A sterling, silver monarch

June 7: A week of festivities began for the Silver Jubilee, the 25th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth taking the throne. The celebrations began with a giant bonfire in Windsor Park, soon joined by beacon bonfires on high ground all over Britain, some on the same sites which had been used in 1588 to warn of the Spanish Armada.

The Queen on walkaboutThe official formalities ended with a carriage procession through London for a service at St Paul's Cathedral and a banquet at the Guildhall.

But the real success of the Silver Jubilee was at grass-roots level. A nation which had thought itself very modern suddenly rediscovered its old love affair with the British monarchy. It was as though the clock had been turned back to the great jubilee of Victoria's day.

Street parties were the order of the day. Entire neighbourhoods were draped in red, white and blue bunting. Pubs changed their name to mark the occasion, photographs of the Queen and Prince Philip hung in windows everywhere and millions of goodwill messages arrived from all over the world. It was a wonderful week to be in Britain.

March 15: British Leyland warned their 3,000 striking toolmakers that if they did not return to work they would be sacked. BL unions backed the company's ultimatum. Some 40,000 Leyland workers had been laid off by the dispute at the state-owned Birmingham plant. Losses were put at more than 10 million a week. A statement from the unions said they were "not prepared to stand aside and see thousands of workers suffer a loss of jobs." Strike leader Roy Fraser said: "If it is doomsday for Leyland by sacking the toolmakers, then it is doomsday for all skilled men in this country."

July 1: Virginia Wade gave the Queen yet another Jubilee Year present when she won the Wimbledon women's singles title at her 16th attempt. After losing the first set, the 31-year-old vicar's daughter roared back to snatch the match from Holland's Betty Stove. At the end of the match an ecstatic14,000 Centre Court crowd sang For She's A Jolly Good Fellow and Ginny wept with joy. She said afterwards: "It was like a fairytale. It meant everything to me to win Wimbledon. I was upset as being discarded as the old, nervy Virginia Wade."

September 26: The first bargain-basket flights to New York took off from Gatwick with passengers paying 59 for a one-way trip aboard Freddie Laker's Skytrain. The chirpy entrepreneur walked down the aisle of the DC-10, decorated inside with Union Jacks, and thanked the 272 passengers on board for having faith in his cheap-flights-for-all policy. He charged the six major airlines flying the Transatlantic route with trying to jeopardise the service - then announced he had made 2,176 profit from the first flight.

Elvis PresleyAugust 16: Elvis Presley, the king of rock and roll, was found dead at his Memphis home after a suspected drug overdose. He was 42. The news sparked scenes of fanatical hero-worship as more than 30,000 mourners endured the heat and crush to file past his open coffin at Gracelands. Nearly twice as many more were turned away.

Elvis took the world by storm in 1956 with records like Heartbreak Hotel and Hound Dog - and a hip-swivelling stage act so hot some TV companies refused to film him below the waist. His style softened as he grew older but the hits - 106 records reached the Top 40 - never stopped.


In brief

January 6: Record company EMI sacked the Sex Pistols after they ran riot on ITV's Today show. Presenter Bill Grundy called them "a foul-mouthed set of yobs".

January 17: Double murderer Gary Gilmore was shot dead by firing squad becoming the first convict to be executed in the United States since the Supreme Court called a halt to executions in 1967. He had fought a unique legal battle for the right to die.

February 17: Staffordshire County Council chairman George Newman was jailed for 15 months for corruption.

February 18: A frightening dossier of bullying, gang violence, vandalism, extortion and truancy in schools was published by Staffordshire County Council.

March 27: Two Jumbo jets collided on the ground in Tenerife killing 574 people in the world's worst aviation tragedy.

April 2: Red Rum galloped to his third Grand National victory.

May 13: Kerry Packer split the world of cricket by signing up 35 of the world's best cricketers for a series of internationals in Australia.

July 19: Wolverhampton Jobcentre advertised a voyage of discovery to the South Pole to work on a British Antarctic Survey: 3,000 applications were received for 200 vacancies.

July 27: Jubilant Black Country crowds gave the Queen and Prince Phillip a rapturous welcome during a whistle-stop tour.

September 2: A Midland businessman revealed Dudley Zoo may be bought by the council who had secretly met Scotta Investments, owners of the 40-acre castle and zoo.

October 14: Crooner Bing Crosby collapsed and died of a heart attack on a golf course in Spain after winning a match by one hole.

November 14: Firemen went on strike for a 30 per cent pay increase.

November 15: The Queen became a grandmother when Princess Anne gave birth to a 7lb 9oz boy, Peter Phillips.