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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Balloon Cars along Lytham Road

In this century the sight of Blackpool's 1930s double deck trams is confined to the handful of preserved examples able to operate on heritage and special tour service along the the Promenade. For those of us with long memories it was a far more engaging experience to traverse the almost dead straight tram journey along Lytham Road to its junction with Squires Gate Lane - on the upper deck of one of these cars in season. Whilst devoid of the sinuous curves along the Marton line, Squires Gate bound trams were noteworthy for traversing the three way junction and Royal Oak, and its turnout on to Station Road as well as the surge of power as drivers notched up to gain the crest of Skew Bridge which took Lytham Road over the busy main line that brought frequent trains of all kinds into Blackpool's South and Central Stations. A couple of instances below :

Lytham Road had several crossovers with the first being close to the Promenade at Manchester Square. Another was sited just past the road junction with Bloomfield Road but rarely used except for tours and in emergencies. Yet a further crossover was positioned just before Skew Bridge incline - originally located to provide a terminus for inbound trams from Lytham and St Annes where they connected with Blackpool's truncated service at that point.

The busiest and most frequently used crossover was to be found at Highfield Road. This offered a shortened journey southbound avoiding the dwell time a quarter mile further south at the Squires Gate terminus. Summer extras would frequently terminate here before heading back north with one example above having its trolleypole changed before reversing on the crossover to head back to 'Cabin' - as seen here.

Note the shop window awnings providing shade for the displays (and prospective customers).

The impressive sight of these cars along an otherwise traffic free main road was forever memorable. Here the Tower offers its landmark status for northbound passengers.

Highfield Road stop south of the junction with passengers having had a very short ride from Squires Gate terminus.

Balloon cars were not the only double deck trams to run along Lytham Road. Standards could be seen on Promenade 'Extras' also running to Highfield Road and returning northbound as seen here.

And again with two examples on short workings to Central Station sandwiching a service car in close proximity (even on handbrakes). Approaching Royal Oak junction from Station Road in this photo.

A regular event requiring Balloon cars were the Home Matches of Blackpool Football Club at Bloomfield Road. Just before the final whistle extra workings of these cars in both directions were timed to catch the surge of homebound fans. This worked well unless the match went into extra time. The resulting traffic buildup is understandable.

Three examples caught at Bloomfield Road with queues building up on the northbound stop.

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