The 1970s was a traumatic decade for London. Changes in global trade disrupted all sectors of the economy. As docks and factories closed, so inner city London developed a landscape of dereliction and decay. The IRA bombing campaign brought fear to the capital's streets. The population was shrinking and unemployment rising. Some people predicted that London was dying.

Londoners grew more assertive about their rights. The Equal Pay Act and a tougher Race Relations Act, had brought better conditions, in theory, for women and ethnic minority Londoners. But industrial relations worsened, along with other social tensions. A prolonged and bitter strike at the Grunwick film processing plant in Willesdon in 1976 was one of many London events that played out the decade's conflicts in front of the world's media.

London's population, 1971

Greater London: 7,452,356 people
Inner London: 3,031,935 people

London's economy and jobs

By the mid 1970s more than half of the inner-city docks had closed and the docks workforce had fallen to under 10,000, a third of what it had been 20 years earlier. Jobs in manufacturing industry also disappeared at an unprecedented and alarming rate. Unemployment in London rose from 196,000 people (3.6% of the workforce) in 1971 to nearly 400,000 (7.2% of the workforce) in 1976.

By the end of the decade manufacturing's share of London's economy had fallen from 32% to 19%. Overall, service jobs now outnumbered manufacturing jobs by a considerable margin. 24% of London's jobs were in public services and 16% in finance, industry and banking

Bookmark with:

  • What are these?