1987 in the United Kingdom

1987 in the United Kingdom
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Events from the year 1987 in the United Kingdom.

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.




  • 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.[1]
  • 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.




  • 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.[2]
  • 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.[8]
  • 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.[9]
  • 10 May – The church of St Mary-at-Hill in the City of London is damaged in a fire.[10]
  • 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.[11]
  • 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.[12]
  • 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.





  • 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.[29]
  • 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.[30]


  • 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.[31]
  • 1 October – Swedish home product retailer IKEA opens its first British store at Warrington in Cheshire.[32]
  • 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.[33]
  • 15–16 October – Great storm: hurricane force winds batter much of south-east England, killing 23 people and causing extensive damage to property.[34]
  • 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
    • Black Monday: Wall Street crash leads to £50,000,000,000 being wiped of the value of shares on the London stock exchange.[35]
    • Glanrhyd Bridge collapse: train falls off bridge into River Towy in Wales that had collapsed due to flooding, killing four people.
  • 23 October – Retired English jockey Lester Piggott is jailed for three years after being convicted of tax evasion.[36]
  • 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.[37]
  • 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.[9]
  • 8 November – Enniskillen bombing: Eleven people are killed by a Provisional Irish Republican Army bomb at a Remembrance Day service at Enniskillen.[38]
  • 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.[39]
  • 19 November – Conservative support has reached 50% in a MORI poll for the first time.[10]
  • 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.[2]
  • 15 December – Channel Tunnel construction is initiated, and it is expected to open in 1993 or early-1994.[40]
  • 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.[41]


  • Inflation remains low for the sixth year running, standing at 4.2% for 1987.[42]
  • 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.[43]
  • Overall economy growth for the year reaches 5.5% – the highest since 1963.[11]




See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b c d Penguin Pocket On This Day. Penguin Reference Library. 2006. ISBN 0-14-102715-0.
  3. ^ "The History Of The British Airways Museum – 1987". Archived from the original on 26 June 2007. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  4. ^ "Mrs Payne is no brothel Madam". BBC. 11 February 1987. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  5. ^ "Synod says 'yes' to women priests". BBC. 26 February 1987. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  6. ^ "Hundreds trapped as car ferry capsizes". BBC. 6 March 1987. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  7. ^ "1987: 30 hurt as car bomb hits Army base". news.bbc.co.uk. BBC News. 23 March 1987.
  8. ^ "MP on gay sex charges". BBC. 16 April 1987. Archived from the original on 18 July 2007. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  9. ^ a b Palmer, Alan; Veronica (1992). The Chronology of British History. London: Century Ltd. pp. 453–454. ISBN 0-7126-5616-2.
  10. ^ Stamp, Gavin (9 September 2016). "The unhappy fate of Christopher Wren's City churches". Apollo Magazine. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
  11. ^ "Marriage: legitimacy and adoption". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  12. ^ "FA Cup Final 1987". Archived from the original on 1 June 2009. Retrieved 30 May 2009.
  13. ^ "BBC News – Poll tracker: Interactive guide to the opinion polls". news.bbc.co.uk.
  14. ^ "Thatcher wins record third term". BBC. 11 June 1987. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  15. ^ "Flying Squad foils £80m robbery". BBC. 18 May 2004. Retrieved 4 August 2007.
  16. ^ "Cartoonist shot in London street". BBC. 22 July 1987. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  17. ^ "Archer wins record damages". BBC. 24 July 1987. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  18. ^ "Rick Astley – Overview". allmusic. Retrieved 14 May 2010.
  19. ^ "Biography". Mike Stock Music. Archived from the original on 3 October 2011. Retrieved 26 March 2011.
  20. ^ "Biography". Rickastley.com. Archived from the original on 13 April 2010. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  21. ^ "Docklands Light Railway (D.L.R.)". Exploring 20th Century London. Retrieved 3 September 2009.
  22. ^ "Newspaper caught in Spycatcher row". BBC. 31 July 1987. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  23. ^ Williams, Hywel (2005). Cassell's Chronology of World History. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. pp. 614–616. ISBN 0-304-35730-8.
  24. ^ Harwood, Elain (2003). England: a Guide to Post-War Listed Buildings (rev. ed.). London: Batsford. ISBN 0-7134-8818-2.
  25. ^ "Gunman kills 14 in Hungerford rampage". BBC. 19 August 1987. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  26. ^ "Information about the Order of the Garter, the most senior British order of chivalry". The Official website of the British Monarchy. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  27. ^ [2]
  28. ^ "Maclennan replaces Owen in SDP". BBC. 27 August 1987. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  29. ^ "Liverpool fans to stand trial in Belgium". BBC. 9 September 1987. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  30. ^ "Ban lifted on MI5 man's memoirs". BBC. 23 September 1987. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  31. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 June 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  32. ^ [3]
  33. ^ "Search ends for Loch Ness monster". BBC. 11 October 1987. Archived from the original on 10 July 2007. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  34. ^ "Hurricane winds batter southern England". BBC. 16 October 1987. Archived from the original on 24 May 2007. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  35. ^ "Shares plunge after Wall Street crash". BBC. 19 October 1987. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  36. ^ "Lester Piggott jailed for three years". BBC. 23 October 1987. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  37. ^ Balkwill, Richard; Marshall, John (1993). The Guinness Book of Railway Facts and Feats (6th ed.). Enfield: Guinness Publishing. ISBN 0-85112-707-X.
  38. ^ "Bomb kills 11 at Enniskillen". BBC. 8 November 1987. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  39. ^ "King's Cross station fire 'kills 27'". BBC. 18 November 1987. Archived from the original on 27 June 2007. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  40. ^ "Our history". Eurotunnel. Archived from the original on 15 July 2007. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  41. ^ "Zebrugge heroes honoured". BBC On This Day. BBC. 31 December 1987. Retrieved 25 October 2010.
  42. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 February 2006. Retrieved 2016-01-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  43. ^ Bowater, Donna (16 November 2011). "Youth unemployment reaches 1986 levels". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  44. ^ "Amy OLIVER - Olympic Archery | Great Britain". International Olympic Committee. 25 June 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2019.

External links[edit]