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Blackpool to Fleetwood Tramway (1898)
from Starr Gate, Blackpool, Lancashire (to Ferry Terminal, Fleetwood)
Blackpool to Fleetwood Tramway (1898)
associated engineer
Garlick & Sykes
date  19th July 1897 - 1st July 1898
era  Victorian  |  category  Tramway/Funicular  |  reference  SD305318
ICE reference number  HEW 631
photo  Paul Dunkerley
Blackpool is inextricably linked to tramway history in Britain. Horse trams appeared in the UK in 1860 and steam trams in the late 1870s. But it's the electric tramway that put Blackpool on the tram map. The Blackpool to Fleetwood line, which still runs today, incorporates the 1885 line along The Promenade, Britain's first electric street tramway.
The Blackpool to Fleetwood line (1898) was built by the Blackpool & Fleetwood Tramroad Company Ltd and designed by Garlick & Sykes of Preston. It ran from Blackpool North Station to the Ferry Terminal at Fleetwood. It follows much the same route today, though it has been extended at the Blackpool end and now incorporates the earlier line.
Work commenced on 19th July 1897 at the northern end, in Fleetwood. Here, the one kilometer (1,140 yards) street section was laid using 83 lb/yard grooved rail. The section between Ash Street, Fleetwood, and the then boundary of Blackpool (near King Edward Avenue) was laid using 56 lb/yard Vignoles rails, spiked directly into creosoted redwood sleepers embedded on ballast. The rails were bonded using Daniel ‘plastic’ bonds imported from the USA. Brick station buildings were provided at key stops along the route.
Between Anchorsholme and Gynn Square in Blackpool, cuttings up to 5m deep were made through sand dunes or the tops of earth cliffs. Six barrel culverts and ten level crossings were also built. Between the then Blackpool boundary and Gynn Square, 300m of paved reservation were constructed.
Work on the street tramway between Gynn Square along Dickson Road to Blackpool North Station began 1st November 1897. Here the steepest gradient of 1:26.5 is encountered as the line rises up from Gynn Square. Parts of this 1.4km section used ungrooved Vignoles rails. Other parts used 98 lb/yard grooved rail. Electrification was via overhead cables.
The Blackpool Corporation took over the line when the Blackpool & Fleetwood Tramroad Company’s lease expired in 1892.
The 1885 Promenade tramway, designed by Michael Holroyd Smith for the Blackpool Corporation, ran for two miles south from Talbot Square. It used Smith's patent underground conduit system for its electrical supply, which proved inadequate for the sandy environment. The Corporation changed the line to overhead cables in 1898. This line was extended to Gynn Square in 1900 but did not join the Blackpool to Fleetwood tramway system until 1925.
Other sections of tramway were laid around Blackpool too. The Blackpool & Lytham line opened on 11th July 1896. It ran south from Starr Gate along Clifton Drive. A track was laid along Lytham Road, Blackpool, in 1897 (closed in October 1961). Another line, running from Talbot Square to Marton, commenced construction on 19th November 1900. Blackpool's Clifton Street ‘cut-off’ was built in April 1902, and a line in South Shore, running from the Waterloo Hotel to the Royal Oak, opened in August that same year.
Services also operated from Blackpool Central station to South Pier via Royal Oak, and from Talbot Square to South Pier via Marton. Before its final closure on 28th October 1962, this was Britain’s last all-street tramway. The Layton route opened on 13th June 1902 but was converted to to a bus route in 1936. The routes along Station Road and Squires Gate Lane closed in October 1961.
The tram service today runs from Starr Gate at Blackpool's southern boundary, 17.9km north to the Ferry Terminal at Fleetwood. It is all double track with some additional track at a few stations and a roundabout at either end. Additional roundabouts are found at Pleasure Beach and Little Bispham. The service operates throughout the year, and for many years it was the only remaining tramway service on mainland Britain.
Research: PD
bibliography
"Seven Golden Miles" by K. Eyre, Dalesman Books, Clapham, 1975
"Last Marton Tram – Illustrated Souvenir" 28th October 1962
"75 Years of Electric Street Tramway Operation" Blackpool Corporation, 1960
"The Conduit Tramways of Blackpool 1885-1899" by D.F. Phillips
Tramway Review, Vol.3, No.21, 1956
reference sources   CEH North
Location

Blackpool to Fleetwood Tramway (1898)