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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Hoo Hill via Layton - once upon a time

Layton Tram Shelter - the tram terminus was exactly at this point with the town's cemetery directly behind the camera. Westcliff Drive continues left off camera.

One of the busiest roads leading into Blackpool is in Layton - an area of the town which I happen to be living. On Westcliff Drive over six bus routes traverse in both directions with high frequency on weekdays amid high traffic volume. A major

planning error some years ago saw the insertion of a wide pedestrian strip between Layton 'Institute', a local landmark, and the main roundabout opposite Layton Cemetery (itself the terminus of the Layton tram service up to 1936). When that service was replaced provision was made for a layby outside the then new Layton Library for terminating bus services and short workings.

Westcliff Drive which continued northward was to have seen the extension of Layton trams about a quarter mile up to Hoo Hill where roads to Poulton and north to Bispham diverged. This planned tram extension did not happen but

details of the intended track layout are contained in the new book on BCT Motor Bus Operations 1921 - 1932 - available now from Rigby Road Publications (in limited numbers). Westcliff Drive was purposefully kept wide close to the centre of Layton where commercial businesses sprung up. This posed problems for the town's planners ever since and after a number of variants the traffic flow was narrowed into one lane in each direction. Unfortunately important busy bus stops were sited on either side with the consequence that buses bring all traffic flow to a halt when loading - and this is a serious problem for traffic.

Ironically whilst bus only lanes have been introduced at a number of points in recent years, notably along Central Drive, the Westcliff Drive obstacle has been left untouched despite room for inserting bus laybyes at the two stops involved. Local Councillors have made representation to bring about alterations but so far to no avail and frequent traffic holdups continue. It is ironic to think that these current travails originate in part from an aborted tram extension at Layton planned prior to the Great War. By 1919 local politics had swung away from further tramway development - except for the south promenade seafront reserved track. The motor bus had become the darling of the Council in the 1920s'. Get the new title for details.

What might have been the new terminus of the Layton tram route. Hoo Hill with Poulton Road continung straight ahead and the road to Bispham turning left after the bus shelter. A Service 9 bus is turning on to Westcliff Drive on its way to the town centre in this image. The 'Windmill' refers to a former Public House and indeed a windmill which was sited at the high point immediately right of the car.

Now both are long gone - replaced inevitably by a Tesco Express on the site.

Both Images : John Woodman

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