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  • Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust

Rethinking Wyre Dock - 2020

The Trust has spent nearly eight years placing proposals for regeneration of Fleetwood's Wyre Dock to its current owners, Associated British Ports. Foremost in the proposals has been initiatives aimed at creating a rail connection into Fleetwood's former rail and port land with the moribund railway line leading to Poulton. An important element within several submissions has been establishment of a heritage transport visitor attraction using old trams acquired for this purpose through local business sponsors and private contributions.

Whilst the Trust together with its purpose formed platform (Wyre Dock Development) was successful in attracting the attention and interest of an important Chinese group considering a role in Fleetwood's regeneration - more recent structural and management changes within Associated British Ports have caused these initiatives to stall during 2019. As a consequence the visionary concept launched by WDD for a mixed use scheme has been put on hold whilst alternative options to utilise historic trams acquired since 2009 are being considered.

Our website for Wyre Dock Development will be taken down early January but 'Tramtalk' will continue with its updates on the disposition and further use of the trams held in Trust by the FHLT. Investigations into the success of heritage tram displays and integration in urban regeneration are ongoing in Dublin, New Orleans, Hamburg and New Zealand; whilst readers of this blog will be aware of due diligence we undertook this summer in Istanbul where two seperate historic tram lines play a vibrant role for tourism and residents alike in Taksim and Iskadoy (as well as a very popular transport museum privately developed by the Founder of Koc Industries alongside the Bosphorus).

Istanbul seemingly has got things right - transport heritage wise.

Blackpool is fortunate in having a surfeit of old trams, held in the Rigby Road Depot site, whilst others are retained by various local groups, including of course the FHLT. Providing seasonal rides for visitors (and enthusiasts) is a welcome adjunct to the resort's leisure offer, much like the traditional and much older landau. However a permanent display which tells the story of innovation from Blackpool's lead role with adoption of electric power for its principal promenade tram service awaits a sponsor and professional marketing management.

Former Hamburg tram depot now redesigned as a shopping centre with a symbolic example of the city's 1950s final tram design installed as a gourmet eatery? December 2019 Image copyright Jessica Meyer-Rassow.

It was hoped that the Wyre Dock site would host an interactive display covering the complementing (and equally important) story of Fleetwood's role in bringing about an enhanced electric tram service along the north Fylde coastline - mostly undeveloped in the 1890s. Our Trust is now examining alternative options which aid communities through year round jobs, apprentice training and educational programmes linked to energy technology.

Changes to Tramtalk format and content can be expected in the first quarter reflecting these objectives - and the continuing work of Rigby Road Publishing in recording local transport history and heritage.

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