1989 in the United Kingdom

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Events from the year 1989 in the United Kingdom.







  • 5 April – 500 workers on the Channel Tunnel go on strike in a protest against pay and working conditions.
  • 6 April – The government announces an end to the legislation which effectively guarantees secure work for more than 9,000 dockers over the remainder of their working lives.[12]
  • 10 April – Nick Faldo becomes the first English winner of Masters Tournament.[2]
  • 14 April – Ford unveils the latest version of its small Fiesta hatchback, which is being built at the Dagenham plant in England and the Valencia plant in Spain.
  • 15 April – 94 fans are killed in a crush during the FA Cup semi-final at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield during the FA Cup semi-final between Nottingham Forest FC and Liverpool F.C. Around 300 others have been hospitalized. Several of those injured are in a serious condition and there are fears that the death toll (already the worst of any sporting disaster in Britain) could rise even higher.[2] The youngest victim is a 10-year-old boy,[13] the oldest is 67-year-old Gerard Baron, brother of the late former Liverpool player Kevin Baron.[14]
  • 16 April – Denis Howell, a former Labour sports minister, urges for the FA Cup final to go ahead this season despite consideration by the Football Association for it to be cancelled due to the Hillsborough disaster.[15]
  • 17 April – Home Secretary Douglas Hurd announces plans to make all-seater stadiums compulsory for all Football League First Division clubs to reduce the risk of a repeat of the Hillsborough tragedy.
  • 18 April
    • The European Commission accuses Britain of failing to meet standards on drinking water.[16]
    • The Hillsborough disaster claims its 95th victim when 14-year-old Lee Nicol dies in hospital as a result of his injuries. He had been visited in hospital by Diana, Princess of Wales, hours before he died.[17]
    • Tottenham Hotspur remove perimeter fencing from their White Hart Lane stadium as the first step towards avoiding a repeat of the Hillsborough disaster in English football.[18]
  • 19 April
    • The Sun newspaper sparks outrage on Merseyside with an article entitled "The Truth", supported by South Yorkshire police and locally based news agencies, which claims that spectators robbed and injured dead spectators, and attacked police officers when they were helping the injured and dying. Other newspapers including the Daily Star and Daily Mirror, as well as several regional newspapers, have also printed similar allegations.
    • Channel Tunnel workers end their 14-day strike.
  • 20 April
    • The London Underground is at virtual standstill for a day as most of the workers go on strike in protest against plans for driver-only operated trains.
    • A MORI poll shows Conservative and Labour support equal at 41%.[8]
  • 24 April – The BBC's Ceefax teletext is only running as a partial service today due to a strike by broadcasting unions.[9]
  • 28 April
    • John Cannan, of Sutton Coldfield, is sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommendation that he should never be released after being found guilty of murdering one woman and sexually assaulting two others.[10]
    • Fourteen Liverpool fans are convicted of manslaughter and receive prison sentences of up to three years in Brussels, Belgium, in connection with the Heysel disaster at the 1985 European Cup Final in which 39 spectators (most of them Italian) died. A further eleven Liverpool fans are cleared.


  • 1–3 May – 54 prisoners stage a three-day protest on the roof of Risley Detention Centre before giving themselves up.[19]
  • 4 May – Margaret Thatcher completes ten years as prime minister – the first British prime minister of the 20th century to do so.
  • 5 May – The Vale of Glamorgan constituency in South Wales is seized by the Labour Party in a by-election after 38 years of Conservative control.
  • 8 May – More than 3,000 British Rail employees launch an unofficial overtime ban, walking out in protest at the end of their eight-hour shifts.
  • 14 May – A public inquiry, headed by Lord Justice Taylor of Gosforth, begins into the Hillsborough disaster.[20]
  • 18 May – Unemployment is now below 2,000,000 for the first time since 1980. The Conservative government's joy at tackling unemployment is, however, marred by the findings of a MORI poll which shows Labour slightly ahead of them for the first time in almost three years.[11]
  • 19 May – Walshaw Dean Lodge, West Yorkshire, enters the UK Weather Records with the Highest 120-min total rainfall at 193 mm. As of July 2006 this record still stands.[21]
  • 20 May – Liverpool win the FA Cup final with a 3–2 victory over their Merseyside rivals Everton. It is the second all-Merseyside cup final in four seasons, and as happened in 1986, Ian Rush is on the scoresheet for Liverpool twice. Liverpool have won the trophy four times now.[22]
  • 24 May
  • 26 May – Arsenal win the First Division league title against Liverpool, with a goal from Michael Thomas in the last minute of the last game of the season. Arsenal have now been league champions 9 times but until now hadn't been league champions for 18 years.[25]
  • 30 May – Passport office staff in Liverpool begin an indefinite strike in protest against staffing levels.


  • 19 June – Labour wins 45 of Britain's 78 European Parliament constituencies in the European elections, with the Conservatives gaining 32 seats. The Green Party of England and Wales gains 2,300,000 votes (15% of the vote) but fails to gain a single seat. This is the first national election won by the Labour Party since its last general election win 15 years ago.
  • 21 June – Police arrest 250 people celebrating the summer solstice at Stonehenge.
  • 22 June – London Underground workers stage their second one-day strike of the year.
  • 24 June – Race rioting breaks out in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, following a protest in the town against the Islamic community by members of the far right British National Party, formed 7 years ago as a splinter from the National Front.[12]


  • 1 July – Fears of a property market downturn are heightened when it is reported that many homeowners looking to move are cutting the asking price of their homes by up to 20% in an attempt to speed up the sale of their property, following the property boom of the last 3 years where the price of many homes doubled at the very least.
  • 2 July – An IRA bomb kills a British soldier in Hanover, West Germany.
  • 10 July – House prices in the south of England have fallen for the second successive quarter, but are continuing to rise in Scotland as well as the north of England.
  • 11 July – Britain's dock workers go on strike in protest against the abolition of the Dock Labour Scheme.
  • 13 July – The fall in unemployment continues, with the tally now standing at slightly over 1,800,000 – the lowest in nearly a decade.
  • 17 July – 1,500 British tourists are delayed for up to eight hours by French air traffic control strikes.
  • 19 July – The BBC programme Panorama accuses Shirley Porter, Conservative Leader of Westminster City Council, of gerrymandering.
  • 20 July – Labour's lead in the opinion polls has increased substantially, with the latest MORI poll putting them nine points ahead of the Conservatives on 45%.[13]
  • 25 July – The Princess of Wales opens the Landmark Aids Centre, a day centre for people with AIDS, in London.[26]
  • 28 July – The industrial action by British Rail drivers is reported to be coming to an end as most of the train drivers have ended their overtime ban.



  • 2 September – Economy experts warn that a recession could soon be about to hit the United Kingdom. This would be the second recession in a decade.
  • 7 September – Heidi Hazell, the 26-year-old wife of a British soldier, is shot dead in Dortmund, West Germany.
  • 8 September – The IRA admits responsibility for the murder of Heidi Hazell. The act is condemned as "evil and cowardly" by British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and as "the work of a psychopath" by Opposition Leader Neil Kinnock.
  • 12 September – 19,000 ambulance crew members across Britain go on strike.
  • 15 September – SLDP leader Paddy Ashdown addresses his party's annual conference in Brighton with a vow to "end Thatcherism" and achieve a long-term aim of getting the SLDP into power.
  • 22 September – Deal barracks bombing: The IRA bomb the Royal Marine School of Music in Deal, Kent killing 11 soldiers.[34]
  • 26 September – Nigel Lawson resigns as Chancellor of the Exchequer; replaced by John Major, while Douglas Hurd becomes Foreign Secretary.[3]*
  • 27 September – David Owen, leader of the Social Democratic Party "rump" which rejected a merger with the Social and Liberal Democrats, admits that his party is no longer a national force.
  • 29 September – House prices in London have fallen by 3.8% since May, and are now 16% lower than they were at the height of the property boom last year.[35]


  • 2 October – Three clergy claiming to be from the British Council of Protestants, including Ian Paisley, cause a disturbance at an Anglican church service in Rome at which the Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie is preaching in protest at his suggestion that the Pope could become the spiritual leader of a united church.[36]
  • 8 October – The latest CBI findings spark fear of a recession.
  • 10 October – The World Wrestling Federation holds its first UK event, at the London Arena.
  • 11 October
    • The Rover Group, Britain's largest independent carmaker, launches its new medium-sized hatchback, the 200 Series, which replaces the small four-door saloon of the same name, and gives buyers a more modern and upmarket alternative to the ongoing Maestro range, which has declined in popularity recently.
    • The England national football team qualifies for next summer's FIFA World Cup in Italy when drawing 0–0 with Poland in Warsaw.
  • 12 October – Michael Knighton drops his bid to buy Manchester United.
  • 15 October – Recession fears deepen as stock market prices continue to fall dramatically.
  • 16 October – The Social and Liberal Democrats, formed last year from the merger of the Social Democratic Party and Liberal Party, are renamed the Liberal Democrats.[37]
  • 19 October
    • The Guildford Four are released from prison after the High Court quashes their convictions for the 1975 terrorist atrocity.[38]
    • Labour now has a 10-point lead over the Conservatives in the last MORI poll, with 48% of the vote.[14]
  • 23 October – The police force are now taking 999 calls in London due to the ongoing strike by ambulance crews.
  • 31 October – British Rail announces that the proposed high-speed rail link to the Channel Tunnel is being postponed for at least one more year.


  • 2 November – Ford Motor Company takes over Jaguar in a £1.6billion deal.
  • 7 November
    • General Assembly of the Church of England votes to allow ordination of women.[3]
    • Don and Roy Richardson, developers of the new Merry Hill Shopping Centre in the West Midlands, announce plans to build the world's tallest building – a 2,000 foot tower including a hotel and nightclub – on land adjacent to the shopping complex, which becomes fully operational next week after five years of gradual development.[39]
  • 8 November – British Army and Royal Air Force troops are now manning London's ambulance services as the regular ambulance crews are still on strike.
  • 10 November – Margaret Thatcher visits Berlin the day after the fall of the Berlin Wall, which brings the reunification of Germany forward after Germans were allowed to travel between West and East Berlin for the first time since the wall was built in 1961, and between West and East Germany for the first time since the partition of the country after the war.
  • 14 November – The Merry Hill Shopping Centre on the Dudley Enterprise Zone in the West Midlands becomes fully operational with the opening of the final shopping mall. The development, which now employs around 6,000 people, first opened to retailers four years ago with several retail warehousing units, and has gradually expanded to become Europe's largest indoor shopping centre. Construction has now begun on the Waterfront office and leisure complex, also within the Enterprise Zone and overlooking the shopping centre, which will open to its first tenants next year.[40]
  • 16 November – Children Act alters the law in regard to children in England and Wales; in particular, it introduces the notion of parental responsibility in access and custody matters.
  • 21 November
  • 23 November – 69-year-old backbencher Sir Anthony Meyer challenges Margaret Thatcher's leadership of the Conservative Party, reportedly fearing that the party will lose the next general election after falling behind Labour in several recent opinion polls. Her leadership has never been challenged before in almost 15 years as party leader, more than 10 of which have been spent as prime minister.
  • 30 November – Russell Shankland and Dean Hancock, serving eight-year prison sentences for the manslaughter of taxi driver David Wilkie in South Wales during the miners strike, are released from prison on the fifth anniversary of the crime.[41]


  • December
    • The M42 motorway is completed when the final section opens, giving the town of Bromsgrove in Worcestershire (some 10 miles south of Birmingham) a direct link with the M5. Also completed this month is the section of the M40 between Warwick and the interchange with the M42 just south of Solihull. The rest of the M40, between Warwick and Oxford, will open next winter.[16]
    • Last coypu in the wild in Britain is trapped in East Anglia.[42]
    • The Beer Orders restrict the number of tied pubs that can be owned by large brewery groups to two thousand and require large brewer landlords to allow a guest ale to be sourced by tenants from someone other than their landlord.
  • 3 December
  • 5 December – Margaret Thatcher defeats Anthony Meyer in a leadership election for the Conservative Party, but 60 MPs do not vote for her.[43]
  • 6 December – Doctor Who is discontinued by the BBC after 26 years.[44]
  • 8 December – ITV attracts a new record audience of nearly 27,000,000 for the episode of Coronation Street in which Alan Bradley (Mark Eden) is fatally run over by a Blackpool tram.
  • 12 December – Shares in newly privatised regional water industry utility companies (including the largest, Thames Water) achieve premiums of up to 68% in the first day of trading on the Stock Exchange.
  • 18 December
  • 23 December – Band Aid II gain the Christmas Number One with their charity record. 5 years ago, the original Band Aid single reached number 1 and achieved the highest sales of any single ever released in the UK.
  • 27 December – SDP leader David Owen predicts another 10 years of Conservative rule, despite Neil Kinnock's Labour Party having a seven-point lead over the Conservatives with 46% of the vote in the final MORI poll of the decade.[18]
  • 30 December – 22 people involved in the Lockerbie disaster are among those recognised in the New Year's Honours list, while there are knighthoods for former Liberal leader David Steel and the actress Maggie Smith becomes a Dame. Recipients of sporting honours include the boxer Frank Bruno and the golfer Tony Jacklin, both of whom are credited with MBEs.


  • Inflation increases significantly this year, standing at 7.8% – the highest for seven years.[19]
  • Fears of a recession are deepened by the economy's overall growth rate dropping to 1.7%, the lowest since 1981.[20]
  • House prices in London fall to an average of £86,800 this year – a 10% decrease on the 1988 average.
  • After spending most of the decade closed down, Whiteleys in London re-opens as a shopping centre.
  • First showing of the clay animation film A Grand Day Out introducing the characters Wallace and Gromit.
  • Remains of The Rose and Globe Theatre discovered in London.[46]
  • Permanent gates are installed across Downing Street in London by the end of the year.[47]
  • Red kites reintroduced to England and Scotland.[48]
  • A record of more than 2.3 million new cars are sold in Britain this year. The Ford Escort is Britain's best selling car for the eighth year running, managing more than 180,000 sales, while the Volkswagen Golf is Britain's most popular foreign car with well over 50,000 sales. Ford achieves the largest sales of any carmaker in Britain for the 15th year in a row, while Vauxhall has now overtaken the Rover Group as Britain's second best selling carmaker. The UK new car sales record has been broken six times in the last seven years.




See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "1989: Dozens die as plane crashes on motorway". BBC News. 8 January 1989. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  2. ^ a b c d Penguin Pocket On This Day. Penguin Reference Library. 2006. ISBN 0-14-102715-0. 
  3. ^ a b c d Palmer, Alan; Veronica (1992). The Chronology of British History. London: Century Ltd. p. 456. ISBN 0-7126-5616-2. 
  4. ^ McManus, Darragh (10 February 2009). "Darragh McManus on how Home and Away made it to 20". the Guardian. 
  5. ^ "1989: Belfast lawyer Finucane murdered". BBC News. 12 February 1989. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  6. ^ "1989: Ayatollah sentences author to death". BBC News. 14 February 1989. Archived from the original on 17 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  7. ^ "1989: IRA bombs Tern Hill barracks". BBC News. 20 February 1989. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ Sabbagh, Dan (8 February 2010). "Is EastEnders the lifeblood of the BBC?". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  10. ^ "1989: Six die in Purley rail crash". BBC News. 4 March 1989. Archived from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  11. ^ "1989: Senior RUC men die in gun attack". BBC News. 20 March 1989. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  12. ^ "1989: Dockers' 'jobs for life' scrapped". BBC News. 6 April 1989. Archived from the original on 22 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  13. ^ "Liverpool Echo: Latest Liverpool and Merseyside news, sports and what's on". www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk. 
  14. ^ Echo, Liverpool (15 April 2009). "Gerard Baron Snr, 67". 
  15. ^ [2]
  16. ^ [3]
  17. ^ Echo, Liverpool (15 April 2009). "Lee Nicol, 14". 
  18. ^ [4]
  19. ^ "1989: The Risley prisoners' uprising". libcom.org. Retrieved 2018-04-03. 
  20. ^ [5]
  21. ^ "Extreme weather". Met Office. Archived from the original on 29 December 2010. Retrieved 2008-04-09. 
  22. ^ "1989 FA Cup Final Match – Liverpool vs Everton". www.fa-cupfinals.co.uk. 
  23. ^ "1989: Yorkshire Ripper's wife wins damages". BBC News. 24 May 1989. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  24. ^ Dorn, Nicholas; Murji, Karim; South, Nigel (25 January 1992). "Traffickers: Drug Markets and Law Enforcement". Psychology Press – via Google Books. 
  25. ^ "{title}". Archived from the original on 23 April 2011. Retrieved 29 May 2014. 
  26. ^ "1989: Diana opens Landmark Aids Centre". BBC News. 25 July 1989. Archived from the original on 15 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  27. ^ "1989: Britain's oldest person turns 112". BBC News. 1 August 1989. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  28. ^ "Photo of 50025 at West Ealing, August 1989". Rail Blue. Retrieved 16 March 2016. 
  29. ^ "1989: Man U sold in record takeover deal". BBC News. 18 August 1989. Archived from the original on 1 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  30. ^ "1989: Marchioness river crash 'kills 30'". BBC News. 20 August 1989. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  31. ^ Sophie Elmhirst, "After the coal rush", New Statesman, 22 June 2011.
  32. ^ [6]
  33. ^ "1989: Royal couple to separate". BBC News. 31 August 1989. Retrieved 30 March 2011. 
  34. ^ "1989: Ten dead in Kent barracks bomb". BBC News. 22 September 1989. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  35. ^ "What were the papers saying before, during and after the last house price crash?". HousePriceCrash.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-11-02. 
  36. ^ "1989: Anglican anger over united church". BBC News. 2 October 1989. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  37. ^ Duffett, Helen (4 July 2010). "The coalition "marriage" – should we keep our name?". Liberal Democrat Voice. Retrieved 2010-11-02. 
  38. ^ "1989: Guildford Four released after 15 years". BBC News. 19 October 1989. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  39. ^ [7]
  40. ^ "Our New Website is Under Construction" (PDF). richardsons.co.uk. 
  41. ^ "Blunkett told of 'Valleys drug menace'". BBC News. 1 October 2002. Retrieved 10 February 2011. 
  42. ^ Baker, Simon (2006). "The eradication of coypus (Myocastor coypus) from Britain". In Koike, Fumito; et al. Assessment and Control of Biological Invasion Risks (PDF). Kyoto: Shoukadoh. pp. 142–7. ISBN 978-4-87974-604-7. Retrieved 27 August 2010. 
  43. ^ "1989: Thatcher beats off leadership rival". BBC News. 5 December 1989. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  44. ^ "Doctor Who – The Doctor Who Site". www.thedoctorwhosite.co.uk. 
  45. ^ "1989: Labour's union U-turn". BBC News. 18 December 1989. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  46. ^ a b The Hutchinson Factfinder. Helicon. 1999. ISBN 1-85986-000-1. 
  47. ^ Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 9 Jan 1990". Publications.parliament.uk. 
  48. ^ "Red Kite". RSPB Conservation. Retrieved 2009-10-26.