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Events from the year 1988 in the United Kingdom.




  • 3 January - Margaret Thatcher becomes the longest serving British prime minister this century, having been in power for eight years and 244 days.
  • 4 January - Sir Robin Butler replaces Sir Robert Armstrong as Cabinet Secretary, on the same day that Margaret Thatcher makes her first state visit to Africa when she arrives in Kenya.
  • 5 January - Actor Rowan Atkinson launches the new Comic Relief charity appeal.
  • 7 January - Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock calls for a further £1.3billion to made available for the National Health Service.
  • 9 January - One of the worst incidents of football hooliganism this season sees 41 suspected hooligans arrested at the FA Cup third round tie between Arsenal and Millwall at Highbury.
  • 11 January - The government announces that inflammable foam furniture will be banned from March next year.
  • 14 January - Unemployment figures are released for the end of 1987, showing the 18th successive monthly fall. Just over 2,600,000 people are now jobless in the United Kingdom - the lowest total for seven years.
  • 23 January - David Steel announces that he will not stand for the leadership of the new Social and Liberal Democratic Party.
  • 24 January - Arthur Scargill is re-elected as leader of the National Union of Mineworkers by a narrow majority.
  • 28 January - The Birmingham Six lose an appeal against their convictions.
  • 3 February - Nurses throughout the UK strike for higher pay and more cash for the National Health Service.[1]
  • 4 February - Nearly 7,000 ferry workers go on strike in Britain, paralysing the nation's seaports.
  • 5 February - The first BBC Red Nose Day raises £15 million for charity.[2]
  • 13 February–28 February - Great Britain and Northern Ireland compete at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada, but do not win any medals.
  • 15 February - Norman Fowler, Secretary of State for Employment, announces plans for a new training scheme which the government hopes will give jobs to up to 600,000 people who are currently unemployed.
  • 16 February - Thousands of nurses and co-workers form picket lines outside British hospitals as they go on strike in protest against what they see as inadequate NHS funding.
  • 26 February - Multiple rapist and murderer John Duffy is sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommendation that he should never be released.
  • 1 March - British Aerospace launches a takeover bid for the government owned Rover Group - the largest British owned carmaker.
  • 3 March - The SDP merges with the Liberal Party to create the Social and Liberal Democratic Party. Its interim leaders are David Steel and Robert Maclennan.[3]
  • 6 March - The SAS shoot dead 3 unarmed Provisional Irish Republican Army members in Gibraltar.[4]
  • 7 March - Margaret Thatcher announces a £3billion regeneration scheme to improve a series of inner city areas by the year 2000.
  • 10 March - The Prince of Wales narrowly avoids death in an avalanche while on a ski-ing holiday in Switzerland. Major Hugh Lindsay, former equerry to the Queen, is killed.[5]
  • 15 March - Chancellor Nigel Lawson announces that the standard rate of income tax will be cut to 25p in the pound, while the maximum rate of income tax will be cut to 40p from 60p in the pound.
  • 16 March - Milltown Cemetery attack: An Ulster Freedom Fighters member, Michael Stone attacks and kills six mourners at the funeral of the three IRA members who died in Gibraltar.[6]
  • 17 March - The fall in unemployment continues with just over 2,500,000 people now registered as unemployed in the United Kingdom. However, there is a blow for the city of Dundee, when Ford Motor Company scraps plans to build a new electronics plant in the city - a move which ends hopes of 1,000 new jobs being created for this city which has high unemployment.
  • 19 March - Two British Army Corporals are killed by a mob after accidentally driving into a funeral cortege for the victims of the March 16 Milltown Cemetery attack.[7]
  • 29 March - Plans are unveiled for Europe's tallest skyscraper to be built at Canary Wharf. The office complex will cost around £3billion to build and is set to open in 1992.
  • 10 April - Sandy Lyle becomes the first British winner of the US Masters.
  • 21 April - The government announces that nurses will receive a 15% pay rise - at a cost of £794million which will be funded by the treasury.
  • 2 May - Three off duty British servicemen are killed in The Netherlands by the IRA.
  • 6 May - Graeme Hick makes English cricket history by scoring 405 runs in a county championship match.[8]
  • 14 May - Wimbledon F.C., who have been Football League members for just 11 seasons and First Division members for two, win the FA Cup with a 1-0 win over league champions Liverpool at Wembley. Lawrie Sanchez scored the winning goal in the first half, while Liverpool's John Aldridge missed a penalty in the second half. In Scotland, Celtic beat Dundee United 2-1 in the Scottish Cup final with two late goals from Frank McAvennie to complete the Scottish double.
  • 19 May - Unemployment is now below 2,500,000 for the first time since late 1981.
  • 24 May
  • 2 June - President Ronald Reagan of the United States of America makes a visit to Britain.
  • 11 June - Some 80,000 people attend a concert at Wembley Stadium in honour of Nelson Mandela, the South African anti-apartheid campaigner who turns 70 today and has been in prison since 1964.
  • 15 June - Five British soldiers are killed by the IRA in Lisburn.
  • 16 June - More than 100 English football fans are arrested in West Germany in connection with incidents of football hooliganism during the European Championships.
  • 18 June - England's participation in the European Football Champions ends when they finished bottom of their group having lost all three games.
  • 23 June - Three gay rights activists invade the BBC studios during a six o'clock bulletin of the BBC News.
  • 5 July - The Church of England announces that it will allow women priests in its churches from 1992.
  • 6 July
  • 18 July - Paul Gascoigne, 21-year-old midfielder, becomes the first £2million footballer signed by a British club when he leaves Newcastle United and joins Tottenham Hotspur. [1]
  • 28 July - Paddy Ashdown is elected as leader of the Social and Liberal Democratic Party.[10]
  • 1 August - A British Army soldier is killed by IRA terrorists at Inglis Barracks in North London.
  • 2 August - Everton pay £2.3million for West Ham United striker Tony Cottee, 22, breaking the national record set six weeks ago by Paul Gascoigne's transfer. [2]
  • 12 August - The first child is born to the Duke and Duchess of York at Portland Hospital in London. The baby girl is fifth in the line to throne, and her parents have yet to name her.
  • 18 August - Ian Rush becomes the most expensive player to join a British club when he returns to Liverpool for £2.7million after a year at Juventus in Italy. [3]
  • 20 August - Six British soldiers are killed by an IRA bomb near Belfast. 27 other people are injured.
  • 22 August -
    • - New licensing laws allow pubs to stay open all day in England and Wales.[2]
    • - The Duke and Duchess of York's 10-day-old daughter is named Beatrice Elizabeth Mary.
  • 29 August - 14-year-old Matthew Sadler becomes Britain's youngest international chess master.[2]
  • 31 August - Postal workers walk out on strike over a dispute concerning bonuses paid to recruit new workers in London and the South East.[11]
  • 3 September - Economic experts warn that the recent economic upswing for most of the developed world is almost over, and that these countries - including Britain - face a recession in the near future.
  • 9 September - The England cricket team's tour to India is cancelled after Captain Graham Gooch and seven other players are refused visas because of involvement in South African cricket during the apartheid boycott.[2]
  • 13 September - Royal Mail managers and Union of Communication Workers representatives agree a settlement to end the postal workers strike.[11]
  • 17 September–2 October - Great Britain and Northern Ireland compete at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, and win 5 gold, 10 silver and 9 bronze medals.
  • 30 September - A Gibraltar jury decides that the 3 IRA members killed on March 6 were killed "lawfully".[12]
  • October - Vauxhall launches the third generation of its popular Cavalier family saloon.
  • 9 October - Labour MP and Shadow Chancellor John Smith, 50, is hospitalised with a heart attack in Edinburgh.
  • 12 October - As Pope John Paul II addresses the European Parliament, Ian Paisley heckles and denounces him as the Antichrist.
  • 13 October - the House of Lords rules that extracts of the banned book Spycatcher can be published in the media.[13]
  • 18 October - Jaguar unveils its new Jaguar XJ220 supercar at the Motor Show. It is set go into production in 1990, costing £350,000 and being the world's fastest production car with a top speed of 220 mph.
  • 27 October - Three IRA supporters are found guilty of conspiracy to murder in connection with a plot to kill Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Tom King.
  • 4 November - Margaret Thatcher presses for freedom for the people of Poland on her visit to Gdansk.
  • 9 November - The government unveils plans for a new ID card scheme in an attempt to clamp down on football hooliganism.
  • 30 November - A government report reveals that up to 50,000 people in Britain may be HIV positive, and that by the end of 1992 up to 17,000 people may have died from AIDS.
  • 3 December - Health minister Edwina Currie provokes outrage by stating that most of Britain's egg production is infected with the salmonella bacteria, causing an immediate nationwide fall in egg sales.[14]
  • 6 December - The last shipbuilding facilities on Wearside, once the largest shipbuilding area in the world, are to close with the loss of 2,400 jobs.
  • 10 December - James W. Black wins the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with Gertrude B. Elion and George H. Hitchings "for their discoveries of important principles for drug treatment".[15]
  • 12 December - 35 people are killed in a collision between three trains at Clapham in London.[16]
  • 15 December - Unemployment is now only just over 2,100,000 - the lowest level in this country for almost eight years.
  • 19 December -
    • - The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors publishes its house price survey, revealing a deep recession in the housing market.
      • - PC Gavin Carlton, 29, is shot dead in Coventry in a siege by two armed bank robbers. His colleague DC Leonard Jakeman was also shot but survived. One of the gunmen gave himself up to police, while the other shot himself dead.
  • 21 December - Pan Am Flight 103 explodes over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway and kills a total of 270 people - including all 259 who were on board. It is believed that the cause of the explosion was a terrorist bomb.[17]


  • Inflation remains low for the seventh year running, now standing at 4.9%. [4]





  1. ^ ""Nurses protest for better pay" BBC On This Day". 1988-02-03. Retrieved 2008-02-02.  
  2. ^ a b c d e Penguin Pocket On This Day. Penguin Reference Library. 2006. ISBN 0-141-02715-0.  
  3. ^ Palmer, Alan & Veronica (1992). The Chronology of British History. London: Century Ltd. pp. 454–455. ISBN 0-7126-5616-2.  
  4. ^ ""IRA gang shot dead in Gibraltar" BBC On This Day". 1988-03-07. Retrieved 2008-02-02.  
  5. ^ ""Avalanche hits royal ski party" BBC On This Day". 1988-03-10. Retrieved 2008-02-02.  
  6. ^ ""Three shot dead at Milltown Cemetery" BBC On This Day". 1988-03-16. Retrieved 2008-02-02.  
  7. ^ ""Judges free man jailed over IRA funeral murders" The Daily Telegraph". Retrieved 2008-02-02.  
  8. ^ ""Hick makes cricketing history" BBC On This Day". 1988-05-06. Retrieved 2008-02-02.  
  9. ^ ""Piper Alpha oil rig ablaze" BBC On This Day". 1988-07-06. Retrieved 2008-02-02.  
  10. ^ ""Ashdown to lead Britain's third party" BBC On This Day". 1988-07-28. Retrieved 2008-02-02.  
  11. ^ a b "Britain's Postal Strike Ends With a Settlement". New York Times. 13 September 1988. Retrieved 9 October 2009.  
  12. ^ ""'SAS killed lawfully' - Gibraltar jury" BBC On This Day". 1988-09-30. Retrieved 2008-02-02.  
  13. ^ ""Government loses Spycatcher battle" BBC On This Day". 1988-10-13. Retrieved 2008-02-02.  
  14. ^ ""Egg industry fury over salmonella claim" BBC On This Day". 1988-12-03. Retrieved 2008-02-02.  
  15. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1988". Retrieved 2008-02-02.  
  16. ^ ""35 dead in Clapham rail collision" BBC On This Day". 1988-12-12. Retrieved 2008-02-02.  
  17. ^ ""Jumbo jet crashes onto Lockerbie" BBC On This Day". 1988-12-21. Retrieved 2008-02-02.  

See also


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