Crossleys Bridge as generations knew it :
A shock announcement this week by Blackpool Council warned of the planned closure of an important bridge over the railway line to Poulton and Preston from the end of the Illuminations. Crossley's Bridge, so called because of the former sawmill and woodworks adjoining the railway close to Layton Station - is unsafe following detailed inspection of its structure. Its demolition has been ordered and a replacement road bridge to be constructed over a ten month period. Preparatory work begins next month with total closure from November when the existing structure is demolished. A new bridge will be constructed in 2017.
The railway line underneath is to be electrified with work commencing in 2017 and partial costs for the new bridge are being met by Network Rail. Crossley's Bridge is a vital connecting artery with heavy traffic during working days - and enormous disruption is to be expected with only two or three alternative north south road links from Bispham to the town centre and Victoria Hospital : Devonshire Road (already heavily used), Dickson Road (to the Gynn junction with the Promenade) and the promenade itself. Considerable re routing and adjustment to bus services is no doubt being planned by Blackpool Transport with the potential of the 9 Service using Devonshire Road and Warbreck Hill Road.
The bridge itself opened in 1932 - a major improvement at the time. Until then road traffic used a level crossing which was sited to the west of the station buildings. It was very similar to the current installation at Carleton Crossing just a mile or so due east along the railway line - itself a cause for traffic delays at peak times. I well recall Crossleys timber yard which offered firewood and kindling to anyone for sixpence a sackful or handcart. This was paid at the main gate entrance for which a stamped receipt was provided. A large shed inside the site had mounds of offcuts which we shovelled onto carts for use as fuel and kindling. Bus services along Bispham Road were the 9s' and 22. The 15A which ran from Red Bank Road tram depot to Victoria Hospital turned right before the bridge onto Warbreck Hill Road and then to Gynn Square and into town via Dickson Road.
Blackpool saw three bridges to similar design erected in the same era - Harrowside and Squires Gate Lane (over the railway leading to Central Station) and at Crossleys. Of course it wasn't officially called 'Crossleys Bridge' but that was how it was popularly known and the name has stuck even though the business has long gone. A recent blog on Layton Station has reference to the bridge and the adjacent coal siding which was sited just behind the station platform to serve local merchants. Coal being transshipped from wagons into dumps owned by individual coal merchants. In those days most houses had coal fires and stoves (or coke). Our local delivery was by 'Charles Brock' with a sackful arriving every so often for deposit into the coal shed at the rear of our house. I laboured nearly daily (in winter) shovelling a bucket load or more to replenish the coal scuttle next to the fireplace in our living room. The kindling from Crossley's would be used to start the fire each day in winter - as well as a stove in the kitchen.
Now the bridge from the 1930s - with a certain imposing style (they did things proper in those days) will be reduced (carefully) to rubble and another Blackpool landmark disappears. We await with interest the rerouting plans of BTS.