October 12: The IRA struck at the heart of British government.
A bomb planted days before the Tory conference exploded in the
Grand Hotel, Brighton where many party leaders and their spouses
were staying. The outrage came towards the end of what had been
a bad year for the terrorist, with the loss of a major arms shipment
discovered in a trawler.
Four died in the Brighton blast. Mrs Thatcher and other ministers
had narrow escapes. The enduring image was of a pyjama-clad Norman
Tebbit wincing in pain as fire fighters lifted him to safety on
a stretcher. His wife was terribly injured and confined to a wheelchair.
Although it was a huge propaganda victory for the IRA, the Grand
Hotel bombing won much public sympathy and support for Mrs Thatcher.
Britain had never been bombed into submission, she said, and she
had no intention of starting now. More chilling was the verdict
on Brighton by the IRA: "We only have to be lucky once."
March 15. British miners went on strike in a stoppage
which was to last into the following year and change the face
of Britain. Warned by their leaders that the Tory government planned
to close hundreds of pits, the miners walked out and picketed
coal plants. But they were frustrated by one of the biggest police
operations ever co-ordinated.
Hundreds of officers fought pitched battles with the miners
and intercepted coachloads of flying pickets. It was a direct
attack on the leadership of Margaret Thatcher, and the "Iron Lady"
stood firm. When it was all over the strike had divided fathers
from sons and left deep divides in mining communities which never
healed. Although the miners marched back to work behind their
pit bands, heads held high, their worst fears came true. In the
decade that followed, the British coal industry was decimated.
February 14. Christopher Dean and Jayne Torvill produced
a new ice dance for the Winter Olympics at Sarajevo that was destined
to pass into legend. Their stunningly erotic interpretation of
Ravel's Bolero was a perfect combination of skill, strength and
emotion. The judges awarded the Midland couple 12 sixes for the
free-dance section and a perfect nine sixes for artistic interpretation.
15. A new prince was born. At the time it still seemed that
the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales had been made
in heaven. The news of a second son, Prince Henry Charles Albert
David, was especially popular with traditionalists for whom the
first job of any royal couple was to produce "one heir and one
spare." The new prince was to be known as Harry.
April 17. As television cameras rolled to cover a demonstration
outside the London Embassy in London, the unthinkable happened.
A burst of machine-gun fire cut down a young police officer, WPc
Yvonne Fletcher. As passers-by and demonstrators rushed for cover,
colleagues tried to save the wounded officer, but to no avail.
The death of WPc Fletcher not only ended diplomatic relations
between Britain and Libya but caused many to question the concept
of diplomatic immunity. The law forbade the police from storming
the embassy in pursuit of the killer. No-one was ever brought
February 9. Soviet leader Yuri Andropov
died and was succeeded by Konstantin Chernenko, already
April 2. Wolverhampton traders appealed
for police help after gangs of 30 youths rampaged through
the town centre, looting shops.
April 15. Comedian Tommy Cooper
died during a live TV programme.
April 19. A "hush-hush" investigation
into several West Midlands detectives recommended no criminal
June 6. More than 1,000 Sikhs died
in fighting at the Golden Temple of Amritsar when troops
were ordered in to end an occupation by Sikh extremists.
August 1. Wolverhampton leisure
chiefs dismissed as "misleading" a report claiming that
Dudley offered cheaper entertainment.
August 5. Richard Burton, one of
the most popular actors of the age, died.
August 27. Families fled from a
blaze in the service-station bridge over the M6 at Keele.
August 29. Colin Angus quit as
manager of Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, claiming he was
the victim of "a hounding campaign."
September 15. Prince Henry Charles
Albert David, to be known as Prince Harry, was born.
October 31. The Indian prime minister
Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards.
November 6. Ronald Reagan was re-elected
as US President.
November 20. In the biggest share
issue the world had ever seen, British Telecom shares went
December 4. A cloud of poison gas
from a pesticide plant swept over the India city of Bhopal.
At least 2,000 perished.