Tram Depot and Bus Store
Rigby Road Depot has seen its eastern side turned over to storage of withdrawn buses. The infusion of twenty five double deck buses from ADL and consequent withdrawal of the familiar yellow and black Trident types, starting with second hand examples acquired in the previous decade requires storage space for now transient vehicles. The diminished tram numbers has meant that depot space has been given over to housing the surplus bus fleet destined, presumably for scrap.
This is not the first time Rigby Road has seen buses encroach on the trams. During the postwar period a similar adjustment saw trams give way to buses in the same part of the tram depot. At that time Blackpool had the luxury of depot space for trams in Blundell Street where long lines of seasonal trams as well as withdrawn Standards and redundant Works Cars filled the building. Upgrading of the the former 'Sun Saloons' to become 'Marton Vambacs' used the eastern side of the depot with newly delivered Maley and Taunton bogies lined up to replace the English Electric bogies delivered in 1939 in the Sun Saloon order (10 -21). In turn the 1939 bogies cascaded down to replenish the Pantograph cars - all but two (167 and 176) receiving the upgrade.
In addition both Marton and Bispham Tram Depots offered ample space for the balance of the tram fleet then numbering over 160 cars of widely differing types. Copse Road Depot in Fleetwood also housed a number of 'relics' in addition to the Permanent Way cars - then consisting of former Company 'Racks'. However the buses were restricted to the Garage at Rigby Road and adjoining open land between the Garage and the Tram Engineering Workshops. A small garage formerly used by Seagull Coaches on Bond Street was leased to the Transport Department to store surplus buses all crammed in according to one enthusiast who recalls seeing the open doors. In the view above we see 'Gondola' 116 of 1935 at the back of the tram depot whilst one of the 1939 'Cheetahs' (19-24) is glimpsed by the dividing wall with the Bus Garage. This is 1953 with the Department crest on both vehicles being neatly covered with a Union Jack transfer by way of commemorating the Queen's Coronation. The Gondola would be withdrawn shortly afterwards, whilst the Cheetahs soldiered on, little used, up to 1959. Sadly neither type made it into preservation.
Photo : John Woodman Archive