Although 2011 was the official tenth anniversary of the creation of the site you know and love today, it was something of a phoney beginning really. I created www.austin-rover.co.uk as a repository for my scribblings on the subject and as a way of getting the wider world to fact-check what I’d done. I always believed that the best way of getting your work out there and seen by the right people was to get it published on the Internet – and how right I was soon proved to be.
Although my chosen career back then was IT and systems management, my web designing skills were pretty much non-existent. So when it came to making a website, I knew how to register my domain, and get the work up there, but struggled in MS Frontpage to come up with something even half-way convincing looking. As it happens, it wasn’t convincing looking at all. But it did get noticed. And in those opening few months of the site, I became firm friends with a number of other BL (and general) car nutters – many of whom I am still in constant touch with today.
An important person in the development of this website is Declan Berridge. I still remember receiving an email from him late in 2001, asking whether I’d mind considering looking at a website design he’d been working on for me. Slightly confused, I said of course I wouldn’t mind – and what was he thinking of. I still remember viewing his Pipex pages – and seeing a completely new Austin-Rover, complete with framed menus, consistent picture sizes, and lovely looking fonts and logical layouts.
Was I impressed? What do you think? I was bowled over.
And since then, the site continued to grow. Originally organically (aided once I’d bought a copy of Dreamweaver – as I am a visual writer and couldn’t get on with working in plain text), but since the onset and roll-out of WordPress later, far more quickly, as the site evolved into more of a magazine format (with the original reference material safely here for posterity). Without Declan’s far-reaching 2001-’02 redesign, it’s fair to say this site wouldn’t be where it is today.
So, please – take a moment to look back at the 2002 masterpiece on the Wayback machine. In many ways, the current incarnation has yet to improve on it in terms of menu functionality! Thanks again, Declan…