1961 - Farewell Lytham Road Trams
Sixty years have passed since trams last ran all the way to Squires Gate along Lytham Road. The worn out track and increasing road traffic were reasons given for replacing this important street tram service to give way to buses by the Transport Committee of the day. In fact this was the first of three successive route conversions which eliminated street running trams in Blackpool, other than the short stretch behind the Metropole Hotel and depot access tracks at Foxhall and Manchester Square.
Photo Copyright John Woodman. Skew Railway Bridge on Lytham Road looking north as Balloon Car 253 traverses the steep incline en route for Squires Gate terminus.
The Transport Department made no plans for a special ceremony of the last day or last tram to Squires Gate - preferring to play down the entire event as far as the general public were concerned. Only the attendance of familiar faces of enthusiasts, both local and from around the country would enliven the final week's operation. Closure of Lytham Road tramway in face meant also the end of summer season extension of the Marton tram service which saw every third tram continuing past the Royal Oak terminus of that line and continuing along Lytham Road as far as the next tramway junction with Station Road where manually operated points (by the tram conductor) allowed the Marton car to then swing into Station Road and run in a straight line as far as the Promenade opposite South Pier. The closure also meant the end of the Department's once popular Circular Tour which took advantage of retained tracks from Clifton Drive across the Starr Gate road junction and over the Squires Gate Lane bridge This saw 'boat' cars carrying visitors along Lytham Road as far as Royal Oak junction where they then turn inland on to Waterloo Road for the ever enthralling sights and sounds of the Marton route all the way into the town centre.
Photo by John Woodman : Discoloured image of an English Electric car from Squires Gate passing a Brush car heading south on Lytham Road in 1960. The Post Office Shop window blind is a poignant feature. Station Road's tracks are immediately to the left hand side off camera.
I was fortunate enough to witness the final night of the Lytham Road (Squires Gate and Airport) service - operated by an English Electric rail coach filled with enthusiasts. Home made posters were hurriedly affixed to the rear cab windscreens marking the occasion in the absence of any official recognition. After a brief stopover by the crew the tram then retraced its way as far as Manchester Square where it again reversed over a crossover on Lytham Road to gain access into Hopton Road and the tram depot. The very last tram from South Pier on the Marton route summer extension had already made its final journey back to Talbot Square along Station Road.
Replacing bus service 12 with newly delivered Metro Cammell bodied Leyland buses took over the Squires Gate service the following morning with dismantling of the tramway overhead beginning almost immediately. Sub Station feeder cables at Station Road and Lytham Road were retained to enable power supply to Royal Oak until the Marton tram service itself was replaced by buses in 1962. The many examples from the large fleet of English Electric rail coaches was then either stored or scrapped from 1962. For most residents living along or in proximity to Lytham Road trams in their later years there was a collective sigh of relief following on the absence of tram wheels hitting sunken rail joints intermittently along the residential neighborhood in South Shore. No tears being shed on this particular closure.