Memories : Blackpool, 1987

Blackpool 1987

It’s Tuesday 8 September 1987 and it’s the first day of the new academic year at the Blackpool & Fylde College of Further Education at Norcross, near Bispham in Lancashire. We’re looking down at one of the many car parks at this large college, and we’re presented with an interesting cross section of the lecturers’ and students’ cars randomly parked. It’s a crisp autumn day, and the campus is heaving with optimistic students looking forward to the exciting new term…

Some of them might be gutted to be to be missing out on the lunchtime broadcast of Neighbours, which has yet to make the afternoon schedule on BBC1. The good news is that, if they wait until 7.00pm, they’ll be treated to the first episode in series five of the excellent sitcom No Place Like Home (below), which has been filling this slot in the schedule on and off since 1983. Starring William Gaunt (from The Champions) and Patricia Garwood, tonight’s episode has their characters Arthur and Beryl Crabtree being pulled into their neighbours’ marriage problems – with typically hilarious results.

No doubt, plenty of the students tune in to The Mike Smith Breakfast Show on BBC Radio1 on the way in this morning, although the lazier ones will end up listening to Simon Bates from 9.30. Wait until 11.00am, and the delightfully depressing Our Tune will besiege your ears, usually punctuated by Bates crooning, ‘…and then she died.’

It’s better news for the drive home tonight – the most played songs on Radio1 are, Never Gonna Give You Up, by Rick Astley, riding high at number one in the Top 40, closely followed by Wipeout by The Fat Boys and The Beach Boys, Where The Streets Have No Name, by U2 and Heart and Soul by T’Pau, lead by the lovely Carol Decker. Wonderful…

BBC - No Place Like Home

So, tell us about the cars

This is a great snapshot into what students were driving in the late-1980s. In among the Ford Fiestas, Austin Metros and Vauxhall Chevettes were some interesting chariots, suitably revved up by their enthusiastic drivers. The Vauxhall Astra closest to the camera, fitted with a quartet to spotlights was pretty typical, but the Morris Marina Estate (middle row) and Renault 18 shows that some of them had a sensible head (or at least their parents did).

We suspect the Ford Granada Mk2 and MG Metro 1300 to the left of the picture are probably lecturers’ cars, as is the Saab 900 to the right of the picture. Look closely and you’ll find an Austin Ambassador, a Skoda Estelle 105 and a Hyundai Pony in among the mix – but all are probably overshadowed by the fabulous fabric-topped Fiat Panda. There’s a veritable feast of what we called bangers back then, but would now be championed as wonderful survivors… and rightly so.

The car I travelled into college on that day is in the car park, but you’ll have to guess what that was. I would tell you, but I’m off to watch repeats of No Place Like Home on Forces TV, before having Pot Noodles and Ravioli on toast for my tea!

If you enjoyed this, let us know in the comments and, if you have any pictures you’d like featuring, drop me a line via any of the links below.

Keith Adams


  1. Fantastic, the year I passed my test and got into cars. Over the far side in the long row, between the blue and silver cars, could that be a red Talbot Tagora, could it???

  2. Oh’ my gosh! I absolutely love the Tagora! It was so, so – um, what’s the word – bad! That’s it – bad. And I love cars that were bad. According to How Many is Left – the last recorded one was 5 years ago. Sad. I would love one now. I’ve read loads about them – they were so quick! There was a metallic blue one in Swindon up until about 10 years ago. Georgious – but so bad! I’m not sure these pills are working you know. Nurse…..nurse….

    • I’ve got a soft spot for them too, despite having never laid eyes on one. I was a car-daft wee lad when they came out, and my dad was a regular customer of the local Peugeot Talbot dealer for years, but I had never even heard of the Tagora until a few years ago. Such an obscure, bizarre vehicle. I love it!

  3. I was one of a brave group of under 21s who never watched Neighbours in the late eighties and saw it as badly made, badly acted rubbish. Not a popular opinion then, but a truthful one, and I was surprised to find he soap is still shown on Channel 5, although I haven’t heard anyone mention it since the nineties.

    • At least Neighbours had some bright young things filling up the cast.

      Crossroads had been getting similar audiences a decade earlier, but seemed to be full of frumpy middle aged people by comparison.

      By late 1992 I had got bored with Neighbours, mostly because I was too busy with my GCSEs, and also because most of the golden age characters had left by that point.

      Supposedly it’s a joke in Australia that the show would have been axed years ago if it wasn’t for it being a profitable export.

      • Neighbours was probably biggest in the 1988-92 period, when at times it had 18 million viewers, and made a megastar out of Kylie Minogue. Then the penny dropped that it was just a cheap imported soap opera with poor acting, and once the big names left, audience figures tumbled. It still survives on Channel 5, playing to a small, but loyal audience.

  4. Anyone guess what the white car is behind the cream chevette slap back in the middle row? Can’t really tell if it’s a Peugeot 505 or a BMW?

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