of the public, and injures 90 outside Harrods in London.[30]
  • 25 December (Christmas Day) – a second IRA bomb explodes in Oxford Street, but this time nobody is injured.[1]


  • The compact disc is first marketed in Britain.[10]
  • Designer and entrepreneur James Dyson produces his prototype vacuum cleaner.
  • Hanson Trust takes over United Drapery Stores (UDS) to realise the assets of its high street shops.[31]
  • Thames Water shuts down the reciprocating stationary steam engines at its Waddon pumping station in Croydon, the last in Britain to pump drinking water by steam.[32]
  • Saga Magazine begins publication.
  • Despite unemployment remaining in excess of 3 million, the battle against inflation which has largely contributed to mass unemployment is being won as inflation falls to 4.6% – the lowest level since 1966.[33]
  • The economic recovery continues with 4.7% overall growth for the year – the highest for any year since 1973. The year also sees unbroken economic growth for the first time since 1978.[6]
  • Japanese carmaker Nissan, which plans to open a factory in Britain by 1986, drops the Datsun marque on British registered cars after nearly two decades and adopts the Nissan brand in its place.




See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "1983". Those were the days. Wolverhampton: Express & Star. Retrieved 2014-08-01. 
  2. ^ ""1983: Danes raid British fishing grounds", On This Day, 6 January 1983". BBC News. 6 January 1983. Archived from the original on 27 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 
  3. ^ Gilliland, Ben (16 January 2009). "Science & Discovery". Metro. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Penguin Pocket On This Day. Penguin Reference Library. 2006. ISBN 0-14-102715-0. 
  5. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/electricdreams/1980s/compactdisc
  6. ^ a b c d Williams, Hywel (2005). Cassell's Chronology of World History. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. pp. 605–607. ISBN 0-304-35730-8. 
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ "1983: Human chain links nuclear sites". BBC News. 1 April 1983. Archived from the original on 6 January 2008. Retrieved 2007-11-29. 
  9. ^ [2]
  10. ^ a b c Palmer, Alan; Veronica (1992). The Chronology of British History. London: Century Ltd. pp. 448–449. ISBN 0-7126-5616-2. 
  11. ^ a b "FA Cup Final 1983". Archived from the original on 31 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  12. ^ http://www.number10.gov.uk/history-and-tour/prime-ministers-in-history/tony-blair
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 May 2010. Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  14. ^ "British General Elections". History Learning Site. Retrieved 2012-03-21. 
  15. ^ "1983: Thatcher wins landslide victory". BBC News. 9 June 1983. Retrieved 10 April 2011. 
  16. ^ The Hutchinson Factfinder. Helicon. 1999. ISBN 1-85986-000-1. 
  17. ^ ""1983: Mother loses contraception test case", On This Day, 26 July 1983". BBC News. 26 July 1983. Archived from the original on 23 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 
  18. ^ Hadley Centre Ranked Central England temperature
  19. ^ "1983: Dozens escape in Maze break-out". BBC News. 25 September 1983. Archived from the original on 23 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 
  20. ^ "1983: 'Dream ticket' wins Labour leadership". BBC News. 2 October 1983. Archived from the original on 18 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 
  21. ^ "FIA land speed records, Cat C" (PDF). FIA. Retrieved 2009-07-12. 
  22. ^ "1983: CND march attracts biggest ever crowd", On This Day, 22 October 1983". BBC News. 22 October 1983. Archived from the original on 24 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 
  23. ^ "1983: Nilsen 'strangled and mutilated' victims". BBC News. 24 October 1983. Archived from the original on 25 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 
  24. ^ "1983: England fans rampage in Luxembourg". BBC News. 16 November 1983. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  25. ^ "1983: £25m gold heist at Heathrow". BBC News. 26 November 1983. Archived from the original on 17 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 
  26. ^ "1983: IRA gunmen shot dead in SAS ambush". BBC News. 4 December 1983. Archived from the original on 6 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 
  27. ^ "1983: Transplant makes British medical history". BBC News. 6 December 1983. Archived from the original on 9 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 
  28. ^ "1983: Television cameras allowed into Lords". BBC News. 8 December 1983. Archived from the original on 14 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 
  29. ^ The Nobel Prize in Literature 1983
  30. ^ "1983: Harrods bomb blast kills six". BBC News. 17 December 1983. Archived from the original on 19 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 
  31. ^ "Lord Hanson". The Times. London. 3 November 2004. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  32. ^ "The James Simpson, or Waddon, Engine". London: Kew Bridge Steam Museum. 1999. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  33. ^ "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 16 February 2010. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  34. ^ [3]

External links[edit]