Days Gone By - On this day in 1980 three people were killed when a bomb blast ripped through a train in Belfast

Days gone by
18 January 1980

Days gone by 18 January 1980

Here we look back at the headline news from Friday, January 18, 1980, when you could buy a house in Aldeburgh for just £20,000.

National and international news

The main news story in the EADT on January 18, 1980, told how three people had died after a fireball bomb ripped through a rush-hour train on the outskirts of West Belfast. Panic-stricken passengers – many with their clothes ablaze – leapt from the two-coach train while it was still moving. Five others were in hospital with severe burns. Two of the three people killed were believed to have been IRA Volunteers – thought to have been transporting the explosive device to Belfast.

In London, a young Arab was killed in the first of two mystery bomb blasts that rocked a West End hotel. Later, a Palestinian commando group claimed responsibility.

Union leaders representing about a million local authority workers accepted a 13% pay offer worth around £260million.

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Local news

Details of a multi-million pound extension to the port of Felixstowe were being announced in London. The initial stage of the development covered 65 acres and the first ship to berth at the new terminal was expected by the end of the year.

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A Suffolk girl was awarded £10,000 damages after a tribunal decided that her “severely mentally handicapped” condition was caused by a vaccination she received at a private practice in Sudbury when she was a baby.

An Ipswich clergyman had launched a crusade against the screening in the town of the controversial film The Life of Brian. The Rev Kenneth Smith, minister of the town’s Elim Pentecostal Church, planned to picket the ABC Cinema in the Buttermarket.

Plans for a multi-million pound redevelopment of part of Bury St Edmunds town centre received a shock setback when the county highways sub-committee rejected proposals to close Brentgovel Street to traffic – seen to be crucial to the success of the planned major facelift of the site.

Despite opposition, Waveney District Council voted to allow nude sunbathing at Corton, near Lowestoft.

A Felixstowe woman police officer, Lorraine Edser, aged 19, won a “Most Attractive WPc in Britain” competition.

In sport, Ipswich Town completed the signing of 18-year-old winger Kevin O’Callaghan from Millwall for a club cash record fee of £200,000. Manager Bobby Robson described his new arrival as “an investment for the future. I’ve bought a player for the eighties.”


There was plenty of live entertainment on offer locally in 1980: Black Dyke Mills Band heading for the Spa Pavilion, Felixstowe; The Ipswich Choral Society’s Christmas Oratorio at St John’s Church, Ipswich; Mother Goose at Colchester Mercury Theatre and Agatha Christie’s Spiders Web at the Wolsey Theatre.

For those of a Country and Western persuasion there was comedy from the intriguingly named Shag Connors Carrot Crunchers (with Stuffing, the beer-drinking cockerel, and Shackle Country Band). All at the Assembly Rooms, Diss.

At the cinema it was a mixed bag, catering for all tastes – Monty Python’s controversial Life of Brian; Yanks (Richard Gere, Vanessa Redgrave, Rachel Roberts); Manhattan (Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep); Bear Island (Donald Sutherland, Richard Widmark, Christopher Lee,) or Let us Play Sex and Sex is Beautiful.

On TV, sports fans could indulge themselves on BBC2 with snooker’s Pot Black championship clash between John Spencer and Dennis Taylor followed by International Pro-Celebrity Golf (Jimmy Tarbuck and Ben Crenshaw taking on Eric Sykes and Lee Trevino).

On Anglia, David Jason (as Peter Barnes) was having to cope with the arrival of a difficult father-in-law in the comedy series A Sharp Intake of Breath.

The adverts

1) They say sex sells and a French car company was indulging in plenty of double entendre with an advert for its new range. “We’ll persuade you to be unfaithful” was the claim for “The Seductress” Renault 18. This range, with seven models to choose from, was “the most seductive little number since the wheel: her beauty is far more than skin-deep...” It went on to suggest that “a truly seductive trade-in offer should prove irresistible... and bring out your infidelity.”

If you fancied a taste of real-life French romance Rules Coaches of Boxford were offering a Paris weekend for £42.

2) And if coach travel seemed too tame, Air UK “Europe’s newest airline” was heralding “an entirely new concept in British air travel.” New scheduled services from airports across the country, including Stansted.

3) With all the bank closures of recent years it’s notable that in 1980 it was all about expansion – Lloyds had just opened a branch in Martlesham Heath “because more and more people are using our services.”

Mobile phones were still a long way off in 1980, which probably explains an advert for a “radio message relay service.” Aimed at local businesses, the 24-hour service covered approximately 500 sq miles of East Anglia, costing “from as little as £10 per vehicle per week, including VAT.”

Looking for a house?

?ALDEBURGH – attractive terraced cottage, good condition, 2 reception (double sliding doors between) kitchen and bathroom/wc, 2 double bedrooms, 1 single, full oil c/h, tiny garden, large shed, car space, offers in region £20,000.

Or a job?

Employment opportunities in January 1980 included:

Crane Ltd – Night Shift Foundry Workers. Good rates of pay. Monday to Thursday nights. Applicants must have steady job records and be fit and strong as these jobs are very strenuous.

Trainee animal technicians to work with technicians and scientists in safety evaluation of drugs, agrochemicals and potential environmental hazards. These positions involve working with and caring for animals whilst they form part of our studies. Competitive salaries, four weeks annual holiday, subsidised staff restaurant and company transport scheme from Diss, Ipswich, Debenham, Bungay and Norwich. Life Science Research, Occold, near Eye, Suffolk.

?Yellowline urgently need owner drivers with modern cars for local work at busy American base.

Welcome to the world

MOSES – to Ruth (nee Barker) and Malcolm, a precious daughter Kirstie Ruth and sister to Nicholas, thanks to midwife and staff Brook Ward.

What were you doing January 1980? Share your photos with us, email us today.

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