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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Next Stop - Wilkos !

Contractors are now immensely busy completing track installation on Talbot Road. Work is also beginning on preparing ground for the double track junction leading into Talbot Square from the Promenade tramway. However the most impressive activity presently underway is directly in front of the entrance to the Wilko property on the corner of Dickson Street and Talbot Road. Ironically this was the site of the original North Station (or as it was first called 'Talbot Road Station') terminal building with red brick frontage and elegant Edwardian arched glass canopy interior. What an immense heritage prize this would have been if saved from demolition to be replaced by the grim concrete 'Lubyanka' edifice which still remains a blot on the town centre landscape.

The groundwork being completed this week shows the planned track curve from Talbot Road and onto the site of the Wilko property. Track installation is likely to happen very quickly indeed ahead of the Christmas period. However there is now doubt over the actual sale and demolition of the Wilko property according to one of the workers on site today - and possibly an extended delay until this is resolved. Consequently it may transpire that a crossover will be installed immediately to the west of the Dickson Road

junction so that an interim tram service terminating at an initial onstreet stop may well become necessary given that the rest of the tram extension is completed and wired next year. But this is purely personal conjecture on my part and requires an amount of salt to be in evidence.

The scene directly infront of the Wilko business entrance where tram tracks are soon to be installed on the concrete base well advanced and extending to the limits of the timber sections immediately in front of the camera. Who would ever have thought such a thing ?

A reminder of days when trams ran along Talbot Road whilst preparations are well underway to prepare the concrete platform on which the new Talbot Road tramway will curve onto a reserved pedestrian area after the abominable Wilko structure is finally demolished and ground cleared.

Blackpool Council's newbuild conference venue well under construction with part of the Winter Gardens Olympia complex in the background.

Elsewhere in the town centre steel work is being erected off Leopold Street where the town's new conference centre is being constructed to abut the Winter Gardens and Opera House complex. Similarly construction is underway on the former Palatine Hotel site latterly 'Sands' venue and soon to be a new luxury multi storey hotel; whilst ground clearance and drilling is ongoing on the former Yates Wine Lodge property where a further new hotel will be constructed over the next year. Blackpool certainly will have a core offer of national brand hotels by 2020 as the Wilko site development includes provision for a further hotel alongside Blackpool North tram terminus. A big improvement for visitors - now if only the town centre retail ambience and public space could be similarly uplifted. Images today by John Woodman

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