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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Another Bridge Closes

A major traffic diversion began this week with the closure of Squires Gate bridge over the railway track serving the south Fylde from Blackpool to Kirkham and Preston. Constructed in the same period (1931) as Harrowside Bridge (also closed) and the bridge over the railway at Layton - the Squires Gate bridge still retains tramlines which last were used in 1961 during farewell tours of the Lytham Road and Squires Gate tram service. Fifty five years after construction all these bridges required urgent repair and Blackpool Council had no option but to commission replacement of the roadway and the supporting structures.

Below : Detail from road bridge construction in the early 1930s.

Squires Gate Lane has a midway (or had) division of Local Authority control with the southern half of the roadway being in the jurisdiction of Lytham St Annes Council (as it was in far off days) - whilst the northern half fell into Blackpool Corporation's control. This made for some interesting division of fare receipts on trams traversing in both directions - between the respective transport undertakings up to 1937 when the last Lytham St Annes tram rumbled into the depot on the eastern side of the railway bridge. Thereafter buses provided joint running services between the two authorities.

However in the postwar period, Blackpool Corporation Transport reopened for a few brief years its popular tram Circular Tour. Wishing to avoid sharing any revenue with its southern neighbour the tour operated in anti clockwise direction from Talbot Square. This meant use of the northern (eastbound track) when it traversed Squires Gate Lane from the three way street tram junction at Starr Gate until reaching the tramway terminus of the Squires Gate service on Lytham Road. No requirement for permits or legal correspondence with its counterparts on the other side of the road at Lytham St Annes Corporation Transport.

No doubt the hidden tram tracks on the bridge roadway will come back to light as the contractors work progresses in coming weeks - just to complicate their excavation. When the Starr Gate road junction was given a makeover a decade back - the junction or parts of it similarly interfered with what appeared to be a relatively straight forward road resurfacing. Most of this hidden tramway infrastructure from first generation tram services along the Fylde coast still remains to further bedevil future extension work which may emerge.

Weird spray paint markings so beloved of contractors preparing for their next job. All images John Woodman November 5th 2017

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