Tram Extension Work Set to Begin
Whilst final legals have to be ticked the decision to proceed with immediate infrastructure work following the last night of the Lights has been taken by Blackpool Council. Ironically it was successive last night of the Lights way back in the early 1960s when tramways were closed in Blackpool in 1961 (Lytham Road Service), 1962 (Marton tramway service) and 1963 (Dickson Road North Station Service). Each final day of the Illuminations saw enthusiast tours traversing the soon to be redundant tracks on cars that were unfamiliar on the condemned routes.
So in 2017 the end of the Illuminations heralds the commencement of work on a new tramway in the town. How the worm has turned. Full praise for the Council taking on this challenge despite continuing criticism from various quarters, not the least of which are hackney cab drivers perturbed at the idea of trams picking up passengers outside the main railway station. It ever was so in former times when trams ran to a terminus immediately outside the old North Station depositing and collecting passengers for their journeys to the north of the town centre. Waterloo Road (Blackpool South) station similarly had trams passing the station both on Waterloo Road as well as closeby on Lytham Road with high frequency schedules in the summer season.
Central Station required a short hop over the promenade to tram stops - whilst up to the mid 1930s a tram terminus existed at Hounds Hill, albeit less popular, with a service that actually ended up less than a quarter mile further north in front of the Town Hall. A Marton tram service would operate from Talbot Square as far as St Annes Road where a junction allowed trams to then turn north to Central Drive and thence to Hounds Hill and Central Station, passing the excursion platforms leading on to Central Drive.
Of course Fleetwood's railway station not only had trams for Blackpool right outside its main frontage, but also steamers that would take onward travellers to Ardrossan and Belfast, among other coastal ports. Steamers, station and trains have of course long gone but the trams remain.
The thought of trams picking up trade at Blackpool North is something of an anethma to taxi drivers. But Manchester, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Nottingham, Croydon, Birmingham and soon Wolverhampton have tram services running to mainline railway stations. So a resort town such as Blackpool. with increasing numbers of visitors arriving by train (and more so with the faster electrified operation from 2018) would be out of touch without a tram service that served its principal railway terminal.
Not quite a tram to the station. Bispham Station in 1931 with a Blackpool Corporation Tramways bus on the 9 Service waiting for the level crossing gates to open after passage of the L&Y train seen at the station. This was during the final week of the level crossing operation before the new road bridge (just visible to the right) was formally opened for traffic. A signal box controlling the level crossing is seen behind the train along with stationmaster's house and ticket office which still stands today. (Below)