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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Bye Bye Blundell Street

Forever a lingering remnant from the 1960s with its connecting single line track as far as the Promenade from the town's first tram depot - Blundell Street has morphed into a new housing development. Encompassing both the former gas and electricity power stations the site is now destined to become one more bland 'estate' with little if no recognition of its former importance in Blackpool's late 19th century transformation. Familiar to old transport enthusiasts for its infrequent special tram tours traversing past the red brick tram depot on to Princess Street and crossing over the Promenade - this part of the town's tramway heritage is fast disappearing.

Once seen as a critical alternative line for trams accessing the seafront in the event of Hopton Road or Lytham Road connections being severed for whatever reason - Blundell Streets single track was kept very much intact along with overhead wiring for many years. The redeployment of the current year round tram fleet to the seafront base at Starr Gate had obviated need for the Blundell Street and Foxhall link. Accordingly Council planning saw opportunity for entire reconfigueration of this area with demolition of period bed and breakfast style property along both Blundell Street and Tyldesley Road along with remnants of transport structures facing on to Rigby Road.

Half developed thus far, with original developers having run into financial difficulties, the Foxhall area housing scheme is being kicked back into action. New groundworks and utilities including large concrete pipes and sewer together with foundations for further residential properties have started to appear on the west side of Blundell Street and the entire street closed off to through traffic. The tram track running along it has been dug up in places to facilitate ongoing construction and will no doubt disappear entirely in coming months. The solitary remaining evidence of Blundell Street's tramway heritage has at least been appropriately conserved and was redeployed adjoining the current transport offices built in the 1930s.

Below : Looking south along what was Blundell Street with the site of the original tram depot on the left and rows of late 19th century housing on the right. The Transport Offices still stand proud in the near distance, but tramtrack access is inevitably being lost to the developer's grand scheme.

The Foxhall area still retains its late 19th century character with narrow streets and close knit community of bed and breakfast properties alongside private residential use. Venerable Public Houses of the same period continue in business much as before over a century or so - although of course the present stressful conditions caused by the Covid19 virus have for the time being brought trading to a halt.

Blundell Street as it is today looking due north to Princess Street (the line of facing property at the end where the track continues towards the promenade)

All Images : John Woodman May 9, 2020

No trams will again traverse Foxhall or rumble slowly along Princess Street, nor will bevys of intense camera wielding enthusiasts throng around this area observing the comings and goings of special tours or depot workings. A great deal has been lost as a result of the tramway's decline - and indeed the opportunity to create a worthwhile permanent museum and exhibition using the former depot building is very much Blackpool's loss as a resort. One or two attempts did take place over the years when Blundell Street Depot still stood - to give it a new lease on life as part of regenerating the Foxhall area overall. Sadly these came to nought. Below : Blundell Street Depot's Memorial - now fittingly sited alongside the remaining track connection from Hopton Road and next to the Transport Office block.

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