Swinging the tram's trolleypole outside North Station terminus in 1960. And below waiting to reverse from the same spot for the journey back to Fleetwood. Both images copyright John Woodman
The last tram from North Station left in October 1963 when number 290 clanged its bell for a final journey up Dickson Road to Fleetwood Ferry. The service began in 1898 with the opening of the privately financed (and operated) line that connected the two towns by the most direct route through fields and farmland following the coastline from what became Anchorsholme and Bispham. The company's twenty one year lease expired in 1919. Blackpool's then Mayor, Lindsay Parkinson, bought the company assets and lease lock stock and three depots with a power station.
The forty one trams (all single deck) were incorporated into Blackpool Corporation Tramways fleet and the two systems were then physically connected at the Gynn. Previously the Company trams left their seafront reserved tracks to continue on up into Blackpool's centre by way of what became Dickson Road. The Corporation's trams terminated at the Gynn to return to South Shore and Victoria Pier.
In subsequent years the old style trams were replaced with streamline cars - then the epitomy of modern urban transport. The Fleetwood route gained twenty examples in 1937 built in Loughborough by the Brush Engineering Company. They were numbered 284 to 303 and considered to be (by many) the finest trams in the UK. Latterly Fleetwood was also served by impressive Coronation cars, and then the 'Progress Twin-Car' sets. Economies requiring one man operated trams saw the Corporation workshops at Rigby Road deftly convert old 'rail coach' trams built in Preston to stylish front entrance centre exit design with the driver collecting fares. These showed their age quite quickly but were instrumental in achieving economies on the tram side of Blackpool's transport system during the winter months.
A further generation of one man trams arrived in 1984 with eight brand new trams built by the East Lancashire Coach Company in Blackburn. Numbered 641 to 648 these trams saw out the final decades of traditional tram service until the upgrade of the entire line from Starr Gate to Fleetwood. This involved importing sixteen articulated cars of modular design for the new light rail operation which requires railway regulations being applied to the overall service, as opposed to tramway rules of preceding decades. The Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust, with its business sponsors, acquired the very last tram from North Station to Fleetwood (290) as well as the prototype Centenary car (641) of 1984. These are being preserved with a view to public exhibition in Fleetwood as part of a heritage transport strategy which is the subject of a detailed study now completed. It is not outside the realms of possibility that 290 may yet again return to North Station (now Blackpool North) as part of the formal reopening of tram service to this hub location in 2019/20. Two to North Station please.....