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This Sceptred Isle

The Great Debate, Black Monday, & the Great Storm
In June 1987, Margaret Thatcher won yet another General Election.
This should, in theory, have strengthened her position as Tory leader.
Although her public standing seemed assured, there was by then a major split in the Cabinet.
Furthermore, the government was under pressure to abandon plans to phase in an alternative to the local rating system - the community charge, or the Poll Tax as many continued to call the local tax.
As if to forecast political storms ahead, in October 1987, Britain, and more especially, the south east of England, suffered the worst storm of the century.
Landscapes overnight. The emergency services received 6000 calls. On the heels of the storm, came Black Monday, another Stock Market crash.
In London 10 per cent of the total share value disappeared.
The value of publicly quoted companies fell by £50 billion.
Where, Black Monday had only claimed fortunes, an event the following month claimed lives.
At Enniskillen the IRA bombed the Remembrance Day Parade killing 11 and injuring 63.

Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire (1899-1987)

  • Fred Astaire, the American dancing film star, was born Fred Austerlitz in Omaha, Nebraska.
  • He went to dancing lessons from the age of 5 and partnered his sister, Adele until 1932 when she married Lord Cavendish.
  • Brother Fred went to Hollywood.
  • There he struck up his famous screen partnership with Ginger Rogers.
  • Astaire's top hat, white tie and tails, became synonymous with an uncomplicated form of musical entertainment.
  • Nevertheless, those who worked with him were rarely without praise for his dramatic talents and he won a special Academy Award in 1949 and an Emmy in 1978.

did you know?
In 1987 Macdonald's publishers of Enid Blyton's Toyland decided Gollywogs were incorrect and banned them.


THE TIMES comment on the October hurriacane
Storms are for wild places of the world not its cities.
This is one of the structural oppositions we seen in Nature: country versus town, wet versus dry, raw versus cooked; wild versus tame, storm versus urbanity.....Urban storms are such a contradiction that we take them for portents; or invent them retrospectively as suitable harbingers for the funerals of princes...
We think ourselves as rational, late twentieth-century sophisticates; and do not need to expect such momentous consequences or connections from the storm that raged on Thursday night.
But although the coast and countryside suffered grievously, it was in the city where the winds came as the greatest surprise; it was as though it were against some natural law.....
Those who live in more naturally stormy parts will remark that London is, typically and irritatingly, making a fuss about its own mild inconvenience, which was nothing to what they put up with all the time.....
To the City of the Big Bang and the lemming rush hour, the big blow brought death, damage and inconvenience.
It raised important questions of bureaucratic readiness, which will rage for weeks to come.
But it was also a healthy reminder that there is a wild world out there.
Storms are for wild places of the world not its cities.
This is one of the structural oppositions we seen in Nature: country versus town, wet versus dry, raw versus cooked; wild versus tame, storm versus urbanity.....
Urban storms are such a contradiction that we take them for portents; or invent them retrospectively as suitable harbingers for the funerals of princes...
We think ourselves as rational, late twentieth-century sophisticates; and do not need to expect such momentous consequences or connections from the storm that raged on Thursday night.
But although the coast and countryside suffered grievously, it was in the city where the winds came as the greatest surprise; it was as though it were against some natural law.....
Those who live in more naturally stormy parts will remark that London is, typically and irritatingly, making a fuss about its own mild inconvenience, which was nothing to what they put up with all the time.....
To the City of the Big Bang and the lemming rush hour, the big blow brought death, damage and inconvenience.
It raised important questions of bureaucratic readiness, which will rage for weeks to come.
But it was also a healthy reminder that there is a wild world out there.

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Chronology
1979 Margaret Thatcher PM (Conservative)
Rhodesian settlement at Lancaster House
1980Southern Rhodesia becomes Zimbabwe
1981Prince Charles marries Lady Diana Spencer
Ronald Reagan President of the USA
1982Britain wins the Falklands War
1983Margaret Thatcher wins landslide victory
1984Indira Gandhi of India assassinated
Death of poet, John Betjeman
1985Mikhail Gorbachev succeeds Chernenko as Soviet leader
1986Elizabeth II first British monarch to visit China
1987Worst storm of the century rages over Great Britain
1988George Bush wins US Presidential election
1989Tiananmen Square massacre
1990November: Tory political coup, topples Margaret Thatcher. John Major wins Party leadership election
Iraqi invasion of Kuwait
1991The Second Gulf War
1992Conservatives win the General Election
John Major remains PM


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