Days Gone By - What made the headlines on February 15, 1985?


The EADT on February 15, 1985, led the front page with a story reporting on a political war of words between Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Opposition Leader Neil Kinnock.

The row had erupted after civil servant Clive Ponting was cleared of offences under the Official Secrets Act relating to the sinking of the Argentine ship, the General Belgrano, during the Falklands War.

It wasn’t all serious stuff on the front page, however, and there was also a picture of local judge, Bertrand Richards, gratefully receiving a rose – and a kiss – from Miss Anglia to mark his 72nd birthday. The birthday gesture, which the judge clearly enjoyed, was the idea of the High Sheriff.

Elsewhere, the EADT also reported on sad news for fans of The Archers BBC radio programme. Long-standing character Laura Archer had died in her sleep.

In Ipswich, a businessman was pressing ahead with his plans to establish a twice-daily air service between the town’s airport and Amsterdam.

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The paper also told how the prospect of a TV soccer blackout was looming after the 92 Football League clubs turned down a joint offer from the BBC and ITV of £19million to screen four seasons of matches. The arrival of the Sky millions some years later would, of course, change such things.

A further illustration of the contrasting economic realities between then and now is evident in an item showing that the average wedding reception in 1985 cost £527 for food and £ 245 for drinks. A far cry from the thousands often spent today. Local brides back then were also more likely to hire, rather than buy, their gowns for the big day.

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Pop fans could savour a performance of The Boomtown Rats at The Gaumont while at the cinema Eddie Murphy was starring in Beverly Hills Cops.

National and international news

“Thatcher scorns Labour response”. That was the main headline on the front page of the EADT on February 15, 1985, as a political war of words raged in Westminster.

The story reported on how relations between Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Labour leader Neil Kinnock had slumped to a new low. Mrs Thatcher said she had lost all respect for the Opposition Leader while he dismissed her comments as “pathetic”. The row was over the prosecution of civil servant Clive Ponting, who had been cleared earlier in the week of offences under the Official Secrets Act, relating to the alleged passing of documents about the sinking of the General Belgrano to Labour MP Tam Dalyell.

In lighter vein, the front page also featured a picture story showing Judge Bertrand Richards, who lived at Woodbridge, being kissed by Miss Anglia – Angela Goldby – as she presented him with a Valentine’s Day rose to mark his 72nd birthday.

Elsewhere, the EADT reported on how listeners to BBC Radio 4’s The Archers were coming to terms with the sad news that Laura Archer had died in her sleep. Cricketer Ian Botham had been fined £100 after admitting possessing cannabis on New Year’s Eve and the Church of England General Synod decided against experimentation on human embryos. The decision came as the Commons was about to debate Enoch Powell’s Unborn Protection Bill.

A TV blackout of Football League matches loomed after the 92 clubs turned down a £19million joint deal offered by the BBC and ITV to screen four seasons of soccer. The days of the massive Sky TV pay-outs were, of course, still some way off in 1985.

Local news

An Ipswich businessman was pressing ahead with plans for an air link between the county town and Amsterdam. Roy Suckling, of Suckling Aviation, said he was preparing for a Civil Aviation Authority hearing on his application for a route licence to fly twice daily between Ipswich and Schipol Airport.

At High Woods, Colchester, some residents were expressing concern over plans to double the size of the Tesco store. A number of people were reported to be worried about the loss of trees if the expansion went ahead.

Brewer Tolly Cobbold announced sponsorship of the biggest East Anglian ballroom dancing event for years with £500 prize money for winners of the competition, to be staged at Ipswich Corn Exchange in March.

Babergh Council was about to appoint an officer to deal with civil and military emergencies. He, or she, would also deal with less serious problems such as power blackouts or heavy snow.

The cost of weddings in 1985 reflected a much more modest event than many of today’s profligate occasions. The average East Anglian reception catered for 98 guests at a cost of £527 for food, £245 for drinks and £79 for a cake. Women still wanted traditional weddings “with a lacy white dress, a bevy of bridesmaids and a gleaming limousine.” But the survey also said local brides were almost twice as likely to hire, rather than buy, a gown for the big day.

In sport, Jason Dozzell, Ipswich Town’s 17-year-old first-team striker, was named in the England youth squad for a European Youth Championship qualifying match against the Republic of Ireland.

The adverts

Fancy a holiday home in the sun? Propertunities had just the answer at Costa Blance villa exhibitions being held in Ipswich and Lowestoft. Many properties “located among unspoilt conservation areas”. Inspection flights every weekend.

If home improvement was more up your street, there was plenty on offer in 1985: Orwell Joinery offered to restyle kitchens “at a fraction of the cost” of a new one while Jewson was advertising £1,000 off “craftsman-built real wood kitchens, the most natural quality that money can buy.”

And once you completed your kitchen makeover you could think about equipping it – the Wadsworth Split Level Kitchen Appliance Centre had microwave cooking demonstrations in Bury St Edmunds, while Eastern Electricity’s “smash-hit sale” offered reductions of up to £60 on the price of a new cooker.

Eastern Electricity was also promoting lower central heating fuel bills with its Economy 7 system – “no pipes, boilers, flues or fuel storage.”

Looking for a new carpet? Choosing the right one was an art, according to Sudbury’s in Woodbridge Road, Ipswich, where you could indulge in “the art of home decor”.

There were also special offers to lure car buyers: a Fiat Uno ‘Classico’ reduced by £500 to £4,895 – with two bottles of Chianti thrown in free with every ‘Classico’ as a deal-clincher at Station Garage, Ipswich. Or you could claim £25 off the price of a Peugeot with a voucher for Howes & Sons in Woodbridge.


Live on stage at the Gaumont, Ipswich, were The Boomtown Rats. At the Town Hall – a concert of Indian classical dance and music (admission £1.50, children free with adults). At the Wolsey Theatre – Macbeth. At Ipswich Corn Exchange – Haven Organs were presenting Brian Sharp in concert – playing the new Kawai X430 electronic organ.

At the cinema, the choice included Beverly Hills Cop with Eddie Murphy, All of Me (Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin), The Man, The Myth (Bruce Lee), Ghostbusters (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver) A Force of One (Chuck Norris), The Last Starfighter (Robert Preston) and Gremlins.

On TV, Nature, the gentle-sounding BBC 2 weekly wildlife programme, was asking some nitty-gritty questions about whales being used to line the pockets of the tourist industry. This included reference to killer whales at Clacton Pier. Victoria Wood was bidding a sad farewell to her popular BBC-2 slot, while a new American comedy series, The Cosby Show, was arriving on Channel 4. Bill Cosby had recently risen to become a highly sought-after comedian in the US.

Looking for a house?

BELSTEAD Hills (must be seen): Modern two-bedroom, end terraced house, gas central heating, garage, ideal first purchase; only £25,995.

Or a job?

Employment opportunities in 1985 included the following:

Our top rep earned well over £10,000 last year – can you do the same? She also had the benefit of a company car. She sells stationery and office equipment in a local area. She is between 25-36 years. Business Superstores Limited, Chelmsford.

Well-known and highly recommended hotel requires a head receptionist. The successful applicant will have a bright outgoing personality and plenty of charm. The position may suit someone with sound practical experience looking for promotion, age 20+, live in or out. The Marlborough Hotel, Henley Road, Ipswich.

Manager required for specialist record shop – knowledge of classical music essential. Zodiac Records, Carr Precinct, Ipswich.

Welcome to the world

COE – Mary (nee Leeks) and Bill are pleased to announce the early arrival of a son, Ryan, William, Francis, a dear brother for Katrina and Karlene, on February 6, 1985. Our thanks and appreciation to all the kind staff on Orwell Ward and S.B.C.U., Heath Road Hospital, for all their care and devotion.

Valentine Greeting

GAIL – Of Westleton, a one hell of a woman, I want to make you happy, my throbbing heart cares, won’t give up. – (M) X.

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