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Farewell the Timber Shop

March 20, 2017

Blackpool's trams and buses up to the 1950's were timber framed.   As indeed were most of UK municipal transport vehicles of the first half of the past century.  The timber store and carpentry skills were a pre-eminent requirement of coachbuilders.

Seasoned timber required storing in airy facilities with constant temperatures and Blackpool Corporation Transport ensured it had the requisite building for the purpose.   It occupied a prominent position alongside Rigby Road and facing the 1930s transport offices - being frequently photographed by bus enthusiasts (including the author) intent on capturing this or that classic vehicle usually parked alongside prior to entering service.

 

Below :    Gasometers and the old Timber Shop and later BCT Canteen just before the structure's demolition which looks overdue judging by by the corrugated iron cladding.   Images :  John Woodman Archive.

 

Above : the site is now used for staff parking.   The double panels on the first floor/level show where materials were hauled into the building.  The canteen windows looked out on to the Transport offices off camera. 

 

During the 1940s the Timber Shop gave up its ground floor level (or much of it) to provide for a staff canteen.   In this guise it was a popular part of the Rigby Road complex being also next door to the various tram (and bus) work shops which formed an avenue leading down from Rigby Road entrance to the Bus Garage.   A Works traverser running in front of the eastern side of the various tram engineering work shops allowed the transfer of cars between different stages of their overhaul or repair. On wired track from Blundell Street curved around the office block and directly to the traverser pit - a small remnant of this can still be seen today.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the bus side of the transport fleet, wooden framed vehicles gave way to metal in the late 1950s and the last vestiges of wood framed buses (all of centre entrance design) finally departed in the mid 1960s.  However of course the tram fleet would be

wholly dependent on carpentry skills for quite some time thereafter.   Upgrades of the tram fleet involving the Jubilee cars and of course the Centenary cars meant modest switch to new construction methods but wood working remained a constant feature in the Body Shop where trams were involved.  

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