Wyre Dock from the Trawler Jacinta berth.
The conclusions of a recent study carried out by an independent consultancy for the Blackpool Fylde & Wyre Economic Development Agency affirm the considerable potential for a themed heritage transport attraction on the Fylde coast. Closely examining the diversity of assets and archival material held by disparate groups and organisations - the study reveals underlying economic factors which point to a sustainable offer requiring joined up displays with contributing partners.
Given the diversity of interest extending from BAE Systems Heritage at Warton, to Owners of the TVR marque, classic buses held by the Ribble Vehicle Preservation group; naturally Blackpool's substantial heritage trams at Rigby Road plus the collection in ownership of the FHLT at Fleetwood; among other iconic heritage transport interests such as the landau Owners in Blackpool - the report indicates a plausible case for a new year round visitor attraction.
One focus of the study was Blackpool Council's ownership of the tramway depot, workshops and infrastructure at Rigby Road - whose future is as yet undetermined with new housing development ongoing around this location. However the need for the Fylde coast's role in aviation history being clearly recognised also calls for a site able to offer exhibits encompassing material highlighting Britain's first air display (at Squires Gate in 1909); to design of aircraft including seaplanes at Lytham, the US Air Force sizeable operation at Warton in World War Two, as well as Vickers Armstrong Wellington Bomber assembly facility at Squires Gate, up to the latest jet and unmanned / pilotless developments ongoing in Lancashire.
Thus the recommendation for a hub venue linked and marketed with partnering sites; each with especial focus is underlined in the report's conclusions. For Fleetwood this involves initiatives of the FHLT at Wyre Dock. The inner dock is now subject to redevelopment following on final transfer of existing fish trading businesses to a new Fish Business Park sited away from the historic dockside. The FHLT already have benefit of storing their collection of vintage trams at this location through a benefitting relationship with Associated British Ports (ABP). The heritage transport study shows an economic case for Wyre Dock to become part of an overall Fylde coast scheme, in concert with Rigby Road, and possibly two other locations.
Exploratory discussions are underway by the FHLT with Fleetwood companies to progress objectives in which Wyre Dock emerges with a new role in attracting visitors alongside the Freeport experience and initiatives elsewhere in the town. Fleetwood's longstanding association with electric trams (since 1898) and the annual 'Tram Sunday' event each July would be amplified through a year round attraction with classic trams on permanent view; together with other vintage vehicles. lnteractive displays of the role of Wyre Dock and Fleetwood in former times would allow displays of artifacts in store by Fleetwood Museum and private owners.
Radical changes in this important feature of Fleetwood's fishing history underpin outline proposals being worked on by the FHLT in 2016 with several interested Parties. These will be subject to plans of ABP and its redevelopment timeframe.