WhenHub - Virgin

Virgin

1968

1968
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A seventeen-year-old Richard Branson launches his first two businesses:


  • Student, a youth-culture magazine is published. The first issue is handed out on January 26.


  • After his girlfriend accidentally falls pregnant and finds it hard to find the right place to go to for help, Richard sets up the Student Advisory Centre - a helpline where young callers with problems could retain their anonymity and be referred to the right professionals.

1970

1970
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Richard Branson starts his Virgin Mail Order business selling cut price records by post.

1971

1971
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The first Virgin Record Shop opens at 24 Oxford Street, London. Behind the till, Richard Branson sells the first record – a Tangerine Dream album.

1972

1972
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Virgin opens Britain’s first residential recording studio - The Manor at Shipton-on-Cherwell near Oxford, UK - opens its doors to artists such as Sandy Denny, John Cale, Tangerine Dream, Gong, Faust & The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. 

1985

1985
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Virgin Holidays arrives. Not content with just getting people there in style, we want to keep them there in style. For around two weeks or so, anyway.

1986

1986
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Virgin Atlantic buys another Boeing 747 to launch its second route from Gatwick to Miami.

1987

1987
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  • The Virgin Airship and Balloon Company (later to become Virgin Balloon Flights) takes off. It becomes quite hard to keep Richard’s feet on the ground… 


  • Virgin Records America is founded, quickly followed by a subsidiary in Japan. 


  • Virgin Atlantic launches a route from Luton to Dublin which it flies until 1990. 


  • Richard Branson launches Mates condoms in the UK to promote safe sex to young adults as awareness of HIV and AIDS grows. Manufacturer Ansell buys the company a year later.


1990

1990
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  • Virgin Megastores arrives in Japan.


  • Virgin Atlantic flies to Los Angeles for the first time and opens the first Upper Class lounge at Gatwick.

1991

1991
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  • Virgin Publishing (later to become a new incarnation of Virgin Books) is formed. 


  • Richard Branson signs Janet Jackson to Virgin Records for $25 million for just one album (‘Janet’ - her fifth). This makes her the world's highest paid recording artist. 


  • Virgin Atlantic makes its inaugural Gatwick to Boston flight as well as launching its Heathrow to LA, New York (JFK) and Tokyo routes. 


  • Richard Branson buys The Roof Gardens. The glamorous club and restaurant in Kensington, London is now run by Virgin Limited Edition.

1992

1992
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  • A difficult day as Virgin Records is sold to Thorn EMI – saving Virgin Atlantic from the brink of collapse.  


  • Virgin Atlantic flies to Orlando for the first time.


  • The first Virgin Megastore opens in the United States. The Sunset Strip branch in LA stays open until 2008.


1993

1993
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  • Richard and the Secretary of State for Transport, John MacGregor, open Virgin Atlantic's luxurious Clubhouse at Heathrow on 22 February.


  • Virgin Radio hits the airwaves on 30 April with Virgin 1215 AM – the UK’s first national, commercial rock music station. Broadcast from the Virgin Megastore in Manchester, Richard's is the first voice to be heard when the station goes live at 12.15pm. The first record played is 'Born To Be Wild' by INXS.

1994

1994
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  • Virgin Retail becomes the UK’s largest music retailer with the acquisition of the Our Price chain.


  • Virgin Radio FM launches in London.


  • Virgin Vacations is established in the US to provide Virgin Atlantic customers with inclusive vacation packages to London and beyond.


  • Virgin Cola, Virgin Vodka (they go quite well together apparently) and a range of soft drinks are launched under the Virgin Drinks banner.


  • Virgin Games becomes Virgin Interactive.


  • On its tenth anniversary, Virgin Atlantic flies from Heathrow to Hong Kong and San Francisco for the first time.



1995

1995
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  • Virgin Direct Personal Financial Service (later to become Virgin Money) opens for business. The first product sold is a pioneering ‘Index Tracking’ personal equity plan – the best value PEP in the market.


  • Virgin Cinemas open up their big screens for the first time in the UK.


  • Virgin Limobike’s personal taxi motorbike service takes to the London roads.


  • The Virgin Atalntic Clubhouse at JFK open

1996

1996
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  • Virgin Express airline takes off, operating services from the UK to Brussels and on to European cities.


  • V2 Music is created, comprising the UK label, V2 Records and V2 Music Publishing. The Stereophonics and the Kings of Infinite Space are the first two bands signed to the label.


  • Virgin.net launches as an Internet service provider.


  • Virgin Trains is launched as the Virgin Rail Group is awarded the CrossCountry rail franchise, which operates InterCity/Express services across mainland Britain.


  • The iconic Virgin Megastores in Times Square opens its doors for the first time.


  • The first V Festival is held in the UK across two different locations in one weekend. It was Jarvis Cocker’s idea apparently.


  • Virgin Atlantic makes its inaugural flights from Heathrow to Washington DC and Johannesburg.


  • The Virgin Voucher is launched.


  • Virgin Brides opens its doors... and Richard shaves his beard off, but his wife doesn't like it so he grows it back.

1997

1997
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  • Virgin Trains is awarded the 15 year franchise for the InterCity West Coast, with the promise to introduce 40 high-speed tilting trains and reduce journey times considerably.


  • Virgin Radio is acquired by Chris Evans and Ginger Productions.


  • Virgin Direct (later to become Virgin Money) unveils the Virgin One Account mortgage.


  • The V2 Benelux record label is founded.


  • Virgin Books publishes the first edition of Richard Branson’s autobiography ‘Losing My Virginity’.


  • The Virgin Cosmetics Company launches with its first four flagship Virgin Vie stores in London, Bromley, Sheffield and Thurrock.

1998

1998
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Virgin Atlantic heads to the Caribbean and launches its Gatwick to Barbados, St Lucia and Antigua routes.




1999

1999
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  • Virgin Mobile launches Virgin’s first consumer telecommunications venture.


  • Virgin Cinemas is sold for £215m to UGC of France. A Japan chain remains operating.


  • Virgin Active launches the first of its health and lifestyle centres in Preston, Leeds and Stockley Park.


  • The Virgin Vie stores rebrand as Virgin Cosmetics stores.


  • Digital station Radio Free Virgin begins broadcasting over the Internet.


  • Virgin Atlantic flies from Heathrow to Shanghai and Cape Town for the first time.


  • Richard Branson is knighted.


  • Ulusaba, a private game reserve near the Kruger National Park, South Africa, is acquired by Virgin Hotels (later to become Virgin Limited Edition).

2000

2000
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  • Virgin Atlantic completes a £600 million deal with Singapore Airlines and also launches new routes to Las Vegas and Delhi.


  • Virginmoney.com, a financial services supermarket, is launched


  • Virgin Travelstore, an impartial travel agency, opens.


  • V.Shop, a new retail concept replacing the Our Price brand, begins trading.


  • Virgin Blue, an independent airline in Australia (which goes on to be the fastest-growing company in Virgin’s history) takes flight.


  • Virgin Student, a student community website and marketing agency, is launched.


  • Virgin Cars begins retailing online.


  • Virgin Energy begins selling gas and electricity to UK homes


  • Virgin Mobile Australia launches.


  • Virgin Wines is uncorked - raise your glasses

2001

2001
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  • Virgin Active launches in South Africa, taking over the ailing Health and Racquet Club at Nelson Mandela’s request.


  • Virgin Trains unveils its first 140 mph tilting Pendolino train.


  • Virgin sells its shareholding of the Virgin One business to the Royal Bank of Scotland while Virgin Direct merges with virginmoney.com to become Virgin Money. Different name, same focus on offering great value. 


  • Virgin Ware steps into the underwear market in the UK


  • Virgin Mobile makes its debut in Northern Ireland.


  • Virgin Atlantic launches its Heathrow to Lagos route.


  • Virgin Megastore welcomes its first Middle East customers while the Lagardere Group buys the French chain of shops


  • Virgin Experience (later to become Virgin Experience Days) launches, giving people to the chance to try their hand at everything from driving a Porsche through to scuba diving. And about a zillion things in between.

2002

2002
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  • Virgin Money introduces the Virgin Credit Card in the UK.


  • Virgin Mobile arrives in the USA.


  • Virgin Megastores launches in Australia.


  • The Spanish branch of Virgin Interactive becomes Virgin Play.


  • The curtain comes down on Virgin Cinemas in Japan.


  • The Virgin Vie Spa Treatment Rooms (later known as Virgin Spa) open for business in Cape Town, South Africa. 


  • Virgin Ware opens its flagship store and flashes its knickers to shoppers off of Carnaby Street in London. 


  • Virgin Bikes begins trading as part of the Virgin Cars group.


  • Virgin Books publishes Richard Branson’s second book ‘Screw It Let’s Do It’.


  • Virgin Radio International goes live in Thailand with Virgin Hitz.

2003

2003
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  • Virgin Credit Card launches in Australia.


  • Virgin Atlantic introduces the Upper Class Suite with fully flat beds and launches its Gatwick to Port Harcourt, Grenada and Tobago routes.


  • Virgin Cars starts up its multi-brand car retail showroom in Salford, England.


  • Virgin Interactive becomes Avalon Interactive.


  • Virgin Hotels sell the Heaven nightclub.  


  • Virgin Pulse (later to become Virgin Electronics) launches in the US.


  • V.Shops merges with Virgin Megastores, rebranding as Virgin Megastores Xpress.

2004

2004
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  • Virgin Digital is created to offer downloads and a subscription music service in the US.


  • The Virgin Blue group’s Pacific Blue takes its first flight between Christchurch and Brisbane.


  • Virgin Atlantic launches the Hong Kong to Sydney route route. 


  • Virgin Active launches its first clubs in Italy.


  • A new incarnation of Virgin Games is born with Virgin Casino and Virgin Poker available online in the UK.


  • Virgin Galactic – the first commercial space tourism company – is launched. 


  • Virgin Unite, Virgin’s non-profit foundation, is established. 

2005

2005
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  • Virgin Mobile launches in Canada.


  • Virgin Nigeria begins flying.


  • Virgin Digital, an online music store, launches in the UK.


  • The Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer successfully breaks round the world record.


  • Virgin Megastores launches a new music lifestyle store in Hollywood.


  • Virgin Cars ceases trading.


  • Virgin Games’ virtual Virgin Bingo launches.


  • Virgin Active expands into Spain and Portugal.


  • Virgin Electronics and Virgin Ware close their doors.


  • The Virgin Cosmetics Company begin their direct selling business in South Africa.


  • The Virgin Blue group’s Polynesian Blue launches its first flight from Auckland to Sydney.


  • Virgin Atlantic makes its inaugural Heathrow to Mumbai and Gatwick to Cuba and the Bahamas flights. 


  • Richard Branson’s Moroccan property Kasbah Tamadot opens as part of the Virgin Limited Edition portfolio.



2006

2006
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  • Virgin Mobile UK and Virgin.net merges with NTL:Telewest to create Virgin Media.


  • Virgin Mobile launches in China, France and South Africa.


  • Virgin Money launches in South Africa.


  • Virgin HealthMiles gets going in the US.


  • Virgin Comics is founded in India along with Virgin Animation – set to produce films for the comic books.


  • V Festival goes global and plays out across the US and Canada as Virgin Mobile’s Virgin Festival. 


  • Virgin Books and Music stores begin trading in Germany.


  • Virgin Radio International goes live in Delhi with Fever 104.


  • Virgin Digital closes in the US.


  • V2 North America is sold to Sheridan Square Entertainment.


  • Virgin Cosmetics rebrands as Virgin Vie At Home.


  • Virgin Express becomes Brussels Airlines.


  • Virgin Atlantic opens its new Clubhouse at Heathrow. Amongst the many unique features of the flagship lounge are a cocktail bar, a hair salon, a Cowshed spa, a brasserie and a games room.


2007

2007
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  • Virgin Media becomes the UK’s first ‘quadplay’ company - offering TV, broadband, phone and mobile services. 


  • The Flextech television company becomes Virgin Media Television. 


  • The first Australian V Festival is held in Sydney and the Gold Coast. 


  • Virgin America makes its inaugural flight from New York to San Francisco.


  • Virgin Brides takes its last orders and shuts up its Manchester shop 


  • Virgin Digital pulls down its virtual shutters in the UK.


  • Radio Free Virgin stops playing. 


  • Virgin Health Bank is announced


  • V2 Music Group is sold to Universal while a management buyout takes V2 Benelux. 


  • Virgin Media Television’s Virgin1 begins broadcasting to digital TV customers in the UK. 


  • Virgin takes a small stake in Tony Fernandes’ budget Air Asia X airline


  • Virgin Radio International launches in Italy as well and also brings Fever 104 FM to Mumbai and Bangalore.


  • Virgin Mobile Australia launches its broadband service.


  • Al Gore joins Richard Branson and launches the Virgin Earth Challenge – to find a commercially viable design which results in the net removal of anthropogenic, atmospheric greenhouse gases so as to contribute materially to the stability of the Earth's climate system.


  • Virgin Unite holds its first annual gala fundraiser, Rock The Kasbah, at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in LA. Richard Branson arrives on horseback in formal Moroccan wear to help raise money to build schools in the Atlas Mountains, Morocco.


  • After a management buyout in the UK and Ireland, Virgin Megastores become Zavvi and by November the original Oxford Street store is no more. 

2008

2008
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  • Virgin Galactic unveils White Knight Two - VMS Eve - a carrier aircraft used to launch the spacecraft.


  • Virgin Active opens its first club in Australia.


  • Virgin Charter launches an online matchmaking service between people and jets in the US.


  • Virgin Mobile launches in India - you might have seen Richard dropping 220ft from the Hilton at the launch.


  • Virgin Books publishes Richard Branson’s third book ‘Business Stripped Bare’.


  • The Times Of India buys Virgin Radio and it becomes Absolute Radio in the UK.


  • Virgin Radio International rolls out stations in France, Toronto, Dubai and Turkey while launching Fever 104 FM in Kolkata.


  • Virgin Money US launches as a peer-to-peer loans and loan servicing company.


  • Virgin Atlantic becomes the first airline to fly a Boeing 747 using biofuel.


  • Virgin Holidays teams up with Hip Hotels to offer customers something a little bit more, well, hip


  • Virgin Holidays acquires Travel City Direct in the UK.


  • After a management buyout, Virgin Comics becomes Liquid Comics. 


2009

2009
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  • Virgin America becomes the first airline to offer Wi-Fi access on every flight.


  • The Virgin Blue group reaches across the Pacific with V Australia flying from Sydney and Brisbane all the way to LA. You can now fly around the world with Virgin.


  • Virgin Atlantic celebrates its 25th anniversary with “Still Red Hot”, an international TV ad campaign that includes the 80s musical classic “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.


  • Virgin Holidays opens the v-room at Gatwick Airport – the first ever airport lounge dedicated entirely to people going on holiday whatever class they’re flying.


  • Virgin Vie At Home becomes Vie At Home and Virgin Spa ceases operation in South Africa.


  • Virgin Health Bank commissions, designs and builds the first cord blood stem cell processing and storage facility in Qatar.


  • Virgin Charter closes its virtual doors.


  • Virgin Active Italy opens its first premium ‘Classic’ club in Corso Como, Milan after a 9 month long refurbishment of the premises. 


  • The US Virgin Festival becomes Virgin Mobile’s FreeFest – free of charge to those who donate to its ReGeneration charity tackling youth homelessness. 


  • Virgin Megastore ceases to operate in the US and Japan. The San Francisco store closes in April, followed by the Times Square branch in May.


  • Virgin Galactic unveils the world's first commercial manned spaceship, Virgin SpaceShip Enterprise.


  • Virgin Radio International rolls out stations in Vancouver, Montreal and Jordan.


  • Virgin Digital Help, an expert service to help people with their computers, gadgets and technical stuff, launches in the UK. 


  • Virgin Books becomes an independent imprint under the Random House Group’s Ebury Publishing.


  • Virgin Nigeria rebrands as Nigerian Eagle Airlines.


  • Spain’s Virgin Play closes down.


  • Virgin sponsors the Brawn Grand Prix team and driver Jenson Button wins the Formula 1 championship. We couldn’t have planned that.

2010

2010
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  • Virgin Money sponsors the Virgin London Marathon and launches Virgin Money Giving. Richard Branson runs the marathon in 5 hours – wearing a pair of butterfly wings. 


  • Virgin Money US withdraws from the market. 


  • Virgin Digital Help starts offering the US public technical support for all of their digital problems. 


  • Virgin Books publishes Richard Branson’s fourth book ‘Reach For The Skies’.


  • Virgin Red Room – a cross-platform music show – launches across various channels, including online, mobile, Facebook and Twitter. Stars from Jarvis Cocker to Justin Bieber take part.


  • Formula One racing team, Virgin Racing, debuts with Timo Glock and Lucas Di Grassi. 


  • Virgin Gaming – an online gaming service offering players cash, points and prizes playing in the comfort of their home – kicks off in the US. 


  • Virgin Produced – a film and television development, packaging and production company based in LA – makes its debut with ‘Limitless’


  • Virgin Hotels launches.


  • Virgin Wines expands to the US.


  • Virgin Megastores in Australia cease to operate.


  • Virgin Radio International launches a Calgary station.


  • Sky buys Virgin Media Television and Virgin1 is rebranded as Channel One.


  • Virgin reveals Project, a digital magazine created exclusively for Apple iPad. 


  • Virgin Galactic takes its first test flight.



2011

2011
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  • Virgin Blue, V Australia, Pacific Blue and Polynesian Blue rebrand to become Virgin Australia. 


  • Richard Branson dives in to the River Thames as Virgin Active sponsors the London Triathlon and takes over the Esporta chain in the UK.


  • Virgin Wines pop their cork across Australia.


  • Virgin Mobile US launches its 24/7 music streaming service – Virgin Mobile Live


  • Virgin Radio International launches an Edmonton station.


  • The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship opens in Jamaica. 


  • Virgin launches Virgin Oceanic, a deep sea exploration submarine. 


  • Virgin Galactic dedicates and names its new home, the Galactic Gateway to Space at Spaceport America, the world's first purpose built commercial spaceport. Richard and his kids abseil down the side of the building, naturally.


  • Virgin Books publishes Richard Branson’s fifth book ‘Screw Business As Usual’.


  • Virgin Media introduces TiVo to the UK TV watching public and begins roll out of its 100Mb broadband service.


  • Fire breaks out on Necker Island and the main house is burnt down. Guest Kate Winslet helps saves Richard’s mother from the fire.


  • Fire breaks out on Necker Island and the main house is burnt down. Guest Kate Winslet helps saves Richard’s mother from the fire.


  • Richard’s daughter Holly marries fiancé Freddie Andrews on Necker Island where the main house once stood. The ceremony also marks the beginning of the rebuild project.


  • Virgin Atlantic announces the development of a world-first low carbon aviation fuel with just half the carbon footprint of the standard fossil fuel alternative.


  • Virgin Galactic signs a deal with NASA to undertake research missions on SpaceShipTwo and selects former USAF test pilot Keith Colmer as the first astronaut pilot to join the flight team.


  • Virgin Hotels announces that its property venture has purchased the Old Dearborn Bank Building in downtown Chicago in an all-cash transaction.


  • International airlines V Australia and Pacific Blue are relaunched under the Virgin Australia brand.


  • Virgin Money UK agrees to buy Northern Rock from Her Majesty’s Treasury.


2012

2012
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  • Virgin Money UK completes its acquisition of Northern Rock... and announces its deal to sponsor Newcastle United Football Club for the next two seasons. The first banking store in Guildford opens, replacing the old Northern Rock branch, with plans in place to transform the entire network of Northern Rock branches to Virgin Money Stores.


  • Virgin America launches flight services to Palm Springs, Portland and Philadelphia. The company is also voted the world’s best airline in the prestigious Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards and declared ‘Best US Airline’ in the Condé Nast Traveler’s 2012 Readers’ Choice Awards for the fifth year in a row.


  • Virgin Atlantic’s brand new Clubhouse opens at JFK International Airport in typical Virgin style – with a big party! A new Clubhouse at Newark Liberty Airport follows.


  • Assura Medical, one of the fastest growing independent providers of NHS services in the UK, officially changes its name to Virgin Care.


  • The Virgin Racing team relinquish their Virgin branding to become the Marussia F1 Team.


  • Virgin Australia begin flying their rebranded aircraft to New Zealand, they open their first lounge on the Gold Coast and order 23 new fuel-efficient planes – the first ever in Australia.


  • Virgin Mobile makes it way to Chile and Poland.


  • Virgin Produced releases the first ever film shot and edited on board commercial flights: Departure Date - an airborne romance and is set on board Virgin flights from Los Angeles to London, Dallas, Fort Worth and Sydney, Australia.


  • Virgin Atlantic becomes the first British airline to provide passengers with a service to make and receive phone calls in the air at 35,000ft.


  • Virgin Pure launches with their range of counter-top purified water solutions.


  • Virgin Media launches the very first Wi-Fi network on the London Underground. BBC journalist Rory Cellan-Jones sends the first tweet: "Historic first tweet from deep under London using @TFLofficial @virginmedia new tube wifi service - testing, testing."


  • Virgin Books publishes Richard’s sixth book - Like A Virgin: Secrets They Won't Teach You at Business School.


  • Richard attempts to beat the world record time for kitesurfing the English Channel. Technical problems mean that he has to abandon the kitesurf, but his son, Sam, steams on ahead to break the record himself – shaving 12 minutes off with a time of two hours and 18 minutes. Never one to give up, Richard jumps back in the water the following morning, managing to become the oldest person to achieve the feat.


  • Virgin Atlantic launches its inaugural flights to Vancouver and Cancun.


  • Virgin Galactic reveals its plans for LauncherOne, a revolutionary satellite launch vehicle, at the Farnborough Airshow in the UK, marking an historic moment for satellite research.


  • Virgin Mobile USA opens its first flagship retail store in Chicago.


  • The Rolling Stones celebrate their 50th anniversary with their long awaited return to the stage. The live shows mark the launch of a new venture in global touring, Virgin Live, which sees the coming together of Virgin with the Dainty Group.


  • The Department for Transport in the UK announces that following a bidding competition, Virgin Rail Group will not be operating the new Intercity West Coast franchise which is due to start on December 9th. Through the efforts of Virgin Trains and their supporters - including some celebrity fans – an epetition with 174,394 signatures is put to the government to reconsider the decision to award the franchise to FirstGroup. Court proceedings soon commence and on October 3rd the Secretary of State for Transport announces that the franchise competition has been cancelled due to major flaws in the bidding process. On December 6th it is announced that Virgin Trains will remain the West Coast Mainline operator for the next two years.


  • On December 11th, Virgin Atlantic announces that Delta Air Lines has purchased Singapore Airlines' 49% stake in the company - heralding a new joint venture and an era of expansion.


  • Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo successfully completed its 23rd glide flight, ensuring preparations for the world’s first commercial spaceline’s inaugural flight ended the year on a high.

1973

1973
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The Virgin Records label and Virgin Music Publishing launches in the UK with the release of Gong's 'Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1', Faust's 'The Faust Tapes', Elkie Brooks' 'Manor Live' and Mike Oldfield’s 'Tubular Bells' - one of the biggest selling albums of the decade and the soundtrack to ‘The Exorcist’.

1977

1977
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Virgin signs the Sex Pistols. We go where all other major record labels fear to tread - like belting out ‘God Save the Queen’ on Silver Jubilee day – opposite the Houses of Parliament.

1978

1978
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  • Richard Branson buys Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands for $180,000 – mainly to impress a girl called Joan Templeman. It works and she marries him.


  • Necker is now part of the Virgin Limited Edition portfolio.


  • Virgin buys The Venue - a music club at 160-62 Victoria Street in London, modelled on New York's The Bottom Line. The first gig, on 1 November, features Graham Parker and the Rumour.


  • The Venue later plays host to such acts as Iggy Pop, Ramones, The Smiths, Depeche Mode and Devo until it closes in August 1984.

1979

1979
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Virgin Films

Virgin Films is launched to invest in and distribute Julian Temple's Sex Pistols mockumentary 'The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle'.

The company also produces 'The Space Movie' at the request of NASA to celebrate the tenth anniversay of the Apollo moon landing. The soundtrack is by Mike Oldfield.

Virgin Films goes on to produce such Eighties gems as 'Absolute Beginners', 'Electric Dreams' and '1984'.

Today we have Virgin Produced.


Virgin Megastore

The first Virgin Megastore opens at 14-16 Oxford Street in London.

This hallowed turf remains Virgin until 2007.


Virgin Books

Virgin Books is launched to publish music titles - such as The Sid Vicious Family Album – to compliment the record label.

Virgin Books is now part of The Random House Group in the UK.