1984 was not quite how George Orwell imagined it – almost, but not quite. In the real 1984, the government banned GCHQ staff from belonging to any trade union. Japanese carmaker Nissan signed an agreement to build a car factory in Britain – the first time that “foreign” cars would be built in Britain – in Sunderland, Tyne & Wear.
In the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Great Britain and Northern Ireland repeated the feat of 1980 by winning one gold medal – Torvill and Dean for ice skating. In March we saw the beginning of the miners’ strike which was to pit (how could you avoid a pun like that?!) the National Union of Mineworkers against Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government.
WPC Yvonne Fletcher was murdered outside the Libyan Embassy in London. The Liverpool International Garden Festival opened, as did the Thames Barrier.
We saw the first flight of Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic and York Minster was struck by a bolt of lightning. The cost of the resultant fire damage ran into millions of pounds. At the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Great Britain and Northern Ireland won 5 gold, 11 silver and 21 bronze medals.
1984 also saw the debut of the Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends television series, and the United Kingdom and People’s Republic of China sign the agreement to return Hong Kong to China in 1997.
The Brighton bombing – an attempt by the IRA to assassinate the British Cabinet in their hotel beds during the Tory party conference. A total of five people were killed.
In Ethiopia, BBC News newsreader Michael Buerk gave a powerful commentary of the famine in that country. Bob Geldof and Midge Ure were among those who were moved to try and do something about it. They started by persuading thirty-six of Britain and Ireland’s top pop musicians to gather together to form Band Aid and record the song Do They Know It’s Christmas? in order to raise money for Ethipoian famine relief.
And finally… after 150 years in circulation, the English one pound note was withdrawn.