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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Sixty Years Ago - 1962 The Last Marton Trams

John Woodman

October 1962 saw the replacement of Marton's all street tram service by a new 26 Bus route running from Talbot Square to South Pier via Royal Oak. The final weeks saw numerous special trams hired by various enthusiast groups with locals treated to sudden bursts of activity by camera toting men diverging from unfamiliar trams to record one of many special workings. Marton's tramway held a unique place in the annals of Blackpool's transport history by being the only tram service which did not use the promenade line at any point, and being the only all-street running route *(Layton's short shuttle service from Talbot Square to Layton Cemetery similarly shared this distinction but was replaced by buses in 1936 along with the other street running service from Talbot Square to Central Station via Central Drive). Having its own imposing depot sited on Whitegate Drive the service was operated by a long familiar team of drivers and conductors based there and knowledgeable about their 'regulars' along the line.

Marton 'Standard' 48 seen here recently in Portland at the Oregon Trolley Museum having been repainted in a rendering of its final livery complete with white 'wartime' fenders. Photo John Woodman Archive.

Much public support was given to retention of the tram service but the volume of road traffic and problems facing the trams gaining access to Talbot Sqiare's island terminus - meant demise of the trams was inevitable. Unlike the closure of Lytham Road's tram service to Squires Gate in the previous year (1961) when public apathy prevailed on the final night of that service, the Marton tramway was recognised as a valued asset to the local community with crowds attending the last trams arriving at the depot. The Council was prevailed upon to give its recognition of the closure by arranging for the two illuminated Standard cars and open balcony 40 to operate the last official journey from Talbot Square to Marton Depot, while depot staff substituted Standard Car 48 for the final service car to Royal Oak, returning to the Depot. Fortunately number 48 would be preserved by a US west coast museum and kept in operating condition (see above);

The writer, together with fellow enthusiast Colin MacLeod, arranged for number 48 to carry recognition of its role on this last journey by affixing a wreath to the westward facing end of the car and adding handwritten notices. Determined to be on the last tram from Royal Oak both were accorded informal chance to drive the car on short sections of Waterloo Road - Colin being set on a record breaking run around the Spen Corner curve, fortunately without untoward incident!

Marton Depot was to close as a running shed on that final night and depot staff with tram crews held a private 'wake' inside to commemorate loss of a reliable and friendly tramway. Souvenirs from the depot were quietly made available, including the depot roster sheets for the final week of service along with the depot's single line working red baton. These will become part of the 'Tram Town' museum display in due course - hopefully within a section devoted to this famous service and its many idiosyncracies - most now fading from living memory. Among these of course were the long lived 'Goldola' bus 118 modified as a wartime 'canteen' which was a feature at the very rear of the depot tracks: the 'foreign' resident in the form of Southampton 45 given sancturary through the good offices of Walter Luff; the various rows of withdrawn Corporation buses awaiting removal by contractors - always on the southern side of the depot; and the various individual scrapping of trams in later years. Just one of the excellent Marton 'Vambac' cars managed to evade this fate by being claimed for a scheme on Hayling Island to which number 11 was despatched. On termination of that brave proposal the tram was secured for preservation by the East Anglia Transport Museum at Carlton Colville, where it joined fellow Marton Depot inmate Standard Car 159 - restored to its postwar condition. Both now operating for public service.

The special illustrated book on the Marton Tramway from 1902 to 1962 is still available in limited quantity from Rigby Road Publications priced £29.00 - orders can be taken online from the Shop Page on this site.


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