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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Waterloo Road Please

June 18th this week sees the bicentenary of that famous battle just south of Brussels - and a little north of Charleroi. This final and bloody chapter ended the Napoleonic era - heralding a hundred years of relative peace on a continent beset by all manner of warring encounters between countries large and small, up to then. Naturally the rise of Prussia - read Germany - in the 19th century was not without considerable bloodletting involving neighboring Denmark, Austria and France. But enough of the history lesson stuff.

Waterloo is commemorated in Britain through streets, monuments and most famously a large railway station from which millions have embarked from the capital to the 'continent'. Nowadays one has to go to a station facing north in order to travel south from London and then 'under' the English Channel.

Blackpool's recognition of the Battle of Waterloo was made manifest in naming an important new road running straight to the sea from the former 'Oxford Hotel' and the point where the old road from Preston reached towards the town's centre. Waterloo Road provided the longest straight stretch on the old Marton tram service - offering drivers the chance to 'motor along' at some speed during quiet times of the day. The Waterloo Hotel complete with Bowling Green (and stables) was an impressive new Public House completed in the year of the tram route's opening (1901). Although at that time the trams turned inward to return to Blackpool's central districts along what became 'Central Drive' terminating naturally at 'Central Station'. A new red brick school was also built: 'Waterloo School', which still functions as an important part of Blackpool's educational infrastructure to the present day. In the 1920s a new Public Library became a distinctive municipal structure on Waterloo Road - now being converted into residential accommodation but retaining most of its original structure.

Left : The magnificent art deco windows and original gas lamp fitting on the frontage of the Waterloo Hotel of 1901. Municipal Coat of Arms on Marton's new Library and busy Spen Corner around which Marton trams swiftly traversed on a 4 minute frequency.

Blackpool also had its Wellington Hotel, Trafalgar Road and Nelson Road - but no statues, plaques or singular commemoration of these momentous 19th Century events. The early 19th Century saw Blackpool as a small cluster of buildings huddled together on a prominence - reached solely by mail coach over rutted tracks from Preston. All this changed rapidly with the coming of the railway.

Brooks Collectables and Notrianni's fantastic icecream remain singularly popular must visit venues just across from the Waterloo Road tram stop.

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