It’s 4 May 1990 and we’re standing on the central reservation of Lurgan High Street admiring a very typical British townscape. Although some of the shop names aren’t instantly familiar, you’ll see TSB and Woolworth’s standing proud. But the hustle and bustle depicted in this image is very familiar for anyone who travelled up this way (well, at least until the Coronavirus (COVID-19) cleared out the streets in March 2020).
If the physical landscape doesn’t look a million miles different to how it does now, the political and cultural landscape certainly do. For many voters in the UK, it’s the day after the Local Elections where all 32 London boroughs, all 36 metropolitan boroughs, 116 out of 296 English districts and all 12 Scottish regions had chosen who the next Councillors were going to be. Reflecting the deep unpopularity of the Conservative Party in the dying days of the Thatcher Government, a mere 32% of voters had gone for the blue party, while a thumping 44% choose Neil Kinnock’s Labour Party… There are still more Conservative Councillors across the country than Labour ones, but it’s close…
In the music charts, Madonna’s Vogue is in the top spot, but Opposites Attract by Paula Abdul and Black Velvet by Alannah Miles are chasing hard in the all-female Top 3. Other than the fading Step On by the Happy Mondays, it’s a quite unmemorable chart, reflecting the crossover in tastes as we glide from the neon-bright 1980s to the grungier 1990s.
It’s also the week that we’re starting to see houses sport ‘squarials’ on their roofs as the newly-formed digital satellite network British Satellite Broadcasting begins to ramp up its services. It’s already months late and, as Sky Broadcasting’s been on the scene since late-1988, it’s not looking good for the technical-superior official UK broadcaster. We know what happened next – Sky and BSB merged to become BSkyB and all of those homes with squarials and technically-superior D-MAC boxes would eventually be forced to replace them with Sky’s analogue set-up. Shame…
So, tell us about the cars
It’s an interesting mix – and, being Northern Ireland, the ‘dateless’ registration plates make it difficult to place some of the cars precisely. But we’re not going to let that stop us trying. Driving away from us on the left, we have a Triumph Acclaim HL jockeying for position with a Bedford Astravan (the fastest vehicle in the world) behind a nice Fiat Uno. This part of the world looks like Austin Montego country, with two parked kerbside on the left and rather fetching grey example up ahead with the red reflector panel between the rear lights.
Ahead of the Fiat is a rather fetching Vauxhall Nova saloon, while who could miss the Renault 4 Fourgonnette. Up at the top, having nabbed a desirable parking space in the middle, is what looks like a Metro ARX or, possibly, Studio 2 special edition. Lovely stuff in what looks like rather a bad traffic day in Lurgan.
Coming towards us are some joyous sights, too. Japanese car fans will appreciate the short-lived (in the UK) front-wheel-drive U11-generation Nissan Bluebird (a car who’s central locking system would unlock, but not lock, the car) followed by a second-generation Mitsubishi Colt (Mirage in Japan), which already looks to be succumbing to rust. Behind these are a lovely Ford Escort XR3i and Vauxhall Nova GTE in what could be some soft of impromptu hot hatch showdown. Further back – and in the same spirit – is a Honda CR-X, which looks petite on the road, even then.
Finally, the last word should go to the British Army Land Rover right at the back. If anything, it should serve to remind us how far we’ve come since the days of The Troubles, and long may our lasting peace remain…
For fun, I’ve added this image sourced from Wikipedia of the same place from 1960 to show you how far things changed in the intervening years. Is this a larger jump to 1990 than that shot is today? I’d say so!
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