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

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The UK in 1983

1983 saw Breakfast Television arrive on television.

Margaret Thatcher, Conservative Prime Minister wins a landslide victory in the general election.

38 IRA prisoners escape from HM Prison Maze in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Margaret Thatcher 1983
Margaret Thatcher, 1983

January 1983

1st: The British Nationality Act 1981 comes into effect creating five classes of British nationality.

3rd: CITV is launched.

6th: Danish fishermen defy the British government’s prohibition on non-UK boats entering its coastal waters.

14th: Stephen Waldorf shooting: Armed policeman shoot and severely injure an innocent car passenger in London, believing him to be escaped prisoner David Martin.

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17th: 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.

19th: The two policemen who wounded Stephen Waldorf are charged with attempted murder and released on bail; they are suspended from duty pending further investigation.

23rd: The ban on non-British boats in British waters is lifted as the European Economic Community’s Common Fisheries Policy comes into effect.

25th: The Infrared Astronomical Satellite is launched.

26th: Red rain falls in the UK, caused by sand from the Sahara Desert in the droplets.

28th: Escaped prisoner David Martin is re-arrested.

31st: Seatbelt use for drivers and front seat passengers becomes mandatory, 11 years after becoming compulsory equipment.

February 1983

1st: TV-am broadcasts for the first time.

3rd: 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.

10th: The dismembered remains of at least fifteen young men are found at a house in Muswell Hill, North London, victims of Dennis Nilsen.

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24th: 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.

26th: Pat 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.

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March 1983

1st: The compact disc (CD) goes on sale in the United Kingdom.

The Austin Maestro is launched.

15th: The Budget raises tax allowances, and cuts taxes by £2 billion.

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19th: France win the 5 Nations Championship in Rugby Union, sealing the title with a 16-9 win over Wales in Paris.

26th: Liverpool win the Football League Cup for the third year in succession, beating Manchester United 2–1 in the final at Wembley Stadium.

28th: Ian MacGregor appointed as head of the National Coal Board.

April 1983

1st: Thousands of protesters form a 14-mile human chain in reaction to the siting of American nuclear weapons in British military bases.

The government expels three Russians named as KGB agents by a Soviet defector.

4th: The biggest cash haul in British history sees gunmen escape with £7 million from a Security Express van in London.

11th: Richard Attenborough’s 1982 film Gandhi wins eight Academy Awards.

21st: The one pound coin introduced in England and Wales.

May 1983

9th: 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.

14th: Liverpool win the football league championship.  Bob Paisley steps down as manager.

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16th: Wheel clamps are first used to combat illegal parking in London.

21st: Manchester United and Brighton & Hove Albion draw 2–2 in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium.

26th: Manchester United defeat Brighton & Hove Albion 4–0 in the FA Cup final replay at Wembley Stadium.

June 1983

1st: Jockey Lester Pigott rides Teenoso to victory at the Epsom Derby, Pigott’s ninth win.

9th: Margaret Thatcher, Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom since 1979, wins a landslide victory in the general election with a majority of 144 seats.

The election is also a disappointment for the SDP-Liberal Alliance, who come close behind Labour in votes but are left with a mere 23 MPs in the new parliament compared to Labour’s 209. The election also sees the retirement of former prime minister Harold Wilson after 38 years as a Labour MP.

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10th: Computer tycoon Clive Sinclair is knighted.

12th: Michael Foot resigns as leader of the Labour Party. Neil Kinnock, shadow spokesman for education and MP for Islwyn in South Wales, is tipped to succeed him; however, the successor will not be confirmed until this autumn.

14th: Roy Jenkins resigns as leader of the SDP and is succeeded by David Owen. Although the SDP gained 25% (around 7 million) of the votes and fell just short of Labour in terms of votes, they attained only a fraction of the number of seats won by Labour.

15th: The first episode of historical sitcom Blackadder is broadcast on BBC One.

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16th: National Museum of Photography, Film and Television opens in Bradford.

July 1983

7th: New chancellor Nigel Lawson announces public spending cuts of £500 million.

13th: Neil Kinnock escapes uninjured when his Ford Sierra overturns on the M4 motorway in Berkshire.

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MP’s vote 361-245 against the reinstatement of the death penalty, 18 years after its abolition.

15th: The country embraces a heatwave as temperatures reach 33 °C in London.

16th: A helicopter crash occurred near the Isles of Scilly, killing 20.

21st: 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.

22nd: Production of the Ford Orion four-door saloon begins at the Halewood plant in Liverpool.

26th: 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. 

August 1983

1st: 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.

The new Ford Fiesta is launched.

5th: Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) members receive sentences totalling over 4,000 years from a Belfast Court.

19th: Temperatures reach 30 °C in London, as hot weather continues to embrace the United Kingdom.

29th: ITV launches Blockbusters, a gameshow hosted by Bob Holness and featuring sixth formers as its contestants.

September 1983

1st: Ian MacGregor becomes chairman of the National Coal Board.

8th: The National Health Service privatises cleaning, catering and laundering services in a move which Social Services Secretary Norman Fowler predicts will save between £90 million and £180 million a year.

11th: The SDP Conference voted against a merger with the Liberals until at least 1988.

21st: The England national football team lose 1–0 to Denmark at Wembley Stadium in the penultimate qualifying game for Euro 84, making qualification unlikely.

22nd: Docklands redevelopment in East London begins with the opening of an Enterprise Zone on the Isle of Dogs.

25th: Maze Prison escape: 38 IRA prisoners armed with six guns hijack a lorry and escape from HM Prison Maze in County Antrim, Northern Ireland; one guard dies of a heart attack and 20 others are injured in the attempt to foil the escape, the largest prison escape since World War II and in British history. 19 escapees are later apprehended.

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30th: in the latest crackdown on football hooliganism, seven Wolves fans are convicted of taking part in a fight near the club’s stadium.

October 1983

2nd: Neil Kinnock is elected leader of the Labour Party following the retirement of Michael Foot. Kinnock attracted more than 70% of the votes, and names Roy Hattersley (who came second with nearly 20%) as his deputy.

4th: Richard Noble, driving the British turbojet-powered car Thrust2, takes the land speed record to 634.051 mph (1020.406 km/h) over 1 km (633.47 mph (1019.47 km/h) over 1 mile) at Black Rock Desert in the United States, an increase of 40 mph over the previous kilometre record.

7th: A plan to abolish the Greater London Council is announced.

14th: Cecil Parkinson resigns as Trade and Industry Secretary following revelations about his relationship with Sarah Keays.

22nd: Over a million people demonstrate against nuclear weapons at a Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament march in London.

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24th: Arthur Hutchinson kills three members of the Laitner family and rapes their daughter in the Sheffield suburb of Dore.

Dennis Nilsen goes on trial at the Central Criminal Court accused of six murders and two attempted murders. He confesses to murdering “15 or 16” men.

25th: American forces invade the Commonwealth country of Grenada.
Roy Griffiths presents his report on general management of the National Health Service.

November 1983

4th: Dennis Nilsen is sentenced to life imprisonment.

5th: five workers on the Byford Dolphin semi-submersible oil rig are killed in an explosive decompression while drilling in the Frigg gas field in the North Sea.

13th: The first United States cruise missiles arrive at RAF Greenham Common in Berkshire amid protests from peace campaigners at the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp.

Gerry Adams takes office as elected leader of Sinn Féin.

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16th: England beat Luxembourg 4–0 in their final Euro 84 qualifying game but still fail to qualify for next summer’s tournament in France as Denmark also win their final qualifying game. After the game, more than 20 England fans are arrested after going on a violent rampage in Luxembourg.

18th: Walton sextuplets: 31-year-old Liverpool woman Janet Walton gives birth to female sextuplets following fertility treatment.

23rd: The 23-mile M54 motorway opens, giving the M6 north of Wolverhampton a link with the new town of Telford in Shropshire.

24th: Fifteen-year-old Lynda Mann is found raped and strangled in the village of Narborough, Leicestershire.

26th: Brink’s-Mat robbery: In London, 6,800 gold bars worth nearly £26 million are taken from the Brink’s-Mat vault at Heathrow Airport. Only a fraction of the gold is ever recovered, and only two men are convicted of the crime.

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December 1983

4th: An SAS undercover operation ends in the shooting and killing of two IRA gunmen, a third is injured.

6th: The first heart and lung transplant is carried out in Britain at Harefield.

8th: The House of Lords votes to allow television broadcast of its proceedings.

10th: 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”.

17th: An IRA car bomb kills six, three police and three members of the public, and injures 90 outside Harrods in London.

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25th: a second IRA bomb explodes in Oxford Street, but this time nobody is injured.

Radio Times Christmas Cover 1983

Christmas/New Year 1983

Superman is shown as the Christmas feature film on ITV.

The Christmas Number one was “Only you” by The Flying Pickets.

TV Times Christmas Cover 1983

Your Memories?

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