20th century Britain timeline

Tracing the history of Britain from 1901-2012…

1900
Reign of King Edward VII 1901-10
Reign of King Edward VII
1903
The Women’s Social and Political Union is formed to campaign for women’s suffrage. Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst soon become the most prominent members.
1904
Britain and France sign the Entente Cordiale, ending centuries of sporadic conflict and paving the way to future diplomatic and military co-operation

1906
The first Dreadnought class battleship is launched at Portsmouth. The most powerful battleship afloat, it raises  the bar in the Anglo-German naval arms race
1907
The Anglo-Russian Entente is formed
1908
The Olympic Games are held in London. Parliament approves the introduction of means-tested old age pensions of up to five shillings a week for people over 70 years old
1910

1910-36
Reign of King George V
1911
The Parliament Act means the House of Lords cannot veto legislation passed by the House of Commons in three successive sessions; it also establishes five-yearly parliamentary elections
1912
The Ulster Volunteer Force is formed in opposition to Liberal proposals for Home Rule for Ireland for the third time
1912
The White Liner Titanic sinks on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York with the loss of more than 1500 lives
1913
Suffragette Emily Davidson is killed after throwing herself in front of the King’s horse at the Derby
1916
Irish Nationalists of the Easter Rising seize key buildings in Dublin, but the rising is crushed
1914-18
The First World War – Major battles and casualties include Ypres (1914, 1915),the Somme, during which the British employed tanks for the first time (1916), Jutland (1916) and Passchendaele (1917).Other key dates include the German U-boat sinking of the Lusitania (1915), Zeppelin raids on British cities(from 1915), conscription (from 1916), entry into the war of the USA (1917), and Armistice on the Western Front 11am, 11 November 1918
1918
The Royal Air Force is formed
1919
The Treaty of Versailles establishes peace in Europe. Lady Astor becomes the first woman to sit as a British MP. Sinn Fein sets up the Dail Eireann (Irish Constituent Assembly) in Dublin proclaiming Ireland’s independence; the British government outlaws the assembly, sparking a two-year war with the IRA
1920
1920
Women at Oxford University are allowed to receive degrees
1922
James Joyce’s Ulysses and T S Eliot’s The Waste Land are published
1924
Ramsay MacDonald becomes Britain’s first Labour prime minister, but the party loses the election to the Conservatives later in the year
1926
Scottish inventor and engineer John Logie Baird gives the first public demonstration of television, leading to the historic trans-Atlantic transmissions of television from London to New York in 1928. The General Strike following cuts in the coal-mining industry lasts just nine days
1928
Women over the age of 21 are given the vote. The first “talkies” (films with audible dialogue) are shown in Britain. Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin
1929
The Wall Street Crash in America sparks the Great Depression
1930
1932
Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is published
1934
Scottish Nationalist Party is formed to campaign for an independent Scotland
1935
The first Penguin paperbacks bring quality contemporary writing to the masses at affordable prices
1936-52
Reign of King George VI
1936
Edward VIII becomes King but abdicates. Men from Jarrow, Tyne and Wear, march to London to petition Parliament for a new steel works following the closure of the local shipyard in an area of mass unemployment and poverty
1938
The Munich Agreement and infamous claim by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain that he returned having achieved “Peace for our time”
1939
Britain declares war on Germany after the invasion of Poland. The Second World War continues until 1945: key episodes include the evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain (1940); entry of the Soviet Union and USA into the war (1941); the D-Day invasion of France; and surrender of Germany and then Japan (1945)
1942
The Beveridge Report lays the foundations for the Welfare State, including the creation of the National Health Service in 1948
1948
Britain hosts the Olympic Games in London, dubbed the Austerity Games because rationing is still in force
1947
India becomes independent from Britain and is partitioned
1950
1951
The Festival of Britain seeks to lift spirits and sustain post-war confidence
1952
Reign of Queen Elizabeth II begins
1956
Anglo-French invasion of Egypt after Egypt’s decision to nationalise the Suez Canal Company, but the forces withdraw in the face of international pressure. John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger is produced in London
1966
England wins the football World Cup
1969
Concorde, the world’s first supersonic airliner developed by Britain and France, makes its maiden flight
1971
Decimalised currency replaces pounds, shillings and pence
1979
Conservative Margaret Thatcher becomes Britain’s first woman prime minister
1981
Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, marries Lady Diana Spencer at St Paul’s Cathedral
1988
The Social Democratic Party (founded 1981) merges with the Liberal Party to form the Social and Liberal Democratic Party, later known as the Liberal Democrats
1989
Tim Berners-Lee invents the World Wide Web, while working at CERN the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Switzerland. The first successful communication follows in 1990
1990
1994
The Channel Tunnel linking London and Paris is officially opened – the first land link between Britain and Europe since the last Ice Age
1997
Britain hands Hong Kong back to China, ending more than 150 years of British rule.
2000
2011
Prince William, second in line to the throne, marries Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey
2012
Britain celebrates the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and hosts the Olympics in London

© Images Wikipedia

For more on 20th century Britain, read Francesca Carnevali’s 20th Century Britain: Economic, Cultural and Social Change.

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