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
- 1971 decimal currency
- 1973-4 IRA bombs in Woolwich, Heathrow and Central London
- 1974 Covent Garden market closes and moves to Nine Elms
- 1974 London's first MacDonalds restaurant opens in South London
- 1975 The Balcombe Street and Spaghetti House sieges
- 1975 Snow falls in June for the first time since records began
- 1977 The Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II
- 1976 Museum of London, the Barbican, the City of London
- 1977 building starts on The New British Library, St Pancras, Camden
- 1976 first supersonic Concorde flight from London to New York
- 1979 Jubilee line opens
What are these?
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