Many of the tensions of the 1970s continued into the 1980s. Hostility between the Metropolitan Police and the West Indian community erupted into riots in Brixton in 1981. Hostility between national government and the Greater London Council (GLC) led to the abolition of the GLC in 1986. The IRA resumed its bombing campaign.

But the 1980s also saw new reasons for optimism about London's future. After reaching its lowest point in 1983 London's population began to rise for the first time in the century. Money began to flow through the City of London as the banking and financial service industries took over the role previously taken by the docks of placing London at the centre of global wealth creation. The biggest physical change London had seen in centuries began to transform the derelict docks into gleaming new office and residential districts. Docklands was Europe's largest ever urban regeneration project.

London's population, 1981

Greater London: 6,608,598 people
Inner London: 2,425,630 people

London's economy and jobs

London's banking and financial industries grew astonishingly in the decade, to become the driver not just of London's economy but the whole British economy. In 1986 'Big Bang' relaxed regulations on share dealing, enabling the City of London to consolidate its position as one of the world's three major financial capitals. Its workforce became increasingly multinational and its business increasingly global.

While banking and financial services grew by 30% between 1981 and 1991, manufacturing in London continued to decline. By 1990 London had been thoroughly de-industrialised and manufacturing's share of London's economy had shrunk to only 12%, a massive drop from the 40% or so it had been in the 1950s.

Bookmark with:

  • What are these?