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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Lytham Road Trams - for a change !

Highfield Road crossover with a Balloon car making a return journey to the Cabin and well kept local shops with sun blinds lowered as a backdrop (plus trees).

Marton trams seem to be getting overly long attention on this blog so it is only fair to share some images of the equally important street tram route in Blackpool which ran up to Squires Gate Lane from Manchester Square. Originally built for the Blackpool St Annes and Lytham Tramway Company with joined up service as far as Station Road where Blackpool Corporation trams ended (for a time). Eventually Blackpool Corporation took over the entire Lytham Road tramway. The continuing line that ran over the railway tracks at Squires Gate Lane Bridge to a junction at Starr Gate and thence south to St Annes and Lytham was in the ownership of a municipalised Lytham St Annes tram service.

1937 saw the final run of the blue and white Lytham St Annes trams - replacement by new Leyland Titan Gearless buses on the 11 joint running service into Blackpool did away with the loss making trams. Blackpool Corporation had renewed the tram track along Lytham Road in the early 1930s - but by 1960 it was again in need of costly reconstruction. The three way street junction at Royal Oak had been completely rebuilt in 1959 to much surprise - but this did not stop the decision to finally convert the Lytham Road (Squires Gate and Airport) tram service to buses at the end of the Illuminations in 1961. This also included the Station Road extension that took Marton trams down to the promenade facing South Pier during the summer season.

Lytham Road trams were frequent and noisy given the condition of the track in many parts of the line. There were several crossovers along the almost straight route from Manchester Square to Squires Gate. Accordingly one could see quite considerable short workings in the summer months with Highfield Road being the most frequently used, as well as Station Road just before the Skew Bridge. Bloomfield Road crossover was far less used except for enthusiast tours and emergency short workings. Another crossover just before the Hopton Road track connection to the depot was also in use up until the end of the service.

The Station Road track junction was manually operated requiring Marton cars (every third car from Talbot Square) to have to physically change the points before turning off Lytham Road into Station Road with the conductor pulling the overhead frog for the trolley to follow the same direction. This was a location of quite frequent derailments when the Marton car's conductor forgot to reset the points back to straight after his car had passed over the junction facing into Station Road. The road surface bore witness to such events with multiple grooves where bogie wheels had met resistant tarmac instead of steel railhead.

Station Road also had a crossover frequently used both for short workings from the Promenade as well as depot runs from Marton Depot to the Promenade. For some reason there was an aversion to taking the southbound curve from Waterloo Road on to Lytham Road at Royal Oak - and almost all cars needing to access the Promenade via Royal Oak from the depot turned south on to Lytham Road as far as Station Road where they would reverse direction to head northwards towards Manchester Square. On one rare occasion I was witness to all of the 1960 restored fleet actually use the northbound curve at Royal Oak junction from Waterloo Road en route to Rigby Road Depot - quite by chance and thus captured each of the quartet on this possibly unique journey. When the Lytham Road route closed in 1961 the Marton service continued as far as Royal Oak terminus for one more year but without the summer season extension to South Pier as the junction and Lytham Road tracks had been tarred over. The overhead remained in place however from Station Road where there was a substation to provide power for the Marton service so the unusual sight of overhead wires but no tram track greeted passers by for a year or so. Below : Station Road crossover with two Standard cars just arrived from Marton Depot awaiting their turn to take up Promenade extra duties during the Illuminations 1960. The trolleypoles having been changed to the northbound Lytham Road overhead wire. Marton based trams (nearly all) were fitted with swivel head trolleywheels because of the many curves along the route. All Images : John Woodman

Watson Road stop with another Balloon car (253) heading for Cabin and a more familiar Brush car en route to Squires Gate terminus. Note the section breaker in the overhead complete with white band on the pole to signify to drivers the break in power at this point especially as this is also a tram stop.

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