The Way We Were
Carlisle, July 1986
Pity the poor chap in the dark-coloured Ford Escort. He looks like he’s rushing to catch the 16:41 to London Euston – but he’s left it too late to grab one of the spaces outside Carlisle’s Grade II-listed railway station.
If he made it with enough time to slot his MkII – which we reckon is an RS2000, on account of its pronounced rubber spoiler and black rear panel – into a space, we suppose he’d be able to rush through to platform three, hop on to British Rail’s finest and unfurl a copy of that morning’s News & Star for the long journey ahead. If he didn’t, it’d be a long wait, perhaps over a pint of Jennings Bitter at the Cumbrian Hotel next door.
But it’s a fascinating collection of cars that’s preventing our Escort-driving pal from parking up. Immediately in front of him there’s a Vauxhall Cavalier MkII, at the time the UK’s fifth best-selling car (its fierce rival, Ford’s Sierra, was number three on the list). It looks a little vulnerable sitting directly beneath the scaffolding cloaking much of the Victorian station’s exterior; Renofors, the firm carrying out the operations, appears to have ceased operating in the UK in the early Noughties, but is still a thriving business in its native France.
Parked alongside the Cavalier are an early Rover SD1, a Mercedes-Benz 190E and a Hillman Imp. The latter looks like a MkIII Super, with an extended rear numberplate surround holding additional reversing lights.
Competing with the Escort for parking spaces in front of the station entrance are a Renault 25, introduced two years earlier to replace the 20 and 30, and a red hatchback that might be a Peugeot 205. In front of it there’s a Toyota Carina II, a Ford Capri MkIII, a post-facelift Renault 12 (the large rear lights are the clue) and another Escort – a Sunburst Red MkIII.
The row behind, obscured by the railings of the underground passenger toilets, is a little trickier to discern, but seems to be dominated by vehicles that weren’t exactly the motoring mainstream in the mid-1980s. There’s a Citroën 2CV, at that time carving a loyal UK following on account of its long line of special edition models, and an early Daihatsu Fourtrak, perhaps driven into town by a farmer from the nearby Cumbria countryside. There’s also a distinctive yellow hatchback at the front – we reckon it’s a Fiat 127.
Heading towards the hotel – or perhaps just badly parked – is a tiredlooking Leyland Princess, whose faded paintwork and frilly nearside rear wheelarch are clear even from this distance. Outside the hotel’s frontage – and looking in rather better condition – is a K10-generation Nissan Micra, a Ford Fiesta MkI and a Triumph Dolomite. There’s also a tidy-looking Golf MkII parked up by the alleyway heading off between the station and the hotel.
There’s another Golf MkII – a midrange CL, which disappeared from the DVLA’s records in 2003 – heading away from the station, followed by a Vauxhall Viva HC which, judging by the corrosion just above its offside headlight, has seen better days. There’s also a Datsun Stanza waiting to creep out of the station car park – a fairly common sight in the mid-1980s, but just 17 survivors remain today.
The Austin FX4 just visible to the very right of this shot would’ve been the first of a long line of black cabs stretching all the way down to the city’s English Damside. Perhaps if our hurried commuter friend in his Escort RS2000 had hailed one of those rather than looking for a space, he’d have stood a better chance of catching that train…
DAVID SIMISTER Having begun his career on local newspapers in North Wales, David has been with CCW since 2013, and is still honing his tea-making skills.