THE OLD tradition of car boot felt a boom in Barrow back in 1992.

Sacred Heart Church car boot sale had everything going for it - sunshine, bargains, crowds, two baby baths and a brand-new kitchen sink!

Jumble sales were out at the peak of the age of the boot sale, a kind of marriage between the Thatcherite enterprise culture and what was the growing need for cheaper goods.

Everyone was there - the family in the Sierra selling for the first time, the regular car booter with old van and trailer crammed with anything, and the newsagent’s transit stacked with brand new annuals and pop calendars - surplus stock at knock-down prices.

What could start as a bit of a weekend laugh could turn into a way of life where buying to sell and selling to buy becomes an art - rather like an alternative Stock Exchange.

It was well known that before the gates open boot holders make a quick circuit, casting a trained eye over prices and snapping up saleable pieces.

Nobody could doubt the phenomenal growth of boot sales.

What was puzzling was why these spectacles had quickly become part of our culture. Except for high street and corner shopkeepers, the boot sale served everybody’s interest.

First there was The Customer - the hard-up young family on the lookout for a pram or a kid’s bike. Then the unemployed person struggling on diminishing state benefits for whom new clothes or furniture were out of reach.

The Boot Holders ranged from the sharpest, most cutthroat dealer to the family which just turned out the attic to find a strange assortment of gear too good for the dustbin.

But what brought the avid rummager and budding entrepreneur together and kept the sales snowballing was the charity which kept providing the venues.

Marjorie Gallagher of the Catholic Women’s League had explained that since the sales had started two years previously at Sacred Heart, the venue had become the most popular in Barrow.