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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

That Marton Tram Service

John Woodman

Of all the tram services around Blackpool (in days of yore) the fast and frequent line from Talbot Square via Church Street, Whitegate Drive and Waterloo Road is probably the most memorable. It had the distinction of being (by a few weeks) the very last all street running tram service in the UK, with Glasgow's Service 9 from Dalmuir West to Auchenshuggle closing a month previously; and was unique in Blackpool in avoiding the Promenade entirely.

With its very own tram depot, built on Whitegate Drive and boasting a track fan in the roadway the Marton service also had the distinction of being the only British tram service in postwar years (and before light rail emerged) to be operated with modern tram equipment (even if the cars were upcycled versions from 1939). My fellow enthusiast Colin MacLeod had the great benefit of living next to the tramway on Whitegate Drive with an inevitable tendency to photograph passing cars from his bedroom window. The service also provided a summer season extension involving the trams negotiating two junctions onto and off Lytham Road. This provided the rare sight of all three types of Blackpool rail coaches running alongside each other, albeit for the short distance between Station Road and Royal Oak. The service also 'boasted', if that is the right term, School Special workings involving double deck cars to help handle the crowds of schoolchildren traversing to and from their homes to several schools located in proximity to the tramway.

Whilst all other tram services benefitted from operation of Walter Luff's streamline trams as they entered service from 1934 - the Marton route was consigned to continuing with Blackpool's traditional double deck 'Standards' up to the end of the 1940s and early '50s'. These included several of the open balcony type most favoured by boistrous passengers on journeys home. In fact I believe Blackpool may have been the very last British tramway to operate open balcony trams in regular service, but this 'honour' probably falls to warm and sunny Aberdeen of all places.

Colin was diligent in photographing scenes on and around the tramway in its final years, and in particular had a foible of accessing rooftop locations from which to capture many unique images. I on the other hand kept firmly to the terra firma. We both however were privileged to gain frequent access inside Marton Depot allowing us to record varying scenes right up to and including the months of tram scrapping following closure of the service in 1962. Being bright and airy Marton Depot was nirvana to youthful enthusiasts; compared to the darkened confines at Bispham.

Photos Below taken by Colin MacLeod - all copyright :

Bright and warm sunshine for this driver heading towards the Oxford on Waterloo Road :

Below : A Balloon on a Schools Extra working being partly blanked by a Crosse & Blackwell delivery van,

Whitegate Drive near Hornby Road with a rail coach heading towards Marton and a Marton Vambac car (or two) coming inbound. Note the painted over metal beading on the tram side and ventilators above the saloon windows.


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