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  • John Woodman (with assistance of Colin MacLeod)

Church Street Tram Track Reveals Itself

Revamping the parking and pedestrian space along a section of Church Street this

week saw road surface being removed (or at least some top layers) to reveal the

distinctive railhead of the former busy Marton tram route. Between the traffic lights at the former Regent Cinema and the gentle slope running down towards now pedestrianised precinct opposite St Johns Church - isolated reminders of Marton's

trams have appeared, but all too briefly.

The writer and Colin well recall countless encounters with the once familiar English Electric rail coaches with the heavy rumble of trucks on steel rail, and the far more discrete hissing of oncoming 'Marton Vambacs' demonstrating the reason for their upgrade and assignment to this all-street service. Tram rail from Clifton Street curve infront of the former GPO (everywhere is 'former' it seems in Blackpool town centre) along Abingdon Street and the lower section of Church Street was removed some years ago to facilitate an expensive remodelling.

Elsewhere along the route track remains very much embedded just under the road surface as the many utility companies and contractors find to their cost as they start

digging away. The frontage to the former depot on Whitegate Drive may well have the impressive double track fan which was an on road feature. At the time the Depot was built (along with the original route) it was surrounded by fields and open land - so the pointwork and intricate network of tracks leading into the depot itself was more economically installed on open ground. Rapid house building and other investment saw this quickly change but road traffic was relatively slight.

From time to time, as now, these vestiges of municipal infrastructure would appear to tease later generations. A short section of tram rail can be seen freed from the tarmac along Station Road - itself a seasonal extension of the Marton service - every third car turning at Royal Oak to traverse a stretch of Lytham Road and then turn at a manually operated junction into Station Road. The Station Road south facing points being a frequent hazard when forgetful conductors omitted to return them to the south facing position for Squires Gate after their car had traversed the junction towards South Pier. A consequent derailment awaited the next Squires Gate bound tram with grooves on the road surface permanently marking a brief trail of woe for the front bogie.

Signs from former times revealed opposite Stanley Buildings and approaching the Regent building on Church Street. Images ; John Woodman

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