It’s September 1982 and Sainsbury’s shoppers were being treated to a shiny new place to leave their cars in. This was the recently-opened parking area located in the interior of a re-purposed railway shed in the former Green Park Station in Bath. The train shed and station building were restored in 1982 as part of Sainsbury’s development of a new supermarket on an adjacent site.
Although we were well into the 1980s by this time, the grit and grime of the 1970s still lingered on like an unloved season. The music charts at the time were an interesting mix of the upbeat and dystopian, but if you tuned into the Top 40 show on 19 September, you’d no doubt have been disappointed by the fact that Survivor’s Eye of The Tiger staggered on in the number one position for yet another week. The film it came from, Rocky III, had been a massive cinema hit – even today I remember watching it, and being slightly scared by how much foot stomping the audience was doing as Rocky Balboa did his best to hammer Clubber Lang on to the floor.
The Top 10 was about to change – The Jam’s Bitterest Pill (I’ve Ever Had to Swallow) was flying up the charts, while David Christie’s appalling Saddle Up was was climbing, too, riding on the Jam’s coat tails. Other big names blessing the charts were Duran Duran with Save a Prayer, ABC with All of My Heart and Dire Strait’s Private Investigations, which would go on to become the background tune to BT’s privatisation advertising a couple of years’ hence.
In the news, things weren’t good in the UK – unemployment topped out at 14% as Margaret Thatcher told us that if it wasn’t hurting, it wasn’t working. Meanwhile, the Government’s policy of privatisation of strategic industry was beginning to gain momentum as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nigel Lawson, announced that no industry should remain in state ownership unless there is an ‘overwhelming’ case. Within a few short years, British Telecom, British Gas and Jaguar had moved into the private sector, with many more to follow.
On TV, we were all still getting used to the arrival of new ITV regional stations, which had come into being in January 1982. ATV had been replaced by Central, with Southern and Westward being replaced by TVS and TSW. We still had three channels, BBC1, BBC2 and ITV – Channel 4 and S4C were on their way, but if you tuned in at the time, you’d have been greeted by a test card.
But what about the cars?
This was a good time for those who wanted the game to move on. September 1982 saw the arrival of the Audi 100, Citroën BX, Ford Sierra and Opel Corsa. In short, with the arrival of these cars, came the 1980s after a false start. In the car park, the fine burghers of Bath demonstrated great taste – the Vauxhall Astra 1.6 SR looked pretty good, and very new on its shiny Y-plate, while on the left of the picture the Renault 6 and 12 are sad reminders of a time when La Regie was one of the largest importers into the UK. Today, it’s a much smaller player here.
Other beauties include a Triumph Dolomite, near the Renaults, which demonstrated perfectly the rising tideline of black underseal that so many owners used to apply in order to keep terminal rust at bay. Next to it is a post-facelift Vauxhall Chevette with flush headlights and, just beyond that, are a Triumph Herald and Peugeot 504, which must have seemed terribly dated in the early 1980s. Nearest the camera are another Vauxhall Chevette, the inevitable Ford Cortina Estate, Morris Marina and Volvo 345. Finally, take a closer look, and you’ll find a Simca 1100, Peugeot 104, shovel-nosed Vauxhall Carlton Mk1, and way off in the distance a lovely, early Vauxhall Cavalier Coupe (Mk1) or Opel Manta to our European readers, resplendent with faux-Rostyle wheels and out-of-place tow bar.
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