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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Historic trackage on the way out

The tramway connection at the Foxhall leading from the Promenade on to Princess Street was severed last year thus ending a feature which existed from the very early days of the original electric tram operation in 1885.

The single line along Princess Street allowed access to the principal depot, offices

and rudimentary maintenance facilities which were all contained within Blundell

Street Depot. A further section of track was installed along Blundell Street to then

connect with the integrated tramway workshops, and new depot with other resources built on Corporation land adjoining Rigby Road in the early 1920s and Thirties. Whilst both of these important track infrastructural assets lingered into recent years : their demise is now imminent. Redevelopment of Blundell Street area entirely will see this once very familiar part of the tramway around Foxhall

disappear. Disconnected Princess Street track still remains in place for the moment. Comprehensive housebuilding of the entire area involves eradication of Blundell Street layout as we know it, including Blundell Street itself.

Balloon Car 700 in happier times (and with a more relevant condition) is seen in 2005 on a special 'Blundell Street tram tour event' organised by the LTT. This included their Coronation Car 304, with 700, Standard 147 and that great survivor. Below: Motor Unit 678 - nimbly traversing dormant track on Blundell Street. All of the buildings alongside are now demolished, with the car park to the right fully built on with new housing. Top : A tram driver's (700) view along Princess Street. Above : 700 carefully negotiates the tight curve from Princess Street on to Blundell Street. Remnants of pointwork for the track connection to Blundell Street Depot in the foreground. Photographs : John Woodman

When Rigby Road was a functioning depot, the importance of a second track link to the Promenade required this original connection (wired) to the Promenade for emergencies that precluded use of Lytham Road and Manchester Square tracks.

Now that Rigby Road is reduced to storage and heritage car operation, with only skeleton staff - need for the Foxhall Promenade track connection was removed.

Further proposals on and around the BTS operating site at Rigby Road include more house building and or a new school. Transfer of the bus garage and its facilities will involve considerable capital outlay, but one or two alternative sites have been already identified by Planners. The fate of the tram depot and important workshops remaining from the original 1920s complex have a bearing on the ultimate decisions by Blackpool Council. A working group has been created to consider a wider transport heritage scheme which would ensure retention of this important complex, wholly or in part. This includes BTS (naturally) together with several other transport related heritage organisations including BAE Systems, TVR Owners, the FHLT and road vehicle groups locally including the LTT and Ribble Vehicle Preservation Group at Freckleton. The famous Blackpool landau (themselves heritage conveyances - or at least those which retain their original design) are included in current due diligence.

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