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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Waterside Footfall

Not the Knott End Ferry but somewhere just as exotic !

T3 Tramway signed at the Kadikoy subway line linking this Asian part of Istanbul with the European side

Could this be Talbot Road with light rail on the doorstep of nightlife cafes?

Above - exceptional wall mosaics on Istanbul's metro stations

The Fylde's coastline is a smorgasbord of urban development and ribbon of leisure experience for visitors. From the high tech avionics sector based on Warton to gentle green swathes fronting the Ribble estuary at Lytham with its especial shopping streets; the grandiose AKE scholastic hub nearby morph seamlessly into St Annes on the Sea - a purpose built seaside town built for Lancashire's industrial centres and their middle class visitors each summer.

Extended sandhills providently provide a discreet intervening barrier before Blackpool's southern districts mark the onset of pleasure pursuits aimed cat the masses arriving by train and coach from inland towns and cities. Three seaside piers, a dominant Lancashire version of the Eiffel Tower, and major thrill ride pleasure park provide the nucleus of a five mile coastal strip devoted to expectations of millions flocking to the Fylde coast each year. Loud, brash and entirely different from the norm of working lives in much of the north - the resort has managed to retain a popular allure for many needing a break away without the problematic negotiation of air travel's demands and conditions.

Edging further north the resident population takes over coastal views with repetitive housing aimed at retirees seeking fresh breezes with intermittent high winds in winter months. The busy commercial centre focussed on Cleveleys makes easy access to shops, cafes and services for residents and visitors alike. At Rossall the cluster of imposing Victorian college structures dominates a stretch of coastline before ever more housing marks the boundary of Fleetwood. The fishing port is a shadow of its former self, not even that one might say - but the physical residue of Fleetwood's once great era of cod, hake, and other fish species from the north Atlantic arriving daily on family owned trawler fleets - still remains.

The former chemicals and minerals extracted from the Fylde's rich hinterland have also left their mark with retention of industrial parks and sites now given over to business growth of a further century. Including recycling and energy resources discretely hidden. Fleetwood's fortunes and lingering decline can be seen in and around its waterfront with idle cranes, barren dockside and absence of vessels traversing their way in and out of Morecambe Bay.

The once busy railway bringing travellers to meet ferries to Ireland and Scotland is long gone, as are the ferries and commercial activity that once thrived in this northern most point

along the Fylde's coastlines.

Thankfully though the vistas and views facing on to Morecambe Bay and the peaks of the south Lakes remain - as do glimpses of the important nuclear submarine construction sheds in Barrow on Furness along with ever expanding wind farms stretching further into the Irish Sea. Evidence of growth and investment closeby.

Along all of this electric trams once traversed the entire coastline from Lytham to Fleetwood. A segment still remains thankfully, in ownership of Blackpool's Council and Corporation. Proposals to extend and build on this retained eleven mile tramway are gathering momentum with emphasis on clean electric power benefits and efficiencies among other assets brought to bear by capital infrastructure investment in light rail over buses. Blackpool Corporation had the foresight to hang on to its trams when all other urban centres discarded their own in a postwar rush to modernise their systems in favour of diesel buses. Now that the wheel is turning full circle with light rail aka trams once more being seen as an essential modernising component in regeneration and urban development - the potential for once more providing a coordinated transit network interconnecting communities around the Fylde - and potentially further with Warton, Kirkham, Preston is being taken seriously at several levels of local, regional and national government. Blackpool's own publicly controlled transport and light rail operator offers the logical platform to coordinate with others bringing about a Karlsruhe style tramway and tramtrain network across the Fylde.

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