A Nostalgia Trip through 1980s Great Britain & Northern Ireland.

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The UK in 1980

1980 saw the first CND rallies at Greenham Common, the opening of the Alton Towers theme park and the murder of John Lennon outside of his apartment in New York, USA.

In sport, Liverpool won the league, West Ham won the cup and we saw the famous clashes between Steve Ovett and Seb Coe at the Moscow Olympics.

Read on to check out the events of 1980 in the UK.

Greenham Common
Greenham Common CND Rally, 1980

January 1980

2nd: Over 90,000 steelworkers go on strike.

It is the first steelworks strike since 1926.

20th: 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.

21st: MS Athina B is beached at Brighton.

Live and Let Die
23.5 million people tune in to watch Live and Let Die on ITV in January 1980

February 1980

14th: Margaret Thatcher announces that state benefit to strikers will be halved.

14th-23rd: Winter Olympics at Lake Placid –  Robin Cousins wins Britain’s only gold in figure skating.

Robin Cousins, Gold, Lake Placid
Robin Cousins wins gold at the Winter Olympics

17th: British Steel Corporation announces 11,000 jobs to be axed at its plants in Wales by the end of March.

25th: Manchester United Chairman Louis Edwards dies from a heart attack weeks after being investigated by BBC’s World in Action for financial discrepancies

March 1980

3rd: England secure the Rugby Union Grand Slam with a 30-18 win at Murrayfield over Scotland.

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15th: Wolves win the League Cup beating Nottingham Forest 1-0 at Wembley.

19th: Radio Caroline, the pirate radio station, is forced to cease transmission when the ship on which it is based, runs aground and sinks off the Thames Estuary.

25th:  The British Olympic Association vote to send athletes to the Moscow Olympic Games against Government wishes.

Robert Runcie enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury.

26th: Geoffrey Howe announces the budget and raises tax allowances and increases duties on petrol, alcohol and tobacco.

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April 1980

1st: The steelworkers’ national strike is called off.

4th: Alton Towers opens for the first time in Staffordshire. The Corkscrew rollercoaster, the Pirate Ship and the Alpine Bob sled ride are the key attractions.

10th: The UK reaches agreement with Spain to re-open its border with Gibraltar.

18th: Zimbabwe becomes independent of the United Kingdom.

30th: The Iranian Embassy Siege begins. 6 terrorists take 26 hostages.

May 1980

1st: British Aerospace privatised.

3rd: Liverpool win the Football League title for 12th time.

Hull KR defeat rivals Hull 10-5 in front of 95,000 people at Wembley to win the Rugby League Challenge Cup.

5th: The SAS storm the Iranian Embassy building, kill 5 out of the 6 terrorists and free all the hostages.

10th: Second Division West Ham United win the FA Cup with a 1–0 victory over Arsenal in the final at Wembley Stadium with a goal from Trevor Brooking.

Celtic defeat Rangers 1-0 in a Scottish Cup Final marred by rioting after the match.

28th: Nottingham Forest retain the European Cup with a 1–0 win over SV Hamburg.

June 1980

17th: Defence Secretary, Francis Pym reveals to the House of Commons that US nuclear cruise missiles will be located at RAF Greenham Common in Berkshire and the disused RAF Molesworth base in Cambridgeshire.

19th: Iraqi security forces shot dead three gunmen who attacked the British embassy in Iraq.

24th: Unemployment is announced to have reached a postwar high of 1.6 million.

26th: Glasgow Central by-election is held, with Labour retaining its hold on the seat despite a swing of 14% to the Scottish National Party.

30th: The sixpence coin is withdrawn from circulation.

The end of the road for the British Sixpence came in 1980

July 1980

5th: Evonne Goolagong Cawley beats Chris Evert Lloyd 6-1 7-6 to win her 3rd Wimbledon title.

6th: Bjorn Borg defeats John McEnroe in 5 sets to win his fifth and final Wimbledon title.

10th: Alexandra Palace in London gutted by fire.

19th: Great Britain and Northern Ireland compete at the Olympics in Moscow and win 5 gold, 7 silver and 9 bronze medals.

Middle distance runners Seb Coe and Steve Ovett share the spoils in two eagerly anticipated clashes over 800m and 1500m.

22nd: Unemployment hits a 44-year high of nearly 1.9 million.

29th: Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher announces the introduction of Enterprise Zones as an employment relief effort in some of regions of Britain.

August 1980

11th: Tyne and Wear Metro opens on Tyneside after 6 years construction, with the first phase between Haymarket in Newcastle and Whitley Bay

15th:  37 people die as a result of fires started by arson at adjacent London nightclubs.

28th: Unemployment reaches 2million for the first time since 1935.

September 1980

1st: Ford launches the Mark 3 Escort.

9th: MV Derbyshire sinks with the loss of all 44 crew south off Japan in Typhoon Orchid. It is the largest UK-registered ship ever lost.

11th: The Marlborough diamond is stolen in London.

12th: Consett Steelworks in County Durham closes with the loss of 4500 jobs.

21st: The first CND rally at RAF Greenham Common takes place.

Greenham Common
Greenham Common 1980

24th: 34 year old doctor  Upadhya Bandara is attacked and injured in Headingley, Leeds. The so-called Yorkshire Ripper is believed to have been responsible.

October 1980

3rd: The 1980 Housing Act comes into effect, allowing council house tenants of three years’ standing  the right to buy their home from their local council at a discount.

6th: Dundee United beat Dundee 3-0 in the Scottish League Cup final.

10th: Margaret Thatcher makes her famous “The lady’s not for turning” speech to the Conservative Party conference after MP’s warn that her policies are responsible for rising unemployment.

15th: James Callaghan, resigns as Labour Party leader.

17th: Elizabeth II makes history by becoming the first British monarch to make a state visit to the Vatican.

22nd: Lord Thomson announces that The Times and Sunday Times will be closed down within five months unless a buyer is found.

24th: MG car production ends after 56 years with the closure of the plant in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

28th: Margaret Thatcher declares that the government will not give in to seven jailed IRA terrorists who are on hunger strike in the Maze Prison.

December 1980

8th: John Lennon is shot dead in New York.

14th: Thousands of music fans hold a 10-minute vigil in Liverpool for John Lennon.

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18th: A 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.


Radio Times 1980 Christmas Cover

Christmas/New Year 1980

British television premiere of the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun on ITV.

The Christmas Number one was “Grandma, we love you” by St. Winifried’s school choir.

TV Times Christmas Cover 1980

27th: The UK Christmas Number One is “Grandma, we love you” by St. Winifried’s school choir.

28th: TV-am is awarded the first ever breakfast TV contract, and is set to go on air by 1983.

30th: The BBC announce they will launch their own Breakfast TV show to compete with TV-am

Check out other years of the 1980s:

Your Memories?

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