Modern Britain Timeline 1945-2000

Credit cards, Euros, moneyHere is a timeline for modern Britain, from 1945, the end of the Second World War and Atlee’s Labour Government, through Thatcher’s years, to the year 2000.

1945 Labour Party wins a landslide at the General Election.
End of the Second World War.
1946 Government starts a programme of nationalising key businesses.
Winston Churchill makes his ‘Fulton Speech’ declaring that an Iron Curtain has descended across Europe.
1947 The coal industry is nationalised.  Exceptionally harsh winter.  India becomes independent and the separate state of Pakistan is created.
1948 Railways are nationalised. The SS Empire Windrush docks at Tilbury, seen as the start of mass immigration from Britain’s former imperial possessions. Declaration of a Jewish state in Israel and British withdrawal from Palestine (precipitates Arab-Israeli War). The National Health Service is launched. The Berlin Airlift takes supplies to the city, blockaded by the Soviet Union. Olympic Games held in London.
1949 The Yangtze River Incident – Royal Navy sloop HMS Amethyst comes under attack from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. George Orwell (Eric Blair) publishes Nineteen Eighty-Four. Formation of NATO – The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
1950-53 Korean War.
1950 C S Lewis publishes The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  Steel is nationalised.
1951 Soviet spies, Burgess and Maclean, flee Britain.
1952 George VI dies; his daughter becomes Queen Elizabeth II.  London ‘smog’ kills 4,000 people.
1953 Ian Fleming publishes Casino Royale, the first James Bond book.  James Watson and Frances Crick determine the double-helix structure of DNA.  New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Tenzing Norgay are the first to reach the summit of Everest.
1954 Roger Bannister runs a mile in under 4 minutes.  Rationing, in place since the Second World War, comes to an end.
1955 Commercial television begins.  Mary Quant opens her first shop, Bazaar, on Chelsea’s Kings Road.
1956 The Clean Air Act aims to reduce pollution.  Calder Hall, Britain’s first nuclear power station, opens.  Dodie Smith publishes 101 Dalmatians.  Suez Crisis – Britain and France invade Egypt after the Suez Canal is nationalised, but are forced to withdraw under American pressure.  Elvis Presley has his first hit in the UK, Heartbreak Hotel.  Lonnie Donegan has his first hit, Rock Island Line.
1957 The Gold Coast becomes the first African state to become independent of Britain; it is renamed Ghana. Malayan Independence follows a successful war (called ’emergency’ for insurance purposes) against communist-led insurgents.
1958 Britain’s first motorway opens – the Preston by-pass, now a section of the M6.  Michael Bond publishes A Bear Called Paddington.  Foundation of CND – the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
1959 The first Mini motor car rolls off the production line.
1960 Cyprus gains independence – following a conflict since 1955 against EOKA who wanted union with Greece and the Turkish Resistance Organisation, which opposed it. The end of National Service (conscription); the last conscripts left the services in 1963. Penguin Books is found not guilty under the Obscene Publications Act for publishing D H Lawrence’s novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The TV soap, Coronation Street, is broadcast for the first time.
1961 The Pill – the oral contraceptive pill – becomes available in Britain.  Meanwhile, the GDR (German Democratic Republic of East Germany) constructs the Berlin Wall.
1962 The Beatles release their first single, Love Me Do, which gets to No 17 in the charts.  Dr No, the first James Bond film, is released.
1963 The Profumo Affair – a scandal erupts after it emerges that a government minister, John Profumo, has shared the affections of a girl, Christine Keeler, with a Soviet diplomat.  Kim Philby, MI6 agent – the so-called ‘Third Man’ – defects to the Soviet Union.  The ‘fourth man’, Anthony Blunt, is identified but the fact is kept secret until 1979.
1964 The Rolling Stones have their first No 1, It’s All Over Now.
1965 Abolition of the death penalty.
1966 Time magazine publishes an article about Swinging London. Twiggy is named “The Face of 1966”. Britain’s first credit card, Barclaycard, is launched. England win the Football World Cup (and won’t let anyone else forget it). Aberfan disaster – the Welsh village of Aberfan was engulfed in tons of coal slag, killing 48 adults and 116 children, many in their classrooms.
1967 Donald Campbell perishes attempting the World Water Speed Record on Coniston Water, driving Bluebird K7. The Government nationalises the British Steel Industry. The Beatles release Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Homosexual acts in private between consenting men over the age of 21 are decriminalised in England and Wales. Abortion becomes legal in the UK (except for Northern Ireland). The BBC launches Radio 1 to win listeners from the popular pirate radio stations (which the Government has declared illegal anyway) and Radio Luxembourg. The People’s Republic of South Yemen is declared following the withdrawal of British troops and a conflict which had lasted since 1963.
1968 Thousands demonstrate in London against US involvement in Vietnam. The first Isle of Wight Festival.
1969 Drilling for North Sea Oil begins.  Concorde makes its maiden flight.  Troops are sent to Northern Ireland to restore order.  The first broadcast of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
1970 The first Glastonbury Festival.
1971 The first soldier is killed by the IRA.  Decimal currency is introduced, replacing pounds, shillings and pence.
1972 Idi Amin expels Ugandan Asians; many obtain refuge in Britain. ‘Bloody Sunday’ – troops kill 26 unarmed civilians during a protest march in Londonderry.
1973 Britain joins the Common Market (later changed to the European Community when no one was looking).  Pink Floyd release Dark Side of the Moon.
1976 Financial crisis forces the Labour Government to seek help from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
1977 More than 20 million tune in to watch Morecambe and Wise’s Christmas Show.
1978-79 The ‘Winter of Discontent’ – strikes by petrol tanker and truck drivers, hospital staff, refuse collectors, health workers.  Rats swarm round uncollected rubbish and in Liverpool the dead go unburied.
1978 The worlds first ‘in vitro’ baby is born in Oldham.
1979 Conservatives win the General Election and Margaret Thatcher becomes Britain’s first female Prime Minister.  The IRA murder Lord Louis Mountbatten.
1980 The Housing Act of 1980 gives council house tenants the right to buy the houses they rent.
1981 Arrival of the first IBM personal computer.  Racial and other social tensions lead to riots in many of Britain’s towns, especially Brixton (south London), Toxteth (Liverpool) and Moss Side (Manchester).  Greenham Common – women begin a protest against the deployment of US cruise missiles in Britain; the protest lasted 19 years.
1982 The Falklands War, following Argentinean invasion of the Falkland Islands.
1984 Mass miners’ strike sees more violence in Britain.  The IRA tries to murder the Cabinet by planting a bomb in the Grand Hotel, Brighton.  Unemployment exceeds 3 million.
1985 First mobile phone in Britain.  On New Year’s Day 1985, Sir Ernest Harrison, chairman of Racal Vodafone, was called by his son Michael, who said: “Hi, it’s Mike. Happy New Year. This is the first-ever call on a UK mobile network.”  Live Aid Concerts – massive global fund-raising music concerts organised by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure in aid of Ethiopian famine relief.
1986 The City of London’s ‘Big Bang’ – the deregulation of the securities market leads to a revolution in the financial services sector, significantly increasing London’s status as a global financial centre.  The Government starts privatising nationalised companies, a policy designed to help create a property-owning democracy, produce capital to help reduce government expenditure and bring an end to subsidies.
1987 Barclays introduce Britain’s first debit card.
1989 Tim Berners-Lee invents the world wide web.  Meanwhile – the fall of the Berlin Wall.
1990 Margaret Thatcher resigns as Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party.
1991 Operation Desert Storm – the liberation of Kuwait following invasion by Iraq.
1992 British troops sent to Yugoslavia as part of the UN Protection Force.
1994 The Channel Tunnel opens.  The Church of England ordains women priests.
1996 Dolly the Sheep, the world’s first cloned mammal, is born in Edinburgh.
1997 Tony Blair leads Labour to victory in the General Election after 18 years of Conservative government.  Britain hands Hong Kong back to China.  Diana, Princess of Wales, is killed in a car crash in Paris.  Scotland and Wales vote in favour of national assemblies. JK Rowling publishes Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
1998 The Good Friday agreement provides a basis for peace in Northern Ireland.
1999 Kosovo Crisis – RAF contributes to NATO bombing campaign and sends troops as part of a peace-keeping force.