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Tram Museum Aborted

December 15, 2016

 This is a picture taken from the top floor of the Transport Offices at a time when the roof of Blundell Street Tram Depot was being stripped of its tiles prior to demolition.   This followed on the resulting inspection of the structure after high winds distorted the interior partitioning with consequent structural damage.  The cost of repair was deemed to high by Blackpool Council thus condemning this otherwise historic structure to the history books.   This event had echoes many years later when the roofing of the new Starr Gate Depot was similarly damaged by high winds with urgent repairs having to be carried out.  

 

Blundell Street depot would have/could have become a marvellous tram and bus heritage venue including the historic single line access track along Princess Street which linked it with the Promenade tramway.   The street track still remains in place but will soon also be a memory with further redevelopment of this part of the town.

 

A study was carried out on behalf of the British Commercial Vehicle Museum intended to quantify the benefits of relocating the BCVM collection to Blundell Street from its home in Leyland.  This anticipated a tourist type tram service from the proposed exhibition on to the Promenade.   Of course this was not to be.    A further plan by Blackpool Council to subsequently utilise the site of the depot building to stable a fleet of light rail vehicles allowing a complete circuit of trams entering the Blundell Street 'depot' from Foxhall and along Princess Street - whilst exiting in a southerly connecting track towards Hopton Road and thence via Lytham Road to Manchester Square junction.  As everyone knows this got as far as the installation of connecting points (and crossovers) at Foxhall in the upgraded light rail project - where they still remain.  No doubt now due for extraction and a new use within the North Station extension layout.   

 

This was the closest Blackpool got to regeneration of Blundell Street tram depot and its track infrastructure.  Now the priority of 'social' and other housing has pre-empted all of these worthy initiatives and we can only reflect on 'what might have been.   Marton Depot similarly would have made a marvellous tram museum but sadly would have required continuance of tram access from the promenade and along Whitegate Drive.  No chance of that ever happening.  Bispham Depot, a structure built by the former Tramroad Company, lacked the style, space and amenities of the Corporation Tramways depot, whilst Copse Road Depot was a scaled down version of the Company's principal operation at Bispham.   

 

Rigby Road Depot, built in the mid 1930s, was intended to also host exhibitions with a main access door built into the side wall facing on to Lytham Road.   As far as I am aware this did not eventualise.  Although the Bus Garage did host two 'Dog Shows' prior to the outbreak of war, with Corporation buses held in a screened off part of the enlarged structure whilst canine breeds took over much of the building, along with their breeders, handlers and general public.   In due course this too will be the subject of redevelopment, leaving the tram depot structure and attendant workshops available for heritage purposes.

Image :   John Woodman Archive

 

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