160 TRAMS + 160 BUSES
Compared to present day services Blackpool's transport scene in the 1950s was a major undertaking in the national ranking of UK municipal transport systems. Certainly in relation to the town's population. The tens of millions of visitors
making Blackpool their annual holiday destination made a huge difference in the
capacity requirements of the Transport Department. Seasonal specials and services meant that a combination of 'open' cars' and traditional trams like the 'Pantograph cars' and 'Standards' needed to be held during the winter months awaiting shoals of 'holidaymakers' as the now quaint term described them.
Central Station, Blackpool South and Blackpool North would be besieged by tides of determined families, whilst the Coliseum Coach Station, Talbot Road Bus Station, Yelloway's own coach station near Bloomfield Road, South Shore Coach Park and the Council Coach Park on Rigby Road would be besieged at peak times on weekends with arriving and departing buses and coaches of varying vintages and diverse operators. There were increasing numbers of car owners as well as more economic motorbike and sidecar travellers - and whilst they were very much in a minority compared to arrivals by train and coach; the town's roads would be congested with tailbacks on all the main roads from Preston and Garstang. During Illumination weekends traffic into Blackpool was aways a continuous crawl right up to the final destination in town.
The Transport Department maintained trams at Marton, Bispham, Blundell Street and Rigby Road Depots, whilst buses made do with covered and open parking at Rigby Road Garage and adjoining space. The rest of Britain's tram systems were in the throes of getting 'rid of the trams' but Blackpool firmly stuck to its maintenance of a sizeable operation, having upgraded some of the fleet for the Marton service in the early Fifties, and acquiring twenty five new trams for the Fleetwood service during the same period. This policy would change in the middle of the decade with new Management and economic realities which brought ever rising operating costs, staff wage increases, vastly increasing road traffic and the encroachment of television into homes (just a few of the factors impacting on nearly every municipal transport system in the country).
However for those of us around in those times - it was a wonderful experience to record the comings and goings of individual vehicles of this sizeable fleet. And of course there were British Railways contribution to the town's resort appeal with lines of steam locomotives at both Blackpool North and Central 'Sheds' together with the enormous carriage sidings in both locations.
For just a 'whiff' of those now far-off times 'Municipal Transport Heyday - Blackpool Buses and Trams 1950 - 1959' will be a book capturing the town's transport when well over 300 cream and green vehicles were part of our lives.
Above : Lytham Road at Station Road with a newly delivered PD2 and a Brush rail coach at the Station Road stop: and Dickson Road approaching the Promenade with comings and goings of trams on the North Station service. Prototype rail coach 200 still retains its slightly shorter cab features immediately identifiying it from its 44 other cousins. Imagine that ! 45 English Electric rail coaches and another 20 built by Brush Engineering - just one part of Blackpool's extensive tram fleet in those halcyon years.
Both Images : John Woodman