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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Fylde's rich transport heritage

They dont load trailers today like they used to. Here is T9 going on a one way journey and eventual scrapping as it prepares for its last journey from Rigby Road Depot. The trailer class have had quite a confusing history in recent years - three being stored at Wyre Dock currently - and an example due to reverse this scene in the coming weeks.

Blackpool hosted the first aviation display in the United Kingdom. The town of course was the first to put its faith in electric powered trams running along its streets in 1885. Railway journeys north to Scotland ended at Fleetwood where passengers transferred to steamers for onward journeys to the west coast of Scotland and Belfast - until more powerful locomotives were able to tackle the lengthy inclines over Shap Fell and northward thereafter from the 1890s.

A marvellous Blackpool firm called HV Burlingham developed long distance coaches (with toilets) taking travellers to the Midlands and London well before the Second World War. The company went on to create classic designs for diverse operators including Ribble, Yelloway, SMT and of course Blackpool's own Transport Department from the 1930s to the 1960s. A famous sportscar marque TVR founded in Blackpool in the postwar era went on to secure thousands of adherents by the time it moved to Bristol Avenue in Bispham. Below : a Blackpool built bus heading for Egypt via Liverpool Docks. One of a series sold to the Ramleh Electric Railway and one example of Burlingham's export prowess in the 1930s - albeit limited. Image : Copyright BCVM, Leyland

Early seaplanes were built at Lytham in the 1920s - while BAE Aerospace took over the Warton airfield and its facilities in the 1980s to go on and produce cutting edge avionics designs including pilotless fighter jets up to the present day. World War Two saw Squires Gate transformed by a massive Wellington Bomber assembly line, with wings and parts being assembled elsewhere in Blackpool, including Marton tram depot. By contrast Blackpool's horsedrawn landau with their own rich history continue to ply their way along the promenade to increasing visitor acclaim. Of course Blackpool's trams date from an era when the resort was the largest and most popular seaside town in the country - offering a wholesome quality holiday experience for all ages and attracting record millions year in year out.

Efforts are now underway to bring together vehicles, aircraft, cars, buses, coaches and of course trams from these halcyon times through a coordinated visitor attraction - spread along the Fylde coastline and embracing diverse sites linked by common marketing campaigns. A working group set up last year is now involved in a feasibility assessment with a specialist team visiting key sites and representatives of contributing organisations. The Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust kickstarted a phased study at Wyre Dock and not during the best of weather. An independent assessment on the ways and means by which the Fylde's rich transport heritage can be most explicitly showcased and marketed to the widest possible audience - will provide guidance and conclusions in April. In the meantime individual groups and Trusts continue with their own initiatives. Squires Gate being the first site opening its doors to an aircraft exhibition which it is hoped will extend to the history of the site and its important place in UK aviation history. Our own Trust is examining a credible scheme for Fleetwood with ongoing consultation as a preparatory step.

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