June 26: The temperature in London hit a record 95F. It
was the year of the drought and the following month Parliament
published the Drought Bill introducing special measures to deal
with the worst dry spell in 250 years.
over Britain reservoirs ran dry. In some, long-drowned villages
could be seen, an even visited, for the first time since they
had been inundated. Much of the West Country and Wales was left
without tapwater by day. Fires raged out of control in the New
Forest and on some moors.
Stand pipes in streets, and queues waiting patiently with buckets,
became a familiar sight. Industry was forced to ration water and
some Midland businesses had to operate a shorter working week.
Dirty cars came to be seen as patriotic, families learned how
to recycle their bath water to keep their vegetables alive, and
water lost by flushing toilets was reduced by the simple expedient
of putting a brick in the cistern.
Some put their faith in rain dancers. But Downing Street opted
for Denis Howell, the popular sports minister. He was created
minister for drought. And a few days later, on August 31, a sudden
shower stopped play at Lord's. The crowd cheered. The rains had
July 31: Romanian gymnast, 14-year-old Nadia Comaneci,
was awarded the first perfect 10 in Olympic history for her performance
on the asymmetric bars in Montreal. She went on to score five
further 10s and three gold medals in a games marred by the boycott
of 22 African nations angered by the presence of New Zealand,
which still had sporting links with South Africa.
the winter games at Innsbruck in Feburary, Birmingham's John Curry
won gold in the men's figure skating, becoming the first Briton
to win a medal of any description in men's skating events. His
balletic performance proved a watershed in the sport which had
become dominated by technical expertise.
More than 100 hostages held in Uganda by pro-Palestinian
skyjackers were rescued when Israeli commandos stormed the airport
at Entebbe. The Air France jetliner had been hijacked in Athens
while on a flight from Tel Aviv to Paris. The troops took the
seven raiders by surprise when they landed in three giant Hercules
transport planes and rushed the airport lounge where the hostages,
mainly Israeli and Jewish travellers, were being held.
In the 35-minute battle that followed, 20 Ugandan soldiers and
all seven hijackers died. Three hostages and one Israeli commando
were also killed. The attack came just hours before a deadline
set by the hijackers for killing the hostages if demands for the
release of 53 pro-Palestinian terrorists held in several jails
were not met. The Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, who had been giving
help to the hijackers, later congratulated his troops for "repulsing
August 6: Disgraced Walsall MP John Stonehouse, who faked
his own drowning off a Miami beach, stood stone-faced as he was
sentenced to seven years for fraud, theft and deception. But beside
him, the woman with whom he had intended to live the good life
in Australia, buried her head in her hands and wept. It was the
first real emotion that 29-year-old Sheila Buckley had shown during
the marathon 68-day trial.
She was sentenced to two years' imprisonment, suspended for
two years, for her part in Stonehouse's get-rich-quick schemes.
The 51-year-old MP for Walsall North, once tipped as future leader
of the Labour Party, had been found guilty of 18 charges involving
theft and false pretence, sparking calls for his immediate resignation.
August 8: Two ordinary women from Ulster, sickened by
the continuing violence on the streets of their province, launched
the Ulster Peace Movement. The idea was sparked by the death of
three children who were crushed by a car spinning out of control
after its terrorist driver had been shot and killed by the army.
Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan, the dead children's aunt,
appealed to the women of Ulster to speak and act against the killings.
The movement spread spontaneously.
January 2: Hurricane-force winds
of up to 105mph in Britain left 22 people dead and caused
January 21: The first commercial
flights by the supersonic airliner Concorde were launched
simultaneously - from London to Bahrain and from Paris to
January 28: Bags of spuds appeared
among the prizes at a Wolverhampton bingo hall as a potato
shortage caused prices to soar.
February 2: The Queen opened the 60
million NEC in Birmingham despite anxious moments beforehand
when the airport runway had to be treated with de-icing fluid
before the royal aircraft could land.
February 9: Sandwell struck a blow
for sex equality when two women started work on a corporation
dustcart, emptying bins.
February 18: Controversy erupted
over the Tate Gallery's newest exhibit - a pile of bricks
by artist Carl Andre.
March 16: Prime Minister Harold
Wilson resigned without warning.
March 19: Princess Margaret and
Lord Snowdon split after 15 years of marriage.
Jeremy Thorpe resigned as leader of the Liberal Party, complaining
of "a sustained witchhunt" against him following claims
by former male model Norman Scott that they once had a sexual
May 17: Britain's No.1 shot putter
walked out of an international meeting at Wolverhampton's
Aldersely Stadium, complaining his concentration had been
repeatedly disturbed by the public address system.
July 3: Swedish tennis player Bjorn
Borg, aged 20, became the idol of teenage Wimbledon fans
when he beat Ilie Nastase of Romania to become the youngest
champion for 45 years.
September 9: Chairman Mao Tse-tung,
leader of Communist China's 800 million population and author
of the "Little Red Book", died at the age of 82.
October 24: Britain's James Hunt
drove to victory in the world motor racing championship.
November 2: Georgia peanut farmer
Jimmy Carter knocked Gerald Ford out of office by winning
the presidency of the United States for the Democrats.
December 17: Young Dudley comedian
Lenny Henry, aged just 16, was voted Britain's top non-smoker
for his declaration aimed at teenagers that cigarettes were