Blackpool and Fleetwood Tramroad 1898 - 1920

In the early 1890’s ,Blackpool and Fleetwood were totally different to what they are now.   North of Uncle Toms Cabin, the coastal area between Blackpool and Fleetwood was mainly covered in farmland punctuated by what was then the small hamlets of Bispham, Norbreck and Anchorsholme and the small town of Cleveleys before.   The arrival of the railways around half a century earlier meant that travel was possible between the two towns.   However not only was the service infrequent, but also travel between the 2 towns meant a change of trains at Poulton-Le-Fylde.

Plans were afoot for a tramroad, similar to that of the Manx Electric Railway, recently built at the time on the Isle of Man to connect the 2 towns along the coast.   John Cameron was employed as a consultant and in 1895, walked the proposed route of the new tramway several times and began to make plans of the route.   John Cameron would eventually become head of the Blackpool and Fleetwood Tramroad Company.

The route, which would begin at Bold Street in Fleetwood, would travel through Fleetwood Town Centre along West Street (now Lord Street), passing Broadwater, Rossall School, Cleveleys, Anchorsholme, Little Bispham, Norbreck, Bispham, Uncle Toms Cabin, The Gynn, before taking Dickson Road and terminating at Talbot Road near to North Station.

Construction of the new tramway began on 19th July 1897 at the Fleetwood end of the line and moved at a quick pace towards Blackpool. Cuttings were dug at Bispham and Cabin for the tramway and on what is now Red Bank Road in Bispham for the new depot. 

Three depots were built on the tramway, one at Bold Street in Fleetwood, this would be used to house the first and last 2 cars from Fleetwood, another at Copse Road in Fleetwood, which would store the open sided trams during the winter and be used as a Permanent Way Depot.   Copse Road also had a connection to the main railway line into Fleetwood.   The other depot was, Bispham Depot, on Red Bank Road, this was to be the main depot for the running fleet and for maintenance.   Bispham Depot had its own power station to generate the electricity required to run the trams.

Originally, the plan was for the tramroad to continue along the front at the Gynn, heading along what is now the north Promenade towards the Corporation tramway at Cocker Street.   However Blackpool Corporation had ambitions of extending their tramway to Gynn Square and the Blackpool and Fleetwood tramroad was diverted inland along Dickson Road instead. Right from the start, the tramroad was operated by electricity and most of the line was double track except for the Dickson Road stretch, which was single line with passing places.   At both ends of the line, double crossovers were supplied to allow for trailer operation. Station buildings were built at key locations on the line, including at Bispham, Norbreck, Cleveleys and Rossall.  

On 16th April 1898, some members of the local council in Fleetwood were taken on a trial run along the tramroad, hauled by a steam loco and the journey being made in open wagons.

NumberBuiltTypeBuilt by NumberBuiltTypeBuilt By
11898Fleetwood RackGF Milnes 211899Box CarGF Milnes
21898Fleetwood RackGF Milnes 221899Box CarGF Milnes
31898Fleetwood RackGF Milnes 231899Box CarGF Milnes
41898Fleetwood RackGF Milnes 241899Box CarGF Milnes
51898Fleetwood RackGF Milnes 251899CrossbenchGF Milnes
61898Fleetwood RackGF Milnes 261899CrossbenchGF Milnes
71898Fleetwood RackGF Milnes 271899CrossbenchGF Milnes
81898Fleetwood RackGF Milnes 281899YankUEC Preston
91898Fleetwood RackGF Milnes 291899YankUEC Preston
101898Fleetwood RackGF Milnes 301899YankUEC Preston
111898TrailerGF Milnes 311899YankUEC Preston
121898TrailerGF Milnes 321899YankUEC Preston
131898TrailerGF Milnes 331899YankUEC Preston
141898Box CarGF Milnes 341899YankUEC Preston
151898Box CarGF Milnes 351910VanguardUEC Preston
161898Box CarGF Milnes 361910VanguardUEC Preston
171898Box CarGF Milnes 371910VanguardUEC Preston
181898Box CarGF Milnes 381914Box CarUEC Preston
191898Box CarGF Milnes 391914Box CarUEC Preston
201899Box CarGF Milnes 401914Box CarUEC Preston
      411914Box CarUEC Preston

For the opening of the Tramway, 10 crossbench rack trams (numbered 1-10) were delivered, along with 3 crossbench trailers (numbered 11-13).   As the trams were open sided, they were really only suitable for summer use.   Six enclosed Box trams (numbered 14-19), with heating and suitable for all year round use, were delivered during the Autumn of 1898 with a further 5 (numbered 20-24) arriving during early 1899.

The tramroad officially opened on July 14th 1898, with crossbench 4 being the first tram from Fleetwood – Gynn Square.   Such was the volume of passengers wanting to experience the new tramway that trams were packed full and the timetable abandoned to try and deal with the demand.    

Trailer operation was tried out during the early days of the tramroad, however it was soon abandoned due to a couple of accidents at the termini, the length of time taken to run round and the inflexibility of the operation.   The trailers were stored for a time, before having their underframes lengthened and being converted to motor trams.   The route between Gynn Square and Talbot Road opened after the rest of the route as the streets needed widening to allow vehicles to pass the trams.

The building of the tramroad had added effects to Blackpool, Fleetwood and the smaller towns and villages in its path, as they began to grow. Eventually, all the farm land from Cabin up to Cleveleys disappeared with houses, hotels and shops replacing it.

By Easter 1899, an additional 3 crossbench cars numbered 25 - 27 and 7 composite trams built by United Electric Company in Preston are delivered, known as Yanks, the trams were numbered 28-34.

In 1910, a further 3 Vanguards, built by UEC in Preston and numbered 35-37 joined the fleet.   The final cars to join the fleet were 4 Box Cars numbered 38-41, which arrived in 1914.  

Following the expiry of the 21 year lease of the Blackpool portion of the track, Blackpool Corporation bought out the Tramroad company, with the Tramroad becoming part of the Corporation tramway network.