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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Blundell Street Depot Site Clearance

John Woodman

Blackpool's first tram depot on Blundell Street would and indeed should have become a world class tram exhibition sited as it was in the Foxhall district of central Blackpool. The single track connecting the depot's north entrance to the Promenade was along Princess Street and itself a historic remnant of the town's original tramway from 1885. A second entrance to the depot structure was created during the 1960s to allow tram (and other vehicle access) directly from across Rigby Road. Blackpool's municipally run ambulance service utilised the northern section of the depot interior with a woodframed partition built to seperate the transport department's usage from that of the ambulance fleet. Unfortunately strong gale force winds caused the partition to dislodge along with a small mid section of the roof structure which in turn saw the building being condemned on health and safety reasons. Both ambulances and the sizeable number of redundant or stored trams were then relocated elsewhere while the building itself was demolished leaving only the tram tracks as evidence of its former use.

These were very much in plain view when the entire depot site became a car park - and remained so up to the Council decision to sell the land for inevitable housing redevelopment. This included the retained red brick premises which formerly housed the Mayoral car and associated items across from the Transport Department offices. With contractors engaged in clearing the brownfield site which included land formerly hosting a gasometer and foundry building - the chance to see closeup the 'undercroft' of the depot and its extensive tram track allowed the writer with Colin MacLeod to examine and record this passing phase of Blackpool's history. Blundell Street Depot in fact was converted (in part) to produce artillery shells in the Great War (along with many other machining venues up and down the country). A hidden stock of shell casings from this era became visible as contractors excavated the ground level nearest to Rigby Road - causing immediate closure of the area and evacuation of the Transport Offices and nearby boarding houses along Blundell Street. A sample souvenir shell casing was presented by the Contractors along with a pick of excavated tram rail and points. The tram rail was then delivered to the Wyre Dock site for storage and intended for use in the proposed Fleetwood tram museum and collection of acquired trams by the FHLT.

An amazing tangle of extracted track sections removed from Blundell Street Depot. These included point sections from the southern end of the depot interior. The brick wall in the background is the eastern side of what was once the Tramways Department Foundry used for metal casting of sewer gratings, promenade fencing posts and all manner of municipal street fixtures.

Some ten years later the same tram rail from Blundell Street Depot, along with at least two of the trams acquired for the Fleetwood Museum project at Wyre Dock, are being made available to a worthwhile tram heritage museum near to Lowestoft.

Colin MacLeod explains the significance of the scrap metal (rail) load just delivered to the FHLT at Wyre Dock. More was to follow on the contractor's haulage truck - below

The exposed undercroft of Blundell Street Depot's south facing end with Rigby Road and the Transport Offices directly opposite. It was here that a large cache of First World War artillery shell casings was found. The Transport Manager's office is on the third floor far right hand corner! From Walter Luff in 1933 to Jane Cole in 2022.

All Images taken by John Woodman


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