It’s September 1983, and we’re at the Oystermouth Road car park in Swansea joining the shoppers as the Park and Ride for the city centre. The view is very typical of car parks across the land – with new and used cars rubbing shoulders with abandoned trolleys and stray litter, competing for space in one of many open pieces of land that masquerade as parking areas.
Wales’ second-largest city is beginning to see some green shoots of recovery, following the recession of the early-1980s and, although it’s not out of the woods yet, excellent links into the city are attracting new investment and manufacturing into the area. A good example of this is Dragon Computers in nearby Port Talbot, which has been set-up in 1982, assisted by government investment to build the ugly-looking Dragon 32 computer (below).
This Welsh take on the computer revolution in the UK joined with Sinclair, Acorn, Commodore, Oric, Amstrad and many, many more, to help us become the world’s leader in the production and take-up of computers in the home. Sadly, it would end up proving to be a short-lived boom – Port Talbot’s Dragon Data would subsequently go bust the following year, having already outlived such computers as the Grundy Newbrain, Tatung Einstein, Colour Genie, Mattel Aquarius and Jupiter Ace.
As for the car park, this scene in this photo, sent by Jason Williams, remains reasonably unchanged to this day. The curvaceous pedestrian bridge was removed in March 2020, though, and the high rise to the left of it has gone. The parking bays are somewhat neater and it’s all going to change soon, anyway, as development of Swansea’s Digital Arena continues.
So, tell us about the cars
Well… this is a nice selection of what kept Britain moving in the early 1980s. Starting from the bottom left, we have a Toyota Corolla, a two-door Austin Allegro Sport, Citroën CX Safari with after-market Hella spotlights, then a Morris 1300, a pair of Ford Escort Mk2 Populars and an almost brand-new Volvo 340 three-door. It’s easy to forget that in 1983, the small Volvo was about to enjoy a sales boom that would see this innocuous rear-wheel-drive hatch become a mainstay of the UK’s Top 10 bestselling car list well into the late-1980s.
Moving on, we have an Allegro Estate in Series 2 estate guise, a Ford Sierra in L trim (and probably the reps’ favourite 1.6), a Morris 1800 Mk3 and early Austin 1100. Behind the Sierra, we have a Vauxhall Cavalier Mk1 in GL trim, Hillman Avenger, Ford Escort Mk1 (in red), a Snapdragon Allegro Series 3 estate and Volkswagen 1500 behind that. There’s a Triumph Dolomite driver looking for a space behind that, and other nice-to-finds are the Vauxhall Astra Mk1, Austin Maxi and Mk2 Escort estate on the road behind…
As I say, very much a cross section of what we were all driving in the early 1980s.
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