THERE were many times during the 1980s when Bradford’s Drake Street car park was better suited to boats than cars, as this picture from October 31, 1981, humorously demonstrates.

Although the dinghy was supplied courtesy of an imaginative Telegraph & Argus photographer, the scene had more flavours of the ‘seaside’ than you would think.

It was common for seagulls to land on the lakes that formed on the car park following bouts of heavy rain. The day before this picture was taken, the paper reported, a mallard had been spotted happily swimming between parked cars. In light of this, Drake Street seems an appropriate name.

The rough, uneven ground, rather like a lunar landscape, left the car park vulnerable to umpteen pools forming - some of which could be quite deep. Car park users had to be very careful where they parked, or they could end up getting wet feet.

During prolonged wet weather, commuters had been known to set off for work especially early in an attempt to bag one of the drier positions on the car park - one that was unlikely to end up several inches underwater by the end of the day. Late arrivals missing out on the drier spots often trudged into their offices - including the T&A - with sodden feet. Some unlucky ones ended up with wet ankles too, after trying, and failing, to negotiate a mini lake several inches deep.

The T&A report, written by former features editor Mike Priestley, divulged that Bradford Council wanted to tackle the issue on that tract of land and iron out the flooding problems, but could not afford to tackle it on that particular year’s budget.

In the years to follow, matters were partially resolved with Bradford’s new Crown Court building and its smart paved piazza coming to occupy most of the space occupied by the car park, but what remains of it, at the back of the site towards Vicar Lane has been Tarmaced over and is now a bonafide car park with properly marked out parking bays. It is a far cry from how it used to be.

Every town and city has areas, including car parks, which motorists and pedestrians know will flood during downpours, especially the sudden prolonged drenchings that are becoming more of the norm in Britain. Even seemingly pancake-flat car parks such as those outside out-of-town supermarkets or cinemas have areas that collect water.

Likewise, any dip in the road surface or slightly sloping corner, however shallow, can quickly become a wide pool as drains struggle to cope with the amount of water gushing down. Climate change is resulting in a far greater frequency of situations like this.

It is something that planners and the construction industry will undoubtedly have to factor in when designing new infrastructure in any town or city.

However bad Drake Street car park was, it evokes fond memories among all who used it.

As for the name of the woman who bravely volunteered to wade across the pool - in wellies I presume - and sit in the dinghy, that remains a mystery. Perhaps someone out there can shed light on it.

Helen Mead