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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Every Four Minutes

John Woodman

Through pressures on driver availability, fuel and overall operating costs today's bus and tram schedules are far less agreeable than those in the days of Blackpool Corporation Transport and seemingly becoming even more constrained in winter timetables. And this is despite the lengthening Illuminations calendar which has taken over the town's autumnal rituals to seemingly attract a continuing influx of visitors in what are abysmal weather conditions.

This is all a far cry from the halcyon days of yore in the resort when 6, 8, 10 minute intervals marked the frequency of many services, with the Promenade tramway meriting trams on three overlapping routes, Squires Gate, North Station and the seafront service to Starr Gate. The daddy of them all was the Marton tram service whose incessant pace matched the continuing demand along its route from Royal Oak to Blackpool's town centre in Abingdon Street and Talbot Square. A tram every four minutes meant a constant flow around Whitegate Drive and along Waterloo Road.

Below : Accessing the Promenade from Talbot Square - a Marton Depot railcoach taking up duty. A scene to be repeated in the not too distant future with the North Station service requiring similar workings against traffic. Photo : John Woodman

Summer extension of the service from Royal Oak to South Pier via Lytham Road and Station Road provided further working for every third car from Talbot Square, whilst the Transport Department's onetime revenue goldmine - the Circular Tour, added even more trams circumnavigating the Marton route in the summer season. School Specials using Balloon cars in the morning peak were an added feature, as were depot workings of double deck trams from Marton's capacious depot on Whitegate Drive to gain access to the Promenade usually via Talbot Square and its connecting track.

They would then augment the seafront service under the direction of traffic inspectors posted at the Pleasure Beach and Central Station (which had a third track for this purpose).

Below : A Marton Vambac bound for Preston (or so it seems) with the assistance of the Points Boy stationed at Royal Oak on the northbound side of the three way junction. Image : John Woodman Archive


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