Memories : Sainsbury’s, Blackpool, 1984


It’s June 1984 and, on a warm, sunny day in Bispham, near Blackpool, shoppers have headed over to Red Bank Road for a quick top-up shop. Although we don’t know what day this shot was taken on, it’s a decent probability that it’s a weekday, given how relatively quiet Sainsbury’s is.

No doubt, some of the shoppers will have driven in, either listening to Radio 4 hissing and popping on Long Wave, Radio 2 crackling away on Medium Wave or perhaps Red Rose Radio on FM. For those listening to the news on Radio 4, the agenda will be dominated by the Miners’ Strike, which had been ongoing since March 1984. Margaret Thatcher and Arthur Scargill were pitched for a battle royal, which had yet to fully erupt on this warm summer day. The worst was to come.

For those tuned into Red Rose Radio or Radio 1, Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Two Tribes was all over the airwaves. On 10 June it went straight in at number one, knocking Wham!’s Wake Me Up (Before You Go Go) off the top position. Other Top 10 music on heavy rotation were Only When You Leave by Spandau Ballet, High Energy by Evelyn Thomas and my favourite, Let’s Hear it For The Boy, by Deniece Williams from the film Footloose. Remember Kevin Bacon before he became Kevin Bacon? Indeed…

Rushing around the shop to buy Rathbones bread, Holland’s meat and potato pies and tinned mushy peas, there was the school run to get back for then turn in to watch the new cartoon Danger Mouse on ITV. The previous night, it would have been a dose of Coronation Street (the most-watched programme on UK TV at the time), before settling down to the first episode of Crimewatch after the 9 O’Clock news on BBC1.

But what about the cars?

Ah, now that’s the good stuff. Us Blackpudlians were a canny lot. Back in 1984, we didn’t waste too much money on those flashy premium cars that everyone seemed so obsessed by down south. Your eye’s drawn to the 1982 Ford Escort 1.3L in bright yellow – the roads were full of them – which is hiding an Austin Allegro cheekily parked behind it. The Vauxhall Royale Coupe (Opel Monza to our overseas readers) is difficult to miss, and a wonderful thing to see with the BMW 5 Series being seriously overshadowed by it.

Look more closely though, and you’ll see that someone has a very new car in Sainsbury’s that day. Flanked by the Royale and a Morris Marina Series 2 is an Austin Montego. Given it had only been launched in April, this would have been quite a novelty to see in the car park. Perhaps not as much as the Polski-Fiat Polonez further back, near a disturbingly nicely-maintained (or at least very clean) BMC 1800 Landcrab.

Other lovelies to be spotted in the car park include an Alfa Romeo Alfasud, a Fiat Mirafiori and a Talbot Samba. If I’ve missed anything significant in this haven of 1980s loveliness, please do comment below – I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks to: Sainsbury Archive

Keith Adams


  1. You forgot to mention the Nissan Sunny B11 – resplendent in beige…..they were everywhere as well, popular L-cars as well alongside the smaller Micra and Cherry.

  2. Atlantic 252 didn’t open until 1989, so your main choices for pop music in Lancashire would have been Radio 1 or Red Rose Radio. although Red Rose had the advantage of having FM as well as medium wave, if you were lucky enough to have a car radio with FM. Then if you were a bit older, there was always Jimmy Young on Radio 2, who probably would have had Arthur Scargill on the phone in between the daily recipe and a Frank Sinatra record.
    Of interest, the yellow Escorts were all over my home town like a rash in the mid eighties. I can surmise it must have been one of Ford’s most popular colours, although the metallic paint on the Fiesta looks classier.

      • Cheers, also I bet the Escort in the car park had one of those Ford branded push button radios playing out of a single speaker, which was considered adequate for many people’s needs then.

        • I remember helping a friend fix up an A reg Sierra that only had a basic radio connected to a single speaker in a box fitted to the top of the dash. Even in 1983 this would have been a little lacking, I’m sure even the basic models in this category had 2 speakers in the doors or inside the dash.

          I can’t remember if my friend did anything to improve it, when he & his girlfriend split up she kept it.

  3. The 1800 Landcrab takes me back to 1977 when I owned one in Australia – and drove it from Derby in WA via Darwin, Alice Springs, Ayres Rock, Adelaide and Melbourne to Sydney. I had it shipped to New Zealand as a runabout, until selling it on my return to Oz to complete my travels Down Under. Knowing how long cars survive in NZ, I’d like to think it is still around.

  4. Sainsbury’s have uploaded a lot of their photo archive, mostly of store openings.

    Unfortunately the ones of my local branch in Stockport doesn’t have many pictures of the car park.

    By the mid 1980s yellow wasn’t a fashionable colour for cars.

    My Dad tended to listen to Radio 1, 2, 4 & Piccadilly Radio.depending on which what programme was the most of interest.

  5. What a wonderful article to cheer us up in the current coronavirus crisis… wish I could go back to those days. The yellow colour on Ford’s back then was called “Daytona yellow” My employer had a MKIII Cortina Estate in that. Great times

  6. On the left side we see a Ford Granada, maybe a Cortina/Taunus, but I think, it is a Granada.
    Next to it is a VW. I think, it is a 1302. The yellow car next to it could be a Vauxhall Cavalier Mk I, It has this black plastic cover on the c-pillar and this characteristic Vauxhall front section.
    Next to it is a Mini, I think. But there is this disturbing reflection. And what car is the blue estate directly behind the Vauxhall Coupe? It could be another Vauxhall, a Carlton or a Cavalier Mk II Estate.
    But what about that Montego? Is that really a Montego? I don’t think so. Look at the black grille, the black bumpers and the indicator. I think, it is a Mazda 323 (BD).

  7. A couple of years earlier, and the red Landcrab could have been ours. At the time we spent a few family holidays in this area – using the freshly repainted 1800 S – still featuring damask red paint at the time.

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