Days Gone By: What made the news on January 11, 1985


We take a trip back in time to take a look at what was making the headlines on this day in 1985.


The main story on the front page of the EADT on January 11, 1985, concerned a gas explosion – that killed at least eight people in a block of flats in London. Rescuers had miraculously saved one woman after she had spent six hours trapped inside a tiny cavity in the wreckage of the building in Putney.

Also on the front page, but on a lighter note, was a picture-story featuring an EADT reporter who had been road-testing the recently launched revolutionary C5 electric trike, the brainchild of computer tycoon Clive Sinclair.

Present-day readers will be familiar with the recent controversy over the threat to the future of local courts. In January, 1985, the EADT reported how recommendations to shut magistrates’ courts at Hadleigh and Woodbridge were bringing the likelihood of closure a step closer.

There was also concern about the impact of the proposed Felixstowe Dock extension on the “revered” Rover Orwell landscape.

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The freezing weather was taking its toll and local plumbers were struggling to meet the demand for repairs to a high number of burst pipes.

For those contemplating an early escape to warmer climes, one advertiser was offering a 10-day break in the sun with “full board in good hotel” all for £85. Or, if you were looking for something to get you moving after the festive excesses, you might consider learning to dance in time for the summer holidays. Or how about a parachute jump at Ipswich Airport?

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For couch potatoes, TV offered some new arrivals, including a pilot screening of the cops-and-robbers show, Dempsey and Makepeace. Victoria Wood was also launching her comedy series – As Seen on TV.

National and international news

A gas explosion that wrecked a block of flats, killing at least eight people in London, was the main story on the front page of the EADT on January 11, 1985. Miraculously, one woman was rescued after spending a nightmare six hours trapped inside a tiny cavity at the scene of the devastation in Putney.

On a lighter note, another front-page item featured a reporter road-testing the newly launched Sinclair C5 electric trike, the brainchild of computer tycoon Clive Sinclair.

Andrew Young described how scores of motorists had stared in disbelief as he drove the plastic-bodied vehicle, powered by a simple 12-volt battery, over the Orwell Bridge. Said to be able to travel 1,000 miles for the price of a gallon of petrol, the vehicle cost £399. Sir Clive was predicting that 100,000 would be sold in Britain in the first year.

Young observed: “Once I got rid of the feeling that I was driving an invalid carriage, it was quite enjoyable ... it got a bit tiring, especially on my backside, but the pain could have been remedied by a decent cushion.”

Local news

The future of courts in Suffolk has been a controversial issue in recent months and the same was true in January, 1985. Under the headline “Suffolk courts near closure,” a report outlined how the proposed death sentence for two magistrates’ courts had come a step closer. The county council’s policy committee was about to consider recommendations to close the Hadleigh and Woodbridge courts.

The cold weather was taking its toll and local plumbers had been flooded with requests to repair burst pipes.

Meanwhile, a Suffolk Coastal Council working party was warning that the controversial Felixstowe Dock extension plan would harm the “revered” River Orwell landscape. It claimed that the planting of 500,000 trees to screen the proposed extension was not enough to preserve the quality of the landscape.

At Bury St Edmunds, banner-waving parents demonstrated their concern about the fate of a fire-torn school. About 100 mothers converged on Howard Middle School – destroyed in a £1million blaze in November. They were fearful that the school would become the victim of a cost-cutting exercise and would not be rebuilt.

And at Great Cornard, residents of an estate were said to be upset because Babergh council was using industrial-built homes in the Shawlands Estate as a temporary dumping ground for homeless people. The council was urged to consider providing a hostel for the homeless to tackle the problem.

The adverts

Homeowners were being encourage take advantage of a new computerised design service that promised to transform any kitchen. You could choose from a selection of 21 ranges and hundreds of colour and handle combinations – “the quality guaranteed for seven whole years.” This was “available for the first time in Ipswich” – at the Anglia Kitchen Design Centre in Museum Street.

If the cold spell was turning thoughts to warmer climes you could grab a break in the Spanish sun with London Colney Coaches: “10 days at Easter, full board, good hotel, private facilities, balcony etc at Malgrat de Mar.” All for £85.

Or, if you wanted to get the new year off to an active start – perhaps “learning to dance for your summer holidays” – then beginners’ classes were about to start at the Lait Dance Club, in Clarkson Street, Ipswich. Or how about a parachute jump at Ipswich Airport? Yes, there was an airport back then.

On the new car sales front you could “Come to Downs and drive a bargain...” The Sudbury garage was offering a two-litre Capri Laser Saloon for £5,965 or an Orion 1.3 saloon for £5,105.

At Eastern Electricity’s “smash hit sale” you could save £30 on a Hotpoint dishwasher (reduced to £239.90) or get a free sports bag if you bought an Electrolux cylinder vacuum cleaner.

Home furnishers Bretts were still promoting their “great annual sale” – with a Parker Knoll classic suite down from £1,770 to £1,195.


At the cinema The Natural (based on a baseball novel, with Robert Redford, Glenn Close, Robert Duvall and Kim Basinger) was being screened in several locations – at Ladbrokes Film Theatre, Felixstowe, at Aldeburgh Cinema Ltd and the Empire Theatre, Halstead. Elsewhere there was The Woman in Red, starring Gene Wilder and featuring music by Stevie Wonder, and a special late-night screening (doors open 10.30pm) at ABC 1 Ipswich of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

On stage, Colchester’s Mercury Theatre was getting set for the world premiere of Cursor or Deadly Embrace, described as a spine-tingling new thriller. Christina Ortiz was performing a piano recital (music by Liszt, Schumann, Chopin) at the Ipswich Gaumont.

Also lining up for live shows in Ipswich were Gerry and the Pacemakers and the Swinging Blue Jeans.

On TV, Les Dawson was occupying the early evening BBC1 slot with Blankety Blank while on ITV Denis Norden was showing amusing clips in It’ll Be Alright on the Night. This was followed by a feature-length pilot episode of a new cops-and-robbers series Dempsey and Makepeace, starring Ray Smith, Michael Brandon and Glynis Barber. A new comedy series was beginning on BBC2: Victoria Wood – As Seen on TV. Women’s Lib hadn’t quite fully registered in 1985 and BBC1 also had coverage of the Miss Great Britain contest.

Looking for a house?

RUSHMERE, Playford Road, 4-bedroom detached bungalow, gas-fired c/h, luxury bathroom with separate shower, cloakroom, utility room, luxury fitted kitchen/diner, porch, full double glazing, double length garage with workshop and pit , large patio with small above-ground pool, large shed, gardens extending to quarter acre, must be seen to be appreciated, offers in the region of £65,950.

Or a job? Vacancies on January 11, 1985, included:

Dynamic young sales person for Andy’s Records busy Ipswich superstore – ideally aged 18-25 with bright personality and appearance. An excellent knowledge of contemporary music is absolutely essential. Great career prospects and highly competitive salary.

Assistant larder chef within catering department at Willis Faber and Dumas. Good salary and fringe benefits associated with large company.

Organist needed Kesgrave Parish Church, either two Sunday services and choir practice (£500 pa plus fees) or 11am Sundays (£165 pa). Friendly and lively church.

Welcome to the world

STANNARD – On December 31, 1984, to Beverley and Neville, a beautiful son, James Edward, first grandchild for Rosy and Ernie, second grandchild for Maisie and Will. Grateful thanks to all concerned.

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