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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Squires Gate Bridge Set For Rebuilding

Formal notices have been published announcing the closure of the road bridge at Squires Gate over the railway line with effect from the end of the Illuminations. Quite considerable delays and diversions will result in peak traffic hours as a result but are unavoidable. Much like the recent rebuilding (on time) of a similar road bridge over the railway line at Layton Station - the Squires Gate bridge is showing signs of severe corrosion necessitating its reconstruction. Nearby Harrowside road bridge is also being rebuilt for similar reason causing further diversions of traffic. All three bridges were constructed in the early 1930s hence this parallel rebuilding work by the Council. Three years ago Lytham Road bridge was also rebuilt (known as 'Skew Bridge') but this was from original construction in an earlier period.

For those with a passion for the town's tramway heritage - Squires Gate Bridge work will reveal double track tramlines which linked the Lytham Road tram route to Starr Gate's street junction (under tarmac) - and allowed Lytham St Annes trams to utilise depot access on the eastern side of the railway bridge. The roadway (and the tramlines) had an interesting split jurisdiction given that the boundary line between the Borough of Blackpool and that of Lytham St Annes ran along the middle of the road, thus ensuring the eastbound tram track along which Blackpool's final Circular Tours operated from Starr Gate to Lytham Road - did not involve nominal payment to Lytham St Annes Council's coffers. Blackpool never took advantage of running its own trams to St Annes (nor Ansdell or Lytham) - although it might have done so. On the other hand there are reports of Lytham St Annes (Company) electric trams being towed over Blackpool tram tracks and on to the Blackpool & Fleetwood Company line at Talbot Road junction - continuing along much of the entire route until gaining access to Copse Road Depot in Fleetwood were they were stored pending completion of the Squires Gate Depot construction. An example of the private sector cooperating with the public sector - although no doubt some tithe was extracted in the process by Blackpool Corporation.

The Lytham St Annes Tram Depot (later Bus Garage but complete with tram tracks) is long gone - sold off by privatised Blackpool Transport Services Ltd. for a one off property development. It might have made an excellent tram museum given its frontage onto a main road and even hidden track access under the roadway (soon to be revealed). One other road bridge over a railway is that at Waterloo Road which also still has the residual tram tracks of the former (and much lamented) Marton tramway under the road surface. This bridge was the subject of selective strengthening and traffic limitation earlier this year - but did not require total closure for rebuilding.

Err that's enough for now on bridge topics...

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