As Publisher of books on Blackpool's tramway history it is always a pleasure to record the work of fellow Authors specialising in the same field (or is it tramroad)? Having purchased a copy of Brian Turner's latest book 'Stopping Car to Fleetwood' last weekend - I have to praise the diligence which he has pursued over years to record the origins and operations of the Blackpool & Fleetwood Tramroad Company.
The fascinating tale of how private investors with links to the Isle of Man came to develop one of the country's most profitable electric tramways along the north Fylde coastline - makes captivating reading. Having known at firsthand only towards the final years of the Fleetwood to Blackpool North Station service in its later years of operation I can at least recall the flavour of this 'back street' tram route into Blackpool; together with lingering relics and remnants at Copse Road, Rossall Siding and Thornton Gate yard. Of especial relevance in 2019 is our ownership of the very last service tram to make the journey from North Station to Fleetwood in October 1963. Number 290 in the ownership of the FHLT now waiting to be prepared for return of the North Station to Fleetwood tram service - whenever this finally occurs.
Blackpool & Fleetwood 'Rack' 2 in its 1960s condition on an enthusiast tour with hectic activity at the terminus end of the North Station line from Fleetwood - not dissimilar to scenes from the very early years of the link but with far more voluminous and formal attire of those days. Image : John Woodman
Brian's focus is very much on the Company years and subsequent Corporation takeover - with considerable detail and background on the personalities responsible for this tramway enterprise par excellence. A spiffing read which fills out previous accounts and coverage. We are promised similar coverage of the less fortunate parallel schemes and operation along the south fylde coastline from Lytham into Blackpool - and look forward to a similarly insightful tome. The fascinating triage of tramway links which came together (somewhat awkwardly) at the Gynn being especially noteworthy ; given that the location is today just a bland anonymous stop along the eleven mile service between Fleetwood and Blackpool's southern boundary with Fylde Borough.
The Fylde coast was blessed with having three electric tram systems along much of its seafront length in the formative days up to 1919. Each having remarkably different characteristics and contrasting operating styles. Inevitably two were merged into a single system through initiatives of an enterprising Blackpool Mayor; whilst the third was later barred from similarly following suit through blinkered snobbery of a less endowed local politician. The consequences of the latter being felt to the present day, with seemingly eternal need for transferring passengers from trams to buses at the barren windswept road crossing we familiarly know as 'Starr Gate'. This would never have been allowed to continue in Europe where transport infrastructure and services are foremostly kept in the hands of professionals - and politicians kept at arms length (justifiably so).
'Stopping Car to Fleetwood' is highly recommended for all transport (read - tramway) enthusiasts with a penchant for the history of this everlasting line.
This Author at the controls of B&F 'Box' 40 on one of its final private tours before departure to Beamish Museum and its home at the National Tramway Museum in Derbyshire in 2019.