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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

The GPO Hotel ?

News reports this week that the Owners of the classic facaded former General Post Office building in Blackpool town centre have submitted proposals for its new role

as a hotel are to be welcomed. The building anchors both Abingdon Street and Clifton Street and is one of several distinctive and noteworthy structures in Blackpool. After losing the iconic Yates Wine Lodge to arson, with its gaping void looking on to what was once Blackpool's civic centre - Talbot Square, the regeneration of the 'GPO' is very much to be welcomed.

Both Abingdon Street and Clifton Street have fallen on to hard times. Even the once thriving Abingdon Street Market is struggling to survive in any credible form, while once upmarket Clifton Street's commercial strip is now a sad venue for charity shops and empty store fronts. An infusion of new investment in this part of town could be a catalyst in changing the economic profile for the better. The Council's consideration of creating a new conference centre for middle size events on Leopold Grove adjoining both the Winter Gardens and Opera House complex would be a further important stimulant for the town. Topical news of the increase in tourism (both domestic and foreign) in the UK following on the fall in value of sterling is a further stimulant to new leisure and hospitality investment in British seaside resorts, especially Blackpool.

The GPO dominates Clifton Street in this Saturday morning scene with cars parked on both sides (no meters or parking charge in 1960). A Vambac car heads down to Talbot Square tram terminus with the driver's cab windscreen fully open to catch more than a breeze. Below : Sunday and short working to Abingdon Street due to a parade along Talbot Road and Talbot Square. Abingdon Street Market when it really was the town's main market and the adjoining GPO building dominating the street. The new Timothy White's store is just being completed on the left hand side and is that Colin MacLeod taking a photograph of the scene next to the waste bin?

Plans for the GPO redevelopment show retention of the classic frontage facing on

Abingdon Street. This retains a former tram overhead wall rosette which helped anchor the span wiring on this very tight curve for the Marton service. Marton tram drivers were forbidden to pass on the curve with its sharp overhang of the

Vambac cars in each direction. The former Hunter's Mens Clothing store on the corner and latterly a branch of a Spanish bank - is now empty but I suspect not for long if the ' GPO Hotel' proposal gets the go ahead from the Council - as well it should. Of course just a few yards further along Abingdon Street is Talbot Road due now to reacquire tram lines and an important service to the railway station. Its almost like old times - what goes around comes around. Both Images Copyright :

John Woodman

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