Margaret Thatcher: From Grantham to Downing Street

13 October 1925 - Margaret Hilda Roberts is born in the Lincolnshire town of Grantham.

October 1943 - Begins studying a four-year chemistry degree at Somerville College, Oxford University. She goes on to become president of the Oxford University Conservative Association.

31 January 1949 - Selected as the Conservative candidate in the Labour safe seat of Dartford after being rejected for a safe Conservative seat.

23 February 1950 - Stands unsuccessfully for the safe Labour seat of Dartford. She tries again the following year.

Margaret Roberts, 26, at her wedding Denis Thatcher
Margaret Roberts, 26, at her wedding Denis Thatcher Credit: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

February 1951 - Meets Denis Thatcher, a shrewd and highly successful industrialist some ten years her senior.

December 1951 - Marries Denis Thatcher.

August 1953 - Her twins, Mark and Carol, are born in the same year.

December 1953 - Thatcher qualifies as a barrister specialising in taxation.

8 October 1959 - Thatcher is elected as MP for Finchley - a seat she holds throughout her 20-years career as an MP.

Margaret Thatcher being kissed by her twin children Mark and Carol soon after being elected MP for Finchley
Margaret Thatcher being kissed by her twin children Mark and Carol soon after being elected MP for Finchley Credit: Barratts/S&G Barratts/EMPICS Archive

October 1961 - Thatcher is promoted to the front bench as Parliamentary Undersecretary at the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance in Harold Macmillan's administration.

March 1966 - Edward Heath moves her into his shadow cabinet. At the time, he observed: "Once she's there, we'll never be able to get rid of her."

18 June 1970 - Conservatives win the general election. Thatcher becomes Secretary of State for Education and Science.

June 1971 - Thatcher cuts public funding for free milk for schoolchildren - earning her the nickname ‘Margaret Thatcher the milk snatcher’ .

Free milk being handed out to pupils at Woodhill Junior Mixed School in Woolwich
Free milk being handed out to pupils at Woodhill Junior Mixed School in Woolwich Credit: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

January 1972 - Unemployment passes 1 million and British troops kill 13 people in the ‘Bloody Sunday’ riots.

13 December 1973 - The three-day week is announced.

November 1974 - Thatcher decides to run for leader of the Conservative party.

11 February 1975 - Elected the first female leader of the Conservative Party on the second ballot.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher arriving at 10 Downing Street in London after winning the general election
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher arriving at 10 Downing Street in London after winning the general election Credit: PA/PA Wire

January 1976 - The nickname 'Iron Lady' is invented by the Russian defence ministry following a withering attack on the Soviet Union she made in a speech.

4 May 1979 - Margaret Thatcher is elected Prime Minister with a slim majority of 44 seats.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her husband Denis on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street following the 1979 general election.
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her husband Denis on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street following the 1979 general election. Credit: Michael Stephens/PA Archive/Press Association Images

1980 - Implements manifesto promise of the “right to buy” for council tenants, giving millions the opportunity to purchase their homes. She gives her famous “the lady is not for turning” speech at the Conservative party conference in October.

April-July 1981 - Riots erupt across the country starting with the infamous Brixton Riots.

5 April 1982 - Thatcher orders a Naval task force to sail for the Falklands starting a 74-day battle with Argentinian troops that claims the lives of 255 British servicemen and three Falkland Islanders.

9 June 1983 - Returned to power with a landslide majority

1984 - Stirs up massive trade union anger by banning union membership at GCHQ, the Government Communications Headquarters.

12 October 1984 - An IRA bomb goes off at the Grand Hotel in Brighton during the Conservative Party conference. Five are killed and thirty left injured but Thatcher is unharmed, declaring that the conference “will go on as usual”.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher giving a three-fingered salute outside 10 Downing Street as she begins her third successive term
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher giving a three-fingered salute outside 10 Downing Street as she begins her third successive term Credit: PA/PA Wire

11 June 1987 - Thatcher is re-elected for an historic third term with a slightly reduced majority.

1 April 1989 - The deeply unpopular poll tax is introduced in Scotland before the rest of the country.

27 November 1990 - John Major becomes party leader after Thatcher announces her decision not to contest the second ballot.

28 November 1990 - A tearful Margaret Thatcher leaves Downing Street for the last time as Prime Minister.“We leave the United Kingdom in a very much better state than when we came here 11 and a half years ago,” she says.

May 2004 - Attacks the Blair Government in a speech during a lavish dinner to mark the 25th anniversary of her accession to Downing Street.

13 October 2005 - Celebrates her 80th birthday with a dinner in a London Hotel, attended by 650 guests including the Queen.

Margaret Thatcher at the Churchill Museum Opening, Cabinet War Rooms, London in 2005
Margaret Thatcher at the Churchill Museum Opening, Cabinet War Rooms, London in 2005 Credit: Chris Young/PA Wire

February 2007 - Lady Thatcher becomes the first living former Prime Minister in history to have a statue of herself unveiled in the House of Commons. At the ceremony, she comments: "I might have preferred iron, but bronze will do."

13 October 2010 - Misses her 85th birthday party, hosted in Downing Street by David Cameron, because of poor health.

6 January 2012 - A biopic film, entitled 'The Iron Lady' and starring Meryl Streep, opens to mixed reviews.

8 April 2013 - Margaret Thatcher's death is announced following a stroke.

Read: Margaret Thatcher - as decisive with her policies as she was divisive with her people