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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Trams to Squires Gate (Again)

Once upon a time Blackpool's trams had 'Airport' on their destination blinds along with 'Squires Gate'. This was when a service operated from the town centre along the promenade to Manchester Square and then crossed over to continue along Lytham Road as far as its junction with Squires Gate Lane. At that point Blackpool Airport was sited just across the road from the tram terminus.

As recounted in my various titles on Blackpool's transport scene over the years, this street tramway ended in 1961 to be replaced by Bus Service 12. Previously Lytham St Annes had operated its distinctive pale blue and white trams along Squires Gate Lane and into Blackpool, terminating at the Gynn. Although there were several variations of this interrunning service over the decades up to 1937.

Tram tracks remain in the roadway from Starr Gate road junction up to the Lytham Road where they met the terminus of the Squires Gate service. This week ironically work has begun on the road surface on Squires Gate Lane Bridge revealing segments of the tram track. At the same time Blackpool's Gazette newspaper carried a lead front page article on the ambitious plans for the New Enterprise Zone taking up a chunk of land formerly used by the airport and also the wartime Vickers Bomber assembly factory. The new Enterprise Zone may become the catalyst for another extension from the promenade tramway running from Starr Gate to serve the commercial developments already established and growing in this part of Blackpool.

During the war years plans were drawn up by Walter Luff's team to extend the Lytham Road tramway eastward along Squires Gate Lane, at that time intended to provide new transport facilities for literally the thousands of workers employed 24/7 at what was one of the UK's largest bomber factories. A lack of tram rail was the official reason for this scheme to be shelved but the drawings remain at Rigby Road offices and were featured in the book 'Municipal Transport in War Austerity' published two years ago.

Now it seems Squires Gate Lane may just re-acquire its tramway with trams again showing on their indicators 'Squires Gate Airport' (and Enterprise Park). Preliminary considerations having been given to this further extension to the existing operation from Starr Gate. History thus indeed having a habit of repeating itself - at least as far as Blackpool's tramway is concerned... Below : The very last tram to Squires Gate in 1961 Image John Woodman

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