In 2013 the government began its move towards releasing records when they are 20 years old, instead of 30. During 2013 The National Archives received records from 1983 and 1984, and in 2014 records from 1985 and 1986. Two further years’ worth of government records are being transferred to us each year until 2022 when we will receive the records from 2001 and 2002.
March 1984MinerThe National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) gives official backing to an indefinite strike of 70,000 men. The strike lasts one year, ending in March 1985.October 1984IRA bomb the Conservative Party Conference in BrightonAn IRA bomb explodes at the Grand Hotel, Brighton during a Conservative Party Conference, killing four people.
September 1985Wreck of RMS Titanic foundThe wreck of RMS Titanic is located. The first photos and films are taken 73 years after it sank.September 1985Riots in Birmingham and LondonRioting starts in Birmingham and later in Brixton after the shooting of a black woman during a police search of her house. The unrest breaks out later on the Broadwater Farm Estate in Tottenham, resulting in the death of a police officer.Image attributed to Kim Aldis
April 1986John McCarthy kidnappedJournalist John McCarthy is kidnapped during the Lebanon hostage crisis. Church of England envoy, Terry Waite, is kidnapped in January 1987 while negotiating for his release. They are both eventually freed in 1991.Image attributed to FunkMonkOctober 1986AIDS health campaign launchedThe Government launches a £20m campaign to warn about the dangers of AIDS.
October 1987Black MondayWall Street crash wipes £50bn off the value of shares on the London Stock Exchange.November 1987Remembrance Day bombing11 people are killed by an IRA bomb at a Remembrance Day service in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland.Image attributed to Dean Molyneaux
July 1988Piper Alpha oil rig disasterAn explosion on the North Sea oil rig Piper Alpha kills 170 people.Image attributed to Elliott SimpsonNovember 1988Lockerbie bombingPan Am Flight 103 explodes over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, killing 270 people, including 11 inhabitants.Image attributed to Dean Molyneaux
August 1989Marchioness disasterThe pleasure boat, the Marchioness, sinks in the River Thames after colliding with a barge, killing 51 people.November 1989Fall of the Berlin WallThe demolition of the Berlin Wall marks the beginning of the end of the Cold War.Image attributed to Sue Ream
May 1990France bans imports of British beefFrance bans British beef and live cattle imports over fears of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease.November 1990Margaret Thatcher resignsMargaret Thatcher fails to win an outright victory in a leadership contest and resigns as leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister. John Major succeeds her.Image attributed to Jay Galvin
January 1991Gulf War beginsThe Gulf War begins with the aerial bombardment of Iraq.February 199110 Downing Street attackedThe Provisional IRA launch a mortar bomb attack on 10 Downing Street while the Cabinet is in session.
February 1992Maastricht Treaty signedThe signing of the Maastricht Treaty creates the European Union and paves the way for the creation of a single European currency.September 1992Black WednesdayThe government suspends Britain
April 1993Murder of Stephen LawrenceBlack teenager Stephen Lawrence is murdered while waiting for a bus on the evening of 22 April 1993.December 1993UK and Irish governments sign declarationThe Downing Street Declaration is signed by the UK and Irish governments to promote talks on the future of Northern Ireland.
June 1994Chinook helicopter crashA Chinook helicopter crashes in the Mull of Kintyre killing 29 people.July 1994Tony Blair becomes Leader of the Labour Party, following the death of John SmithTony Blair wins the Labour leadership contest and becomes Leader of the Labour Party, following the death of John Smith.
February 1995Barings Bank collapsesBarings merchant bank goes into receivership following heavy losses in its Singapore Office.Image attributed to WikipediaJuly 1995War in Bosnia and Herzegovina beginsBritish forces are sent to Sarajevo to help relieve the long-running siege in the city.
March 1996Dunblane massacreA gunman kills 16 children, their teacher and himself at a primary school in Dunblane, Scotland.July 1996First successfully cloned mammal in UKDolly the sheep is the first mammal cloned from an adult cell, rather than being conceived naturally. This opened up the ethnical debate on genetic engineering.
May 1997Labour win general electionTony Blair wins a landslide general election and becomes Prime Minister.August 1997Princess Diana dies in car crashDiana Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed die in a car crash in Paris after being chased by paparazzi.
April 1998Good Friday Agreement signedThe agreement marks a major political development in the Northern Ireland peace process.August 1998Omagh bombingOpposed to the Good Friday Agreement, the Real IRA bomb the town of Omagh, killing 29 people.
January 1999The Euro is launchedThe European single currency, the Euro, becomes the new official currency of 11 Member states.May 1999Scottish and Welsh electionsThe first elections to the new Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly are held, following a referendum to devolve some powers to respective governments in 1997.
January 2000Millennium Dome opensThe Millennium Dome was commissioned to house an exhibition celebrating the beginning of the third millennium. Although the original exhibition was dismantled, the structure is now used as a popular music venue.October 2000Hatfield rail crashA train derails south of Hatfield station, killing four people.
February 2001Foot and mouth diseaseFoot and mouth disease is detected in British herds, prompting a mass slaughter of animals as a precautionary measure.September 20019/11The Islamist militant group al-Qaeda hijack four passenger planes, crashing two into New York’s World Trade Centre, and killing nearly 3,000 people. This instigated the war in Afghanistan, which begins in October.Image courtesy of the Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
April 2002Queen Elizabeth II celebrates the Golden JubileeThe Queen addresses Parliament in a speech marking 50 years on the throne. This follows a difficult year that saw the deaths of both her sister, Princess Margaret, and the Queen mother.May 2002Potters Bar rail crashA train derails at Potters bar, killing seven people.Image attributed to Nigel Cox
The Public Records Act requires central government departments, and certain other public bodies, to identify records of historical value and transfer them for permanent preservation to The National Archives, or to another appointed place of deposit, by the time they are 30 years old. The Government is reducing this timeframe from 30 to 20 years.
This is a major change and one that is being introduced in a manageable and affordable way, using a phased approach. The first phase began in 2013 and applied to the government departments and other bodies that transfer records to The National Archives. It also applies to the bodies that are places of deposit for their own records, such as the Tate Gallery, and to specialist collecting archives such as the Imperial War Museum.
Two years’ worth of government records will be transferred to us each year until 2022. From then on a single year’s worth of records that are 20 years old will be transferred. The transition to a 20-year-rule will take place over ten years and we are publishing data on the volume and transfer status of the records held by those bodies that transfer to us on our website.
The second phase – records of local interest
From 1 January 2015, transition to the new rule began for records of specified bodies transferring records to local places of deposit. Records within this category are primarily of local interest and include those created by Magistrates’ courts and the NHS. Find out more about the 20-year rule for records of local interest.
When these records are transferred to The National Archives or another place of deposit they are usually ‘open’ and available for public access. This is because some of the exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act, which provide the grounds for ‘closing’ records, fall away at the same time. The government has also decided to bring forward, from 30 to 20 years, the point at which some of these exemptions fall away so that these transferred records are routinely available for public access.
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