• John Woodman

Pub Signs

John Woodman


Blackpool has plenty of pubs - the more famous being the Number 3 at Devonshire Square and of course the now lost landmarks 'The Oxford' and 'Yates Wine Lodge'. Local licensed premises have a habit of morphing into something new - take the once notable 'Red Lion' on Devonshire Road which has become a ho-hum branch of a hotel brand.


Two drinking venues still with us however, with local transport links are on Talbot Road - 'The New Road' which derives its name from the then new roadway built to Layton Cemetery from the town centre - and for lack of a formal name was simply called 'New Road'. In actual fact it was built to provide a pathway for the new Layton tram service running from Talbot Square to Layton Cemetery in 1902. Originally the service terminus was simply stated as 'Cemetery' but residents and regular travellers took exception to having to ride on the 'Cemetery' car every time they went home. The original public house is long gone replaced by a later version sited opposite what was originally the Goods Yard and Depot of the Lancashire and Yorkshire (later LMS) railway.

No tramline in this artist's rendition of the earlier signage. A single track Layton line ran along New Road.


Oxford Hotel dominated the Marton tramway as it turned westbound from Whitegate Drive. An imposing brick building with former stables and ancillary structures its function as a public house faded in the postwar era until following several owners it was demolished entirely. It was notable for being the location at which the enterprising owner took formal group photos of riders on the popular Circular Tour toastrack cars. Tens of thousands of these period postcards would wend their way to homes and relatives (and friends) in northern industrial towns. Some would feature by way of background a passing service tram running towards Royal Oak thus enhancing the image along with a cross section of attire of passengers young and old, male and female. The Oxford also boasted a tramway crossover in front of its premises as well as being a destination on tramcar linen blinds (although no services ever ran specifically to that point on the Marton route).


Lytham Road trams passed several pubs along the mainly commercial stretch between Royal Oak and Manchester Square - indeed both points being named for prominent licensed establishments to the present day. One pub - the Old Bridge Inn - sited close to the junction with Bloomfield Road was owned by a Blackpool Council Member formerly Chairman of the Transport Committee. In a remake of the pub signage during the 1980s it was provided with a rendition of Blackpool Football Club stadium on Bloomfield Road and a passing Corporation bus of the 1950 streamline variety. The only instance I know of (at least in Blackpool) of a bus being featured on a pub sign. The famous pub on Red Bank Road which once was next to both Bispham's Tram Depot and the terminus of the 15A Bus Service to Victoria Hospital was given a new pub sign featuring a 'Balloon' car. Hardly an appropriate feature given that this type of tram never operated from the depot which was limited to single deck trams. A 'Pantograph Car' or 'Brush Car' would have been more appropriate.

Bloomfield Road (old ground) features along with the myriad railway sidings and Central Motive Power Depot in the background as a 1950s Burlingham bus passes across the bridge. Both Images by John Woodman

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