1981 was the year in which Peter Sutcliffe a 35-year-old lorry driver from Bradford, was charged with and convicted of being the “Yorkshire Ripper”. On 18 February, in a rare gesture of concilliation, the Thatcher government withdrew plans to close down 23 mines after negotiations with National Union of Mineworkers. Ten days late, but never mind, on 24 February HRH The Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer announced their engagement. They married in July.
The first London Marathon was held and Bucks Fizz won the Eurovision Song Contest for the UK with the song, Making Your Mind Up. Bobby Sands, an IRA member on hunger strike in the Maze prison, Northern Ireland was elected MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone in a by election – he later died in prison.
We saw the Brixton riots – a later report would point the finger of blame at the social and economic problems which had been plaguing Brixton and many other inner-city areas across England. All this in two short years, I’ll bet St. Francis was really spinning – well it gave the Specials a number one hit. Steve Davis became the World Snooker Champion beating Doug Mountjoy and Ken Livingstone became leader of the GLC after Labour won the GLC elections. And we saw the first performance of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats took place at the New London Theatre.
Shergar won the Derby and the Queen was shot at by a youth, Marcus Sarjeant, who fired six blank cartridges as she entered Horse Guards Parade. A fire at Goodge Street tube station killed one and injured 16.
In the Toxteth (Liverpool) Riots we saw the first use of CS gas by British police. The Humber Bridge was opened by the Queen and British Telecom was separated from the Royal Mail. The IRA bombed the Chelsea Barracks killing two. UK production of the Vauxhall Astra commenced at Ellesmere Port.
And finally, on 8 December the National Union of Mineworkers elected Arthur Scargill as its leader…