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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Stanley Park - Best Green Space in England

Blackpool's green space - Stanley Park - received the nomination from a national charity this week as being the best park in England. Opened in 1926 Stanley Park was initially planned to be connected with Marton's tramway by a new branch off Whitegate Drive running into the park itself. However the Town Council had set its mind against further street tram expansion by that time and instead a small fleet of diminutive open 'toastrack' buses operated a shuttle service to the Park's main entrance from the Promenade.

A special 'Bus Station' was built into the entrance perimeter wall which is still in place but hidden by later concrete cladding. In fact it was merely a metal shelter with brickwork frontage. The initial fleet of Shelvoke & Drewry battery powered vehicles were replaced with larger open single deck buses by the late 1920s. These in turn gave way to the famous 'Gondola' buses with Burlingham streamline bodywork on Leyland chassis in 1935.

The park was conceived and built during the early 1920s partly as a means of providing work for unemployed labour, similarly to the town's parallel decision to build a new hospital in proximity (Victoria Hospital). This was urgently needed to improve on the original municipal hospital on Whitegate Drive. It should be remembered that provision of medical and healthcare facilities in those days was very much a localised issue with Blackpool also operating its own ambulances (serviced by the Tramways Department's new garage on Rigby Road).

Another Stanley Park thousands of miles away on the edge of the Pacific Ocean did actually secure a new tram service - in Vancouver. This included the provision of new PCC cars on the service utilising technology akin to that later introduced (postwar) on the Marton tram service which was the closest trams got in Blackpool to 'our' Stanley Park. It is reassuring that the efforts of volunteers working with the Council today to bring about renewal of this important 'green' asset is acknowledged nationally. Below : How visitors travelled to and from Stanley Park in the 1920s. A Shelvoke & Drewry open bus waits to depart from the Park Gates in a posed photograph. Not all of the passengers would seem to share in the delights of the day. Image : John Woodman Archive

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