|1987 in the United Kingdom|
|1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989|
|Individual countries of the United Kingdom|
|England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales|
|Sport, television and music|
At the beginning of this year, the Archbishop of Canterbury's envoy Terry Waite was kidnapped in Lebanon and remained a hostage until 1991. The major political event of this year was the re-election of Margaret Thatcher in June, making her the longest continuously-serving Prime Minister since Lord Liverpool in the early 19th century. The year was also marked by a number of disasters: the sinking of the ferry MS Herald of Free Enterprise, the Hungerford massacre, the "Great Storm", the Glanrhyd Bridge collapse, the Remembrance Day Bombing and the King's Cross fire.
- Monarch – Elizabeth II
- Prime Minister – Margaret Thatcher (Conservative)
- January – Most of Britain is affected by heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures.
- 1 January – Personal equity plans permitting tax-free investments in shares are introduced.
- 2 January – Golliwogs are banned from Enid Blyton books by their publisher and replaced by gnomes following complaints that golliwogs were offensive to Black people.
- 4 January – Economists predict that unemployment will fall below the 3,000,000 mark by the end of this year.
- 5 January – Harold Macmillan, Lord Stockton, former Prime Minister, is buried in the village of Horsted Keynes, having died on 29 December at the age of 92.
- 7 January – Telford, the new town created in Shropshire some 20 years ago, is reported to have the highest unemployment rate in the West Midlands region, even eclipsing the unemployment levels seen in the city of Birmingham and nearby towns including Wolverhampton, Brierley Hill, Wednesbury and Bilston, which have lost a large percentage of traditional heavy industry since the late-1970s, although Brierley Hill's unemployment crisis is beginning to ease with the ongoing development of the Merry Hill Shopping Centre, which already includes two retail parks and a large shopping mall and is set to expand even further by the end of the decade.
- 13 January – Prince Edward leaves the Royal Marines just three months after joining.
- 14 January – Heavy snow falls across Britain leaving houses, towns, roads, railways and motor vehicles stranded and blocked.
- 15 January – Unemployment is reported to have fallen in December 1986 for the fifth month in succession.
- 20 January
- 30 January – The flotation of British Airways begins.
- 11 February
- 12 February – Edwina Currie sparks controversy by stating that "good Christians won't get AIDS".
- 24 February – It is alleged that six Nazi war criminals are living in the UK.
- 26 February
- 3 March – NHS prescription charges are increased from £2.20 to £2.40.
- 6 March
- 13 March – 25-year-old Matthew Taylor wins Truro for the Liberals at the by-election caused by the death of David Penhaligon three months ago.
- 19 March – Winston Silcott, a 28-year-old Black man, is sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of PC Keith Blakelock in the Tottenham riots 17 months ago.
- 23 March – 31 people are injured when a suspected IRA bomb explodes at a British army barracks in Rheindahlen, West Germany.
- 27 March – Neil Kinnock meets U.S President Ronald Reagan in Washington DC.
- 29 March – Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher visits Moscow.
- 30 March – Christie's auction house in London sells one of Vincent van Gogh's iconic Sunflowers paintings for £24,750,000.
- 1 April – MPs vote against the restoration of the death penalty by 342–230.
- 3 April – The jewellery of the late Duchess of Windsor is sold at auction for £31,000,000 six times the expected value.
- 5 April – Arsenal win the Football League Cup for the first time in their history with a 2–1 win over Liverpool, earning them their first major trophy since 1979. Charlie Nicholas scores both of Arsenal's goals.
- 16 April – Conservative MP Harvey Proctor appears in court charged with gross indecency.
- 22 April – Former Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan is appointed to the Order of the Garter. He will be retiring from Parliament at this year's general election.
- 29 April – Chancellor Nigel Lawson promises that the UK will soon have an income tax rate of 25p in the pound.
- 30 April – The House of Lords approve the sterilisation of a "mentally subnormal" 17-year-old female.
- 4 May – Everton win the Football League First Division title for the ninth time in their history.
- 8 May – Loughgall ambush: Soldiers of the SAS kill eight members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army at Loughgall, County Antrim.
- 10 May – The church of St Mary-at-Hill in the City of London is damaged in a fire.
- 11 May
- Margaret Thatcher calls a general election for Thursday, 11 June; with most of the opinion polls pointing towards her securing a third successive election victory for the Conservatives, with the Labour opposition expected to increase its share of votes and seat tally at its first general election under the leadership of Neil Kinnock.
- British Rail renames Second class as Standard class.
- 14 May – Unemployment has fallen to 3,107,128.
- 15 May – Family Law Reform Act removes remaining legal distinctions between children born to married and unmarried parents.
- 16 May – Coventry City F.C. win the FA Cup for the first time in their history with a 3–2 win in the final over Tottenham Hotspur, who had won all of their previous seven FA Cup finals.
- 25 May – Aldershot F.C. become the first team to win promotion through the new Football League playoffs, winning promotion from the Fourth Division with a 3–0 aggregate win over their illustrious opponents Wolverhampton Wanderers (who have a total of eight major trophies to their name, the most recent just seven years ago). The Hampshire club have already condemned another illustrious side, Bolton Wanderers (four times FA Cup winners) to relegation to the Fourth Division for the first time in their history.
- 3 June – The last MORI poll before the general election shows the Conservatives 11 points ahead of Labour with 43% of the vote, while the Liberal/SDP Alliance's support stands at 24% and their hopes of building on their result at the last general election look exceedingly slim.
- 7 June – Chessington Zoo is renamed Chessington World of Adventures and is even made into a theme park by Madame Tussaud's.
- 11 June – The 1987 general election sees Margaret Thatcher secure her third term in office. However, her parliamentary majority is reduced to 102 compared to the 144-seat majority gained at the election four years earlier. High-profile casualties of the election include: the former SDP leader Roy Jenkins (once a Labour Home Secretary) and the Ulster Unionist Party's 75-year-old Enoch Powell (a former Conservative MP). Four ethnic minority candidates are successful: Diane Abbott, Paul Boateng, Bernie Grant and Keith Vaz. Among the MPs retiring from parliament is 75-year-old James Callaghan, the former Prime Minister.
- 18 June – Unemployment has fallen below the 3,000,000 mark for the first time since 1981, after the biggest monthly fall in unemployment since records began in 1948; seeing more than 100,000 of the unemployed find work in May.
- 19 June – Howard Kendall, managers of Football League champions Everton, resigns to take over of Athletic Club Bilbao in Spain. His successor at Everton is the club's assistant manager Colin Harvey.
- 22 June – Race riots break out in the Chapeltown area of Leeds.
- 25 June – A MORI poll shows support for the Conservative Party stands at almost 50% – the highest during Margaret Thatcher's time as leader.
- 27 June – 25 years after the first James Bond film was released, the fifteenth Bond film premieres in London – with the spy now being played by Timothy Dalton.
- 30 June – Peter Beardsley, the 26-year-old England striker, becomes the most expensive player transferred between British clubs when he completes a £1,900,000 move from Newcastle United to Liverpool.
- 12 July – £60,000,000 is stolen during the Knightsbridge Security Deposit robbery.
- 16 July
- 22 July – Palestinian cartoonist Naji al-Ali is shot in London; his condition is described as "critical".
- 24 July – Novelist and former Conservative MP Jeffrey Archer wins a libel case against Daily Star over allegations that he was involved in a vice ring.
- 27 July – Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up is released, the first of eight singles to reach the Top 10 in the UK.
- 29 July – The Channel Tunnel is given the go-ahead after Margaret Thatcher and François Mitterrand ratify the Treaty of Canterbury. It is expected to be open within six years.
- 30 July – The Queen opens the Docklands Light Railway in London, the first driverless railway in Great Britain. Passenger service would begin a month later.
- 31 July
- 4 August – Just months after confessing to a further two murders, the Moors Murderer Ian Brady claims that he committed a further five murders.
- 6 August – Dr. David Owen resigns as Leader of the Social Democratic Party after its members vote to merge with the Liberal Party.
- 10 August – One person a day in Britain is now reported to be dying of AIDS.
- 13 August
- 19 August
- 21 August – The Hungerford massacre death toll rises to 16 with the deaths of two more victims in hospital from their injuries.
- 27 August – Robert Maclennan replaces David Owen as Leader of the Social Democratic Party.
- 29 August – Naji al-Ali dies in hospital more than five weeks after being shot. 
- 30 August – David Owen forms a breakaway faction of the SDP.
- 7 September – Ford completes its takeover of the luxury sports car company, Aston Martin.
- 9 September – 25 Liverpool football fans are extradited to Belgium to face charges of manslaughter in connection with the Heysel Stadium disaster more than two years ago.
- 11 September – The Government unveils plans to abolish the Inner London Education Authority.
- 22 September – The Government bans automatic weapons of the type used by Hungerford killer Michael Ryan.
- 23 September – An Australian court lifts the ban on the publication of Spycatcher.
- October – Construction work begins on the extension to the M40 motorway between Oxford and Birmingham. It is hoped that the motorway, providing an alternative route to the M6 and M1 from the Midlands to London as well as improving road links with the Midlands and the South Coast ports, will be fully operational by 1990.
- 1 October – Swedish home product retailer IKEA opens its first British store at Warrington in Cheshire.
- 9 October – Margaret Thatcher tells the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool that she wants to continue as Prime Minister until 1994 and the age of 69, which would make her Britain's oldest Prime Minister since Harold Macmillan in 1963. She is already three months away from becoming Britain's longest-serving Prime Minister this century, exceeding the previous record set by H. H. Asquith of the Liberal Party more than 70 years ago.
- 11 October – £1,000,000 Operation Deepscan in Loch Ness fails to locate the legendary Loch Ness Monster.
- 15–16 October – Great storm: hurricane force winds batter much of south-east England, killing 23 people and causing extensive damage to property.
- 18 October – Two days after the end of the storm in south-east England, some 250,000 homes in the region are still without electricity.
- 19 October
- 23 October – Retired English jockey Lester Piggott is jailed for three years after being convicted of tax evasion.
- 25 October – Peugeot begins production of its second car – the 405 four-door saloon – at the Ryton plant near Coventry. The first customers are set to take delivery of their cars after Christmas. A French-built estate version will be launched next year.
- November – The first acid house raves are reported in the United Kingdom, many of them being in derelict buildings.
- 1 November – British Rail establishes a world speed record for diesel traction, 148.4 mph (238.9 km/h) with a test InterCity 125 formation between Darlington and York.
- 2 November – Peter Brooke succeeds Norman Tebbit as Chairman of the Conservative Party.
- 3 November – It is announced that unemployment in Britain fell quicker during October than in any other European country.
- 5 November – London City Airport opens.
- 8 November – Enniskillen bombing: Eleven people are killed by a Provisional Irish Republican Army bomb at a Remembrance Day service at Enniskillen.
- 11 November – Customs officers in Southampton seize more than £50,000,000 worth of cocaine – the most expensive haul of the drug ever found in the UK.
- 12 November – Unemployment has fallen to 2,700,000 (just under 10% of the workforce), the lowest level of unemployment recorded in Britain for over six years.
- 17 November – The Government announces that the Poll tax (community charge) will be introduced in April 1990.
- 18 November – A fire at Kings Cross on the London Underground kills 31 people.
- 19 November – Conservative support has reached 50% in a MORI poll for the first time.
- 24 November – The Government announces that free eye tests are to be abolished.
- December – The British-built Peugeot 405 wins the European Car of the Year award, and is the first Peugeot to be given the title for nearly 20 years. British sales begin in the new year, several months after it was launched in France.
- 9 December – The England cricket team's tour of Pakistan is nearly brought to a premature end when captain Mike Gatting and umpire Shakoor Rana row during a Test Match.
- 15 December – Channel Tunnel construction is initiated, and it is expected to open in 1993 or early-1994.
- 17 December – A year that has seen an excellent performance for the British economy ends with unemployment reported to have fallen below the 2,700,000 mark; having started the year in excess of 3,000,000.
- 25 December – ITV enjoys a record breaking audience when more than 26,000,000 viewers tune in for the Christmas Day episode of Coronation Street, in which Hilda Ogden (Jean Alexander) makes her final appearance on the show after 23 years.
- 29 December – PWL release the Kylie Minogue single I Should Be So Lucky. Australian Minogue, 19, has already hugely popular with British audiences for her role in the TV soap Neighbours, which debuted on the BBC fourteen months ago.
- 31 December – 31 British and Belgian people are recognised in the New Year Honours for heroism shown in the rescue operation at the Zebrugge tragedy earlier in the year.
- Inflation remains low for the sixth year running, standing at 4.2% for 1987.
- Largest ever deficit to date on UK balance of payments.
- With overall unemployment falling below 3,000,000, youth unemployment is now below the 1,000,000 mark.
- Overall economy growth for the year reaches 5.5% – the highest since 1963.
- London Daily News, short-lived newspaper (24 February – 23 July)
- Iain M. Banks' novel Consider Phlebas.
- Iain Banks' novel Espedair Street.
- William Golding's novel Close Quarters, second of the To the Ends of the Earth trilogy.
- Paul Kennedy's historical study The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers.
- Penelope Lively's novel Moon Tiger.
- Ian McEwan's novel The Child in Time.
- Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels Equal Rites and Mort.
- 9 January – Paolo Nutini, singer
- 23 January – Michael Christie, Scottish field hockey defender
- 30 January – Phil Lester, Youtuber, radio presenter
- 31 January – Marcus Mumford, musician (Mumford & Sons)
- 7 February – Joe Cardle, English footballer
- 22 February – Shaun Batt, footballer
- 27 March – Zaraah Abrahams, actress
- 2 April – Marc Pugh, footballer
- 11 April – Joss Stone, musician
- 1 May – Matt Di Angelo, actor
- 15 May – Andrew Murray, Scottish tennis player
- 28 May – Liam Shotton, footballer
- 4 June – Mollie King, singer
- 5 June – Charlie Clements, actor
- 6 July – Kate Nash, singer
- 7 July – Carly Telford, English footballer
- 10 July – Amy Oliver, archer
- 11 August – Adam Thomas, philanthropist
- 14 August – Steven R. Cosgrove, actor
- 14 August – Nikki Kidd, Scottish field hockey forward
- 15 August – Sean McAllister, English footballer
- 24 August – Ollie Hancock, racing driver
- 3 September – Chris Fountain, actor
- 4 September – Mike O'Shea, cricketer
- 11 September – Elizabeth Henstridge, actress
- 22 September – Tom Felton, actor
- 27 September – Luke Campbell, boxer
- 28 November – Chloe Madeley, journalist and model
- 30 November – Dougie Poynter, bassist (McFly)
- 21 December – Rachel Shenton, actress
- 25 December – Jorgie Porter, actress
- 22 January – Ann Parker Bowles, socialite (born 1918)
- 2 February
- 4 February – Wynford Vaughan-Thomas, writer and broadcaster (born 1908)
- 28 February
- 7 March – Evelyn Dove, singer (born 1902)
- 28 March – Patrick Troughton, actor (born 1920)
- 2 April – Trevor Hockey, footballer (born 1943)
- 4 April – Richard Aaron, philosopher (born 1901)
- 8 April – Terry Allen, boxer (born 1924)
- 26 April – John Silkin, politician (born 1923)
- 22 May – Keidrych Rhys, poet and editor (born 1915)
- 6 June – Fulton Mackay, actor (born 1922)
- 22 June – John Hewitt, poet (born 1907)
- 29 August – Naji al-Ali, Palestinian cartoonist, assassinated in London (born 1938)
- 4 September – Bill Bowes, cricketer (born 1908)
- 11 September – Hugh David, television director (born 1925)
- 17 September – Harry Locke, actor (born 1913)
- 25 September – Emlyn Williams, dramatist and actor (born 1905)
- 19 October – Jacqueline du Pré, cellist (born 1945)
- 22 December – Henry Cotton, golfer (born 1907)
- 26 December – Melford Stevenson, judge (born 1902)
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