Work in Progress Click on each title in the long list below to expand the key events listed for that year. Click on the year to jump down the list: 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997

1980: Council house right to buy scheme started
  • 2 January – 2 April 1980: Workers at British Steel were on a nationwide strike over pay.
  • 30 April – 5 May 1980 Iranian Embassy Siege in London, 26 hostages, 6 terrorists.
  • 1 May 1980: Seats on Manchester City Council Lab (78) Cons (23) Lib (4)
  • 1 May 1980: British Aerospace was privatised.
  • 16 May 1980: Inflation reached 21.8%.
  • 24 June 1980: Unemployment was announced to have reached a postwar high of 1,600,000.
  • 30 June 1980: The pre-decimal sixpence coin was withdrawn from circulation.
  • 22 July 1980: Unemployment hit a 44-year high of nearly 1.9million.
  • 21 September 1980: First CND rally at RAF Greenham Common.
  • 3 October 1980: The 1980 Housing Act came 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.
  • 10 November 1980: Michael Foot became leader of the Labour Party
  • 8 December 1980: John Lennon was shot dead in New York.

1981: Riots starting in London, spread across the country
  • 5 January 1981: Peter Sutcliffe was first charged with being the “Yorkshire Ripper” and found guilty on 19 May 1981
  • 11 April 1981: Racial tensions sparked riots in Brixton and other areas
  • No City Council elections in Manchester.
  • 7 May 1981: Ken Livingstone became leader of the GLC after Labour won the GLC elections.
  • 30 May 1981: More than 100,000 people from across Britain marched to Trafalgar Square in London for the TUC’s March For Jobs.
  • The Social Democratic Party was founded when 4 MPs left the Labour Party (Shirley Williams, William Rodgers, Roy Jenkins, and David Owen) and formed a pact with the Liberal Party – SDP-Liberal Alliance.
  • 8-10 July 1981: Rioting in Moss Side in Manchester
  • July 1981: Rioting across the country.
  • 27 July 1981: The British Telecommunications Act separated British Telecom from the Royal Mail with effect from 1 October.
  • 29 July 1981: Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer at St Paul’s Cathedral
  • September 1981: Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp was set up.
  • 24 October 1981: The CND anti-nuclear march in London attracted over 250,000 people.
  • 8 December 1981: Arthur Scargill became leader of the National Union of Mineworkers.

1982: Falklands War
  • The concept of the Greater Manchester Light Rail was first proposed (later to become Metrolink)
  • 26 January 1982: Economic recession led to high unemployment
  • 2 April 1982: Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands. Within days Thatcher sent a huge military task force to the southern Atlantic.
  • 6 May 1982: Seats on Manchester City Council Lab (69) Cons (26) Lib (4)
  • 21 May 1982: The Haçienda club in Manchester opened.
  • 14 June 1982: British forces recaptured Port Stanley. Argentina surrendered in what was seen as a resounding victory for Margaret Thatcher, confirming her “Iron Lady” nickname.
  • 2 November 1982: launch of Channel 4

1983: Thatcher won 2nd term as Prime Minister
  • 1 January 1983: The British Nationality Act 1981 came into effect creating five classes of British nationality.
  • 3 February 1983: Unemployment was 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.
  • 5 May 1983: Seats on the Manchester City Council Lab (72) Cons (22) Lib (5)
  • 9 June 1983: Margaret Thatcher won her second general election with a majority of 144 seats. Michael Foot was Leader of the Labour Party
  • Neil Kinnock became Leader of the Labour Party. Roy Jenkins resigned as leader of the SDP and was succeeded by David Owen.
  • 13 November 1983: The first United States cruise missiles arrived at RAF Greenham Common in Berkshire amid protests from peace campaigners at the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp.

1984: Miners’ strike, British Telecom privatised.
  • 6 March 1984: National miners’ strike began under NUM leader Arthur Scargill, in response to the closure of uncompetitive mines.
  • 3 May 1984: Seats on the Manchester City Council Lab (79) Cons (14) Lib (6). Labour Left were in majority in Labour Group for first time. Graham Stringer was elected leader of Manchester City Council.
  • Richard Leese was elected on to Manchester City Council for Crumpsall Ward.
  • 12 October 1984: IRA bomb exploded during the Conservative Party conference at the Grand Hotel in Brighton. Five people were killed, Thatcher was uninjured.

1985: Liverpool District Labour Party expelled from Labour Party for militancy
  • 1 January 1985: The first British mobile phone call was made
  • Early 1985: Bob Scott set up the Manchester Olympic Bid Committee that was unsuccessful in getting the British city nomination.
  • 25 February 1985: Nearly 4,000 striking miners went back to work, leaving just over half of the miners on strike.
  • 3 March 1985: The miners’ strike ended after one year.
  • March 1985: Manchester University Student protest at Leon Brittan (Home Secretary) visit was forcefully put down by Police.
  • May 1985: No City Council elections in Manchester
  • 13 July 1985: Live Aid concerts in London and Philadelphia raised over £50m for famine relief in Ethiopia
  • 22 August 1985: Manchester Air disaster – 55 people were killed when a Boeing 737 burst into flames at Manchester Airport
  • September 1985: Racial rioting in Birmingham and Brixton
  • 1 October 1985: Neil Kinnock made a speech at the Labour Party Conference attacking the entryist militant group in Liverpool.
  • 27 November 1985: Neil Kinnock suspended the Liverpool District Labour Party amid allegations that the Trotskyist militant group was attempting to control it.
  • 8 December 1985: British Gas shares were floated on the Stock Exchange

1986: Deregulation of buses, British Gas Corporation privatised
  • 21 March 1986: Manchester’s G-MEX Centre opened.
  • 31 March 1986: Greater Manchester Council (GMC) and the Greater London Council and the metropolitan county councils of West Midlands, Merseyside, Tyne and Wear, West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire were abolished as a result of the Local Government Act 1985
  • 8 May 1986: Seats on Manchester City Council Lab (86) Cons (7) Lib (6)
  • 7 October 1986: Launch of the Independent Newspaper
  • 21 November 1986: The government launched a £20m campaign to warn of the dangers of AIDS
  • 1986: The World Freight Terminal opened at Manchester Airport

1987: Thatcher won 3rd Conservative general election
  • 6 March 1987: Herald of Free Enterprise sank in North Sea; 189 died
  • 7 May 1987: Seats on Manchester City Council: Lab (77) Cons (13) Alliance (9) – Lab: 49 Left and 28 Right (see chapter 11).
  • 11 June 1987: Conservatives won 3rd term in general election
  • 11 June 1987: Diane Abbot, Labour, became the first black woman MP.
  • August 1987: Two Manchester Ward by-elections resulted in seats on Manchester City Council: Lab (75) Cons (14) Alliance (10) – Lab: 47 Left and 28 Right (see chapter 11).
  • 19 August 1987: Hungerford Massacre, Berkshire (documentary 1hr)
  • 19 October 1987: Black Monday – Stock market dropped 22%, largest stock-market drop in Wall Street history
  • The Chinese Arch was erected in Manchester’s China Town and Chinese Arts Centre opened the same year.

1988: Lockerbie plane bomb/crash
  • Flight Pan Am 103 exploded in mid-air over Scotland and plunged onto the town of Lockerbie. All 259 people on board as well as a further 11 on the ground were killed.
  • The Social Democratic Party merged with the Liberal Party to form the Social and Liberal Democratic Party, later known as the Liberal Democrats

1989: Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web
  • Central Electricity Generating Board privatised
  • Water and Sewerage privatised
  • 5 February 1989: Sky Television began broadcasting as the first satellite TV service in Britain
  • 14 February 1989: Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran placed a fatwa on author Salman Rushdie following the publication of his controversial book The Satanic Verses.
  • 15 April 1989: 94 fans were killed in the Hilsborough Disaster in Sheffield
  • May 1989: No City Council elections in Manchester
  • 19 June 1989: Labour won 45 of Britain’s 78 European Parliament constituencies in the European elections, with the Conservatives gaining 32 seats.
  • 8 November 1989: Berlin Wall: Germans were allowed to travel between West and East Berlin for the first time since the wall was built in 1961
  • 21 November 1989: The House of Commons was televised live for the first time.
  • 3 December 1989: Margaret Thatcher, along with American president George Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, declared the end of the Cold War after 40 years.
  • 18 December 1989: The Labour Party abandoned its policy on closed shops.

1990: Poll Tax protest riots, Major replaced Thatcher as leader of Conservatives
  • Richard Leese became Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council
  • 11 February 1990: Nelson Mandela was released from prison in South Africa after 27 years.
  • 1 April 1990: Community charge (‘poll tax’) was introduced in England (it was trialled in Scotland in 1989).
  • 1–25 April 1990 Strangeways Prison riot in Manchester.
  • 4 May 1990: Seats on Manchester City Council Lab (78) Cons (12) Lib Dems (9)
  • 16 May 1990: British agriculture Minister John Gummer fed a hamburger to his 5-year-old daughter to counter rumours about the spread of BSE (’Mad Cows Disease’) and its transmission to humans.
  • 3 June 1990: The Social Democratic Party was wound up after nine years in existence.
  • 24 August 1990: Irish hostage Brian Keenan was released in Beirut, Lebanon, after being held a hostage there for more than four years.
  • 25 August 1990: The BBC began broadcasting on Radio 5
  • 18 September 1990: The city to host the 1996 Olympic Games was announced as being Atlanta city, Manchester’s bid was unsuccessful (see chapter 26).
  • November 1990: Thatcher lost support of her Party. John Major took over as Leader of Party and Prime Minister. (Also see Telegraph)

1991: Gulf War
  • 17 January – 28 February 1991: Combat stage of The Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm, as the Royal Air Force joined Allied aircraft in bombing raids on Iraq.
  • 23 April 1991: Government confirmed that the Poll Tax would be replaced by a new Council Tax in 1993.
  • 2 May 1991: Seats on Manchester City Council Lab (85) Lib Dems (9) Cons (5)
  • 14 June 1991: Julie Ann Gibson became the first woman to qualify as a pilot with the Royal Air Force.
  • 8 August 1991: John McCarthy, a British hostage held in Lebanon for over 5 years, was freed.
  • 18 November 1991: Terry Waite, a British hostage held in Lebanon, was freed after four-and-a-half years in captivity.
  • 1991: James Anderton retired and David Wilmot was appointed Chief Constable for Greater Manchester Police
  • 1991: The Foundation for Sport and the Arts was set up to channel money originally donated by Littlewoods and other football pools companies to a wide range of sporting and artistic causes. (Mentioned in chapter 26 as giving funding for the Velodrome)

1992: Conservatives won election, John Major was re-elected as Prime Minister
  • 9 April 1992: Conservatives won their 4th general election, returning John Major as Prime Minister
  • Margaret Thatcher and Michael Foot both retired from parliament.
  • 27 April 1992: Betty Boothroyd was elected as Speaker of the House of Commons, the first woman to hold the position.
  • 7 May 1992: Seats on Manchester City Council Lab (80) Lib Dems (12) Cons (5) Independent Labour (2)
  • 3-14 June 1992: Earth Summit: United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro and launch of Agenda 21 initiative
  • 17 July 1992: The Queen officially opened the Manchester Metrolink tram system.
  • 18 July 1992: Labour Party replaced Neil Kinnock with John Smith as its leader.
  • 16 September 1992: ‘Black Wednesday’ forced withdrawal of sterling from the ERM
  • 20 November 1992: Windsor Castle Fire
  • War in Bosnia[1]

1993: John Major ‘Back to Basics’ campaign, council tax replaced poll tax
  • 1 January 1993: new Teletext service was launched on ITV and Channel 4, replacing the 14-year-old ORACLE teletext service
  • 12 February 1993: James Bulger was murdered.
  • February 1993: Tommy Ducks pub in Manchester demolished illegally overnight by developers (see chapter 24) (some accounts say 13th others 21st)
  • 22 March 1993: Construction of The Bridgewater Hall started
  • April 1993: Start of new Council Tax replacing the Poll Tax introduced by the by the Local Government Finance Act 1992
  • 22 April 1993: Black London teenager Stephen Lawrence was stabbed to death at Eltham in south London while waiting for a bus.
  • May 1993: No City Council elections in Manchester
  • July 1993: The public sector trade union UNISON is formed by merger of the National and Local Government Officers Association (NALGO), the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) and the Confederation of Health Service Employees (COHSE).
  • September 1993: Government Conference ‘Partnerships for Change’ conference hosted by Manchester (see chapter 25).
  • 3 September 1993: The UK Independence Party was launched.
  • 23 September 1993: The selection of Sydney as the host for the Olympic Games in 2000 was announced. Manchester’s bid was unsuccessful (see chapter 26).
  • 8 October 1993: John Major announced ‘Back to Basics’ campaign at the Conservative Party conference.
  • War in Bosnia[1]

1994: John Smith died (12 May). Tony Blair became Labour leader
  • 2 February 1994: Manchester selected (over London) as British city to bid to host 2002 Commonwealth Games (see chapter 26) – there were subsequently no other bids by the deadline December 1994, so Manchester hosted the games.
  • 12 March 1994: First women priests were ordained by the Church of England
  • 5 May 1994: Local council elections, nationally the Conservatives lost 429 seats and control of 18 councils.
  • 5 May 1994: Seats on Manchester City Council Lab (79) Lib Dems (15) Cons (4) Independent Labour (1)
  • 6 May 1994: The Channel Tunnel officially opened
  • May 1994: The People’s History Museum opened in Manchester
  • 13 June 1994: The Conservatives suffered poor European parliament election results only winning 18 out of 87 of the nation’s seats. Labour Party won 62 seats.
  • 24 June – 3 July 1994: Global Forum ’94 (GF94) was hosted by Manchester (see chapter 25).
  • 21 July 1994: Tony Blair won the Labour Party leadership election defeating John Prescott and Margaret Beckett.
  • 31 August 1994: IRA declared a ceasefire
  • 19 November 1994: The first UK National Lottery draw took place.
  • War in Bosnia[1]

1995: Conservative government weakened
  • 4 May 1995: Conservative lost seats in local council elections dropping to control of 8 councils, while Labour controlled 155 councils and the Liberal Democrats controlled 45. The Conservatives then had control of no councils in Wales or Scotland.
  • 4 May 1995: Seats on Manchester City Council Lab (83) Lib Dems (14) Cons (2)
  • 14 June 1995: First woman chief constable in Britain was appointed, Pauline Clare to Lancashire Constabulary.
  • June/July 1995: In an attempt to re-assert his authority, John Major resigned as leader of the Conservative Party (but not as Prime Minister) triggering a leadership election, which he then won 218 votes to John Redwood’s 89 votes.
  • 21 July 1995: The Unitary Development Plan for the City of Manchester (the UDP) was adopted by the Council. The statutory document which set out guidelines for all development in Manchester and provided a framework from which to base decisions about planning applications.
  • 27 July 1995: The Conservative government’s majority was slashed further, to 9 seats, as the Lib Dems won the Littleborough and Saddleworth by-election.
  • 7 October 1995: Conservative MP Alan Howarth defected to Labour, cutting the government’s majority to 7 seats.
  • November 1995: Manchester was confirmed as host for the 2002 Commonwealth Games at the CGF Assembly in Bermuda.
  • 2 December 1995: ‘Rogue trader’ Nick Leeson was jailed for six-and-a-half years in Singapore on a double fraud charge relating to the recent financial collapse of Barings Bank.
  • 14 December 1995: Dayton Peace Accord signed ending the War in Bosnia[1]
  • 29 December 1995: The Conservative majority stood at 5 seats following the defection of MP Emma Nicholson to the Liberal Democrats.

1996: Richard Leese became Leader of Manchester City Council
  • 13 January 1996: NUM leader Arthur Scargill announced that he was defecting from the Labour Party to set up his own Socialist Labour Party
  • 5 February1996: The first GM food products went on sale in the UK.
  • 13 March 1996: Dunblane School Massacre
  • 22 March 1996: The European Union prohibited exports of British beef as a result of the BSE crisis.
  • 31 March 1996: Central Manchester Development Corporation formally dissolved (see chapter 24)
  • 2 May 1996: Seats on Manchester City Council Lab (84) Lib Dems (15) Cons (0)
  • 15 June 1996: IRA Bomb in Manchester (see chapter 27)
  • 11 September 1996: First concert held at the Bridgewater Hall
  • 12 October 1996: The Conservative government’s majority dwindled to a single seat with the defection of Peter Thurnham to the Liberal Democrats.
  • 3 November 1996: Barry Porter, Conservative MP for Wirral South, died
  • 4 December 1996: Official opening of the Bridgewater Hall by The Queen, and the Duke of Edinburgh
  • 7 December 1996: Sir John Gorst, Conservative MP for Hendon North in London, announced his resignation, leaving the Conservatives without a majority in the House of Commons.

Other Timelines of Interest


[1] War in Bosnia (1992-1995): British troops were deployed in Bosnia-Herzegovina from early 1995 through to 2008.  I feel it should be mentioned on the timeline as a significant event, but in this format it is not easy to represent the complexity of that conflict.

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