1980 in the United Kingdom

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1980 in the United Kingdom
Other years
1978 | 1979 | 1980 (1980) | 1981 | 1982
Constituent countries of the United Kingdom
England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales
Popular culture

Events from the year 1980 in the United Kingdom.




  • 2 January – Workers at British Steel Corporation go on a nationwide strike over pay called by the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation, which has some 90,000 members among British Steel's 150,000 workforce, in a bid to get a 20% rise. It is the first steelworks strike since 1926.[1]
  • 19 January – The first UK Indie Chart is published in Record Business.
  • 20 January – 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).
  • 21 January – MS Athina B is beached at Brighton.
  • 28 January – Granada Television airs a controversial edition of World in Action on ITV, in which it alleges that Manchester United F.C. chairman Louis Edwards has made unauthorised payments to the parents of some of the club's younger players and has made shady deals to win local council meat contracts for his retail outlet chain.[2]





  • 1 May – British Aerospace privatised.[7]
  • 3 May – Liverpool win the Football League First Division title for 12th time.[8]
  • 5 May – The SAS storm the Iranian Embassy building, killing 5 out of the 6 terrorists. One hostage is killed by the terrorists before the raid and one during it, but the remainder are freed. The events are broadcast live on television.[9]
  • 10 May – West Ham United, of the Second Division, win the FA Cup for the third time in its history with a surprise 1–0 victory over First Division Arsenal in the final at Wembley Stadium. Trevor Brooking scores the only goal of the game to make West Ham United the third team from the Second Division to have won the trophy in the last eight years. As of 2021, West Ham are the last team from outside the top division to have won the FA Cup.[2]
  • 16 May – Inflation has risen to 21.8%.
  • 27 May – Inquest into the death of New Zealand born teacher Blair Peach (who was killed during a demonstration against the National Front last year) returns a verdict of misadventure, resulting in a public outcry.[10]
  • 28 May – Nottingham Forest retain the European Cup with a 1–0 win over Hamburger SV, the West German league champions, in Madrid. The winning goal is scored by Scotland international John Robertson. The European Cup has now been won by an English club for the fourth successive year, as Liverpool won it for two consecutive years before Forest's first victory last year.


  • June
    • British Leyland launches its Morris Ital range of family saloons and estates which are a reworking of the nine-year-old Marina that was one of Britain's most popular cars during the 1970s. Production is expected to finish by 1984 when an all-new front-wheel drive model is added to the range and sales begin on 1 August, the same day that the new W-registered cars go on sale.
    • The UK economy slides into recession.
  • 6 June – Two Malaysian men are jailed for 14 years after being found guilty of running a drug smuggling ring in London which generated millions of pounds.
  • 12 June – Gail Kinchen (a pregnant 16-year-old) and her unborn baby are accidentally shot dead by a police marksman who enters the Birmingham flat where her boyfriend David Pagett is holding her hostage at gunpoint.[3] [4]
  • 16 June – Murder of Patsy Morris, a 14-year-old schoolgirl from Isleworth found dead on Hounslow Heath. Her murder remains unsolved although in 2008 it was revealed that she was the childhood girlfriend of serial killer Levi Bellfield, responsible for the Murder of Milly Dowler.[11]
  • 17 June – Secretary of State for Defence Francis Pym reveals to the House of Commons that US nuclear cruise missiles are to be located at RAF Greenham Common in Berkshire and the disused RAF Molesworth base in Cambridgeshire.[12]
  • 19 June – Gunmen attack the British embassy in Iraq; three unknown attackers are shot dead by Iraqi security forces.[13]
  • 23 June – Insider trading in shares becomes illegal under United Kingdom company law.
  • 24 June – Unemployment is announced to have reached a postwar high of 1,600,000.
  • 26 June – The Glasgow Central by-election is held, with Labour retaining its hold on the seat despite a swing of 14% to the Scottish National Party.
  • 30 June – The pre-decimal sixpence coin is withdrawn from circulation.[4]


  • 1 July – MG's Abingdon car factory looks set to close completely this Autumn as Aston Martin fails to raise the funds to buy it from British Leyland.
  • 8 July – Miners threatening to strike demand a 37% pay increase, ignoring pleas from Margaret Thatcher to hold down wage claims.
  • 10 July – Alexandra Palace in London gutted by fire.[14]
  • 19 July–3 August: Great Britain and Northern Ireland compete at the Olympics in Moscow and win 5 gold, 7 silver and 9 bronze medals.
  • 22 July – Unemployment has hit a 44-year high of nearly 1.9 million.
  • 29 July – Margaret Thatcher announces the introduction of Enterprise Zones as an employment relief effort in some of regions of Britain which have been hardest hit by deindustrialisation and unemployment.[5]


  • 11 August
  • 16 August – 37 people die as a result of the Denmark Place fire, arson at adjacent London nightclubs.[15]
  • 28 August – Unemployment now stands at 2 million for the first time since 1935. Economists warn that it could rise to up to 2.5million by the end of next year.[16]


  • 1 September – Ford launches one of the most important new cars of the year, the third generation Escort which is a technological innovation in the small family car market, spelling the end of the traditional rear-wheel drive saloon in favour of the front-wheel drive hatchback and estate that follows a trend in this sector of car which is being repeated all over Western Europe. It would go on to be Britain's best-selling car of the decade starting from 1982.
  • 9 September – Bibby Line's Liverpool-registered ore-bulk-oil carrier MV Derbyshire sinks with the loss of all 44 crew south off Japan in Typhoon Orchid following structural failure. At 91,655 gross tons, she is the largest UK-registered ship ever lost.
  • 11 September – Chicago mobster Joseph Scalise with Arthur Rachel commit the Marlborough diamond robbery in London. The following day, they are arrested in Chicago after getting off a British Airways flight in the city; however, the 45-carat stone is never found.[17]
  • 12 September – Consett Steelworks in Consett, County Durham closes with the loss of 4500 jobs, instantly making it the town with the highest rate of unemployment in the UK.
  • 13 September – Hercules, a bear which had gone missing on a Scottish island filming a Kleenex advertisement, is found.[18]
  • 21 September – First CND rally at RAF Greenham Common.[7]
  • 24 September – 34-year-old Singapore born doctor Upadhya Bandara is attacked and injured in Headingley, Leeds; the Yorkshire Ripper is believed to have been responsible.[19]


  • 3 October – The 1980 Housing Act comes into effect, giving council house tenants of three years' standing in England and Wales the right to buy their home from their local council at a discount.[20]
  • 6 October – Deregulation of express coach services.
  • 8 October – British Leyland launches the Austin Metro, a small three-door hatchback which makes use of much of the Mini's drivetrain and suspension, including its 998 cc and 1275 cc engines. The Mini will continue to be produced alongside the Metro at Longbridge in Birmingham which was recently expanded to accommodate Metro production.
  • 10 October – Margaret Thatcher makes her "The lady's not for turning" speech to the Conservative Party conference after party MP's warn that her economic policy was responsible for the current recession and rising unemployment.[21]
  • 15 October
    • James Callaghan, ousted as Prime Minister by the Conservative victory 17 months ago, resigns as Labour Party leader after four and a half years.
    • Former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, 86, criticises Margaret Thatcher's economic policies, claiming that she has "got the wrong answer" to the economic crises which she inherited from Labour last year. Her economic policies are also criticised by union leaders, who blame her policies for rising unemployment and bankruptcies, and warn that this could result in civil unrest.[22]
  • 17 October – Elizabeth II makes history by becoming the first British monarch to make a state visit to the Vatican.[23]
  • 22 October – Lord Thomson announces that The Times and Sunday Times will be closed down within five months unless a buyer is found.
  • 24 October – MG car production ends after 56 years with the closure of the plant in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, where more than 1.1 million MG cars have been built since it opened in 1924.[24]
  • 28 October – Margaret Thatcher declares that the government will not give in to seven jailed IRA terrorists who are on hunger strike in the Maze Prison in hope of winning prisoner of war status.


  • 5 November – Theresa Sykes, a 16-year-old Huddersfield mother of a young baby, is wounded in a hammer attack near her home in the town. The Yorkshire Ripper is believed to be responsible.[25]
  • 10 November – Michael Foot is elected Leader of the Labour Party.[26]
  • 13 November – George Smith, a security guard, is shot dead when the van he is guarding is intercepted by armed robbers in Willenhall, West Midlands.[6] [7]
  • 17 November – University student Jacqueline Hill, aged 20, is murdered in Headingley, Leeds. On 19 November, police investigating the case establish that she is probably the 13th woman to be killed by the Yorkshire Ripper.[27]
  • 23 November – Despite the economy now being in recession and the government's monetarist economic policy to tackle inflation being blamed for the downturn, the government announces further public spending cuts and taxation rises.






See also[edit]


  1. ^ "1980: Steel workers strike over pay". BBC News. 2 January 1980. Archived from the original on 5 January 2008. Retrieved 14 January 2008.
  2. ^ "Soccer probe police look at TV film". Evening Times. Glasgow. 30 January 1980. p. 11. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  3. ^ "The Montreal Gazette - Google News Archive Search".
  4. ^ a b c d e Penguin Pocket On This Day. Penguin Reference Library. 2006. ISBN 0-14-102715-0.
  5. ^ "1980: Britain will go to Moscow Olympics". BBC News. 25 March 1980. Retrieved 14 January 2008.
  6. ^ Gillard, Derek (2018). "Education in England: a history". HDA. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  7. ^ a b Palmer, Alan; Veronica (1992). The Chronology of British History. London: Century,.,. Ltd. pp. 443–444. ISBN 0-7126-5616-2.
  8. ^ "The Montreal Gazette - Google News Archive Search".
  9. ^ "1980: SAS rescue ends Iran embassy siege". BBC News. 5 May 1980. Archived from the original on 14 December 2007. Retrieved 14 January 2008.
  10. ^ "1980: Peach death was 'misadventure'". BBC News. 27 May 1980. Retrieved 14 January 2008.
  11. ^ Edwards, Richard (28 February 2008). "Bouncer 'Confessed to Murder of Schoolgirl'". The Telegraph.
  12. ^ "1980: Government announces missile sites". BBC News. 17 June 1980. Retrieved 14 January 2008.
  13. ^ "1980: Gunbattle at British embassy in Iraq". BBC News. 19 June 1980. Retrieved 14 January 2008.
  14. ^ Weinreb, Ben; Hibbert, Christopher (1995). The London Encyclopaedia. Macmillan. p. 288. ISBN 0-333-57688-8.
  15. ^ "Soho Club 1980". London Fire Journal. 22 January 2010. Retrieved 26 March 2011.
  16. ^ "Two million – before it gets rough". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
  17. ^ "1980: Famous gem grabbed in armed raid". BBC News. 11 September 1980. Retrieved 14 January 2008.
  18. ^ "1980: Missing Scottish bear is found". BBC News. 13 September 1980. Retrieved 14 January 2008.
  19. ^ "The Attacks and Murders - Upadhya Bandara".
  20. ^ The History Today Companion to British History. London: Collins & Brown. 1995. p. 393. ISBN 1-85585-178-4.
  21. ^ "1980: Thatcher 'not for turning'". BBC News. 10 October 1980. Retrieved 14 January 2008.
  22. ^ "The Weekend Sun - Google News Archive Search".
  23. ^ "1980: Pope welcomes Queen to the Vatican". BBC News. 17 October 1980. Retrieved 14 January 2008.
  24. ^ https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=zkAdAAAAIBAJ&sjid=S6cEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5054,6160038&dq=british-leyland&hl=en[dead link]
  25. ^ "The Attacks and Murders - Theresa Sykes".
  26. ^ "1980: Michael Foot is new Labour leader". BBC News. 10 November 1980. Retrieved 14 January 2008.
  27. ^ "The Attacks and Murders - Jacqueline Hill".
  28. ^ "1980: John Lennon shot dead". BBC News. 8 December 1980. Archived from the original on 9 December 2007. Retrieved 14 January 2008.
  29. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1980". Retrieved 14 January 2008.
  30. ^ "Voting Intention in Great Britain: 1976-present". Ipsos MORI. 21 June 2010. Archived from the original on 23 September 2012. Retrieved 22 June 2019.
  31. ^ "UFO files: Rendlesham Forest incident remains Britain's most tantalising sighting". The Daily Telegraph. 21 June 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  32. ^ "1980: Green light for breakfast television". BBC News. 28 December 1980. Archived from the original on 30 December 2007. Retrieved 14 January 2008.
  33. ^ [1] Archived 19 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  34. ^ Marr, Andrew (2007). A History of Modern Britain. London: Macmillan. p. 434. ISBN 978-1-4050-0538-8.
  35. ^ Catania, Andrew (3 February 2017). "Richie Faulkner: From Dirty Deeds to Judas Priest". Archived from the original on 8 August 2018. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
  36. ^ Tracie Ratiner (December 2009). Contemporary Musicians: Profiles of the People in Music. Gale. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-7876-9616-0.
  37. ^ Inc, BandPage. "Gareth Emery - BandPage". BandPage. Archived from the original on 1 June 2016. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
  38. ^ "Darius Campbell Danesh: Pop Idol and West End star dies aged 41". BBC News. 17 August 2022. Retrieved 17 August 2022.
  39. ^ "Darius". The Vogue. Retrieved 17 August 2022.
  40. ^ Constance Wootten Malloy (1988). Becoming a Heroine Quietly: The Life and Work of Barbara Pym. U. of Calif., Davis. p. 521.
  41. ^ Elizabeth Lomas; Archive of Art and Design (Great Britain) (2001). Guide to the Archive of Art and Design, Victoria & Albert Museum. Taylor & Francis. p. 23. ISBN 978-1-57958-315-6.
  42. ^ Pepys-Whiteley, D. "Courtneidge, Dame (Esmerelda) Cicely (1893–1980)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edition, January 2011, accessed 8 August 2011 (subscription required)
  43. ^ Widdicombe, Gillian, "Harmony and Discord", The Observer, 13 December 1981, p. 31
  44. ^ Flint, Peter B. (30 April 1980). "Alfred Hitchcock Dies; A Master of Suspense". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 25 July 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  45. ^ David Shusterman (1991). C.P. Snow. Twayne Publishers. p. 176. ISBN 978-0-8057-6993-7.
  46. ^ 'Gregory Bateson: Old Men Ought to be Explorers', Stephen Nachmanovitch, CoEvolution Quarterly, Fall 1982
  47. ^ "Gardiner, Character Actor, Dies". Indiana Gazette. Pennsylvania, Indiana. 8 July 1980. p. 12. Retrieved 5 March 2016 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  48. ^ Bell, R. P. (2004). "Bowen, Edmund John (1898–1980), chemist". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 1 (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/30838. Retrieved 10 June 2014. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  49. ^ "Obituary: E. J. Bowen". The Times. 22 November 1980.