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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Tribute To Doreen Lofthouse and Family

John Woodman

The death earlier this year of Doreen Lofthouse saw the town of Fleetwood lose its most stalwart supporter and benefactor. Through varied grants and donations the Lofthouse Family over the years have funded a lengthening list of material contributions to the town including creation of a permanent foundation - The Lofthouse Foundation. The Foundation supports projects and social programmes for the benefit of Fleetwood and the community.

Of particular relevance are financial contributions made to Blackpool Transport's heritage tram fleet. These involve funding the original conversion of a Brush car to an illuminated tram simulating the profile of a Fleetwood trawler - which had become the logo for the Lofthouse family's very successful cough and lozenge business 'Fisherman's Friend'. More recently the tram was further upgraded with new external lighting features again funded by the Lofthouse family.

The company's premises now extend along what was Copse Road and employ several hundred people locally and through distribution of its products worldwide. I well recall being on a business trip in Zurich in the 1990s and from my hotel window watched one of that city's immaculate blue and white trams pass in the street below with 'Fisherman's Friend' logo and advertising on the roof boards. Early on of course the company had more modest beginnings and its first commercial premises in Fleetwood involved the original Blackpool & Fleetwood Tramroad Company two track depot building alongside the North Euston Hotel. This became Fisherman's Friend's factory operation business success called for new and much larger premises which were established facing the tram tracks near to Lingfield Road.

Regrettably the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust established a decade ago has suffered from lack of inspiring support, or indeed meaningful interest, from the Local Authority - Wyre Council. Following decisions last year for redevelopment of the historic Fish Dock and Wyre Dock area on which the Trust had expended considerable time and effort to create a heritage transport attraction for its modest tram collection, it was decided to seek alternative 'homes' for individual cars held at Wyre Dock courtesy of ABP. The first of these was the move of a Trailer car to Rossall School for use as a special classroom - with the transfer taking place during the summer. A further expression of interest has been received from a Fleetwood business which might also now provide an appropriate alternative venue for one or more of its trams still at Wyre Dock and awaiting removal. Another interested Party has identified potential use for a further tram, one which has the potential for generating national coverage. The Trust also owns the complete set of electrical control panels used in the Tramroad Sub Station which was installed inside the original Copse Road Tram Depot after takeover of the company by Blackpool Tramways in 1920. These controlled the distribution of electric power on the overhead line from Thornton Gate all the way to the terminus at Fleetwood Ferry. A home is being sought for their display - ideally in Fleetwood,

Examples of the Lofthouse Family's devotion to the town can be found in the numerous structures and iconic features created over the past twenty five (or more) years. The most striking being the replica of the Eros statue in Piccadilly Circus which graces the roundabout leading to the town centre (and docks) on Amounderness Way. Fleetwood is of course famous in its own way for having had electric trams continuously running up and down its commercial centre ever since 1898. The only town in Britain able to claim such distinction, particularly in a new era of investment in electric powered urban transport. When Blackpool Corporation Tramways took over the original Fleetwood Tramroad company and its operation in 1920 it was decided that more 'modern' trams were needed for the important interurban service that connected Fleetwood with Blackpool's Talbot Road Railway Station - a distance of just over eight miles. The Corporation ordered ten 'Pullman' cars from English Electric Company, Preston and one of these is seen in the image appropriately at Fleetwood Ferry terminus complete with admiring young enthusiast shortly after entering service in 1928. The tram is showing 'B' for Blackpool. Fortunately two examples survive.

Image : Copyright : John Woodman Archive.


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