With the recession of the early 1980s, Birmingham’s economy collapsed, resulting in unprecedented unemployment levels in the city and outbreaks of social unrest. In 1982, the city’s unemployment rate was approaching 20%, and in inner-city areas such as Aston, Handsworth, and Sparkbrook, it was twice that level. Birmingham also witnessed a new wave of migration during the 1980s, coming from communities without Commonwealth roots, such as Kosovo and Somalia.
In an unprecedented nationwide tornado outbreak on 23 November 1981, two tornadoes touched down within Birmingham’s city limits – in Erdington and Selly Oak – while six tornadoes struck West Midlands County.
These fascinating photos show life in Birmingham in the 1980s.