Blackpool Tramway History 1920 - 1932

Merger

In 1920, the Blackpool and Fleetwood company‚Äôs running rights expired and were taken over by Blackpool Corporation.   Blackpool Corporation inherited 8 miles of track between North Station and Fleetwood, 3 depots and Blackpool and Fleetwood's 41 trams of various types including, box cars and toastracks, many of these cars being the originals from when the tramroad opened.   The trams were renumbered into the Blackpool Corporation number scheme, with Box Cars 20-24 becoming 101-105, 14-19 becoming 106-111 and 38-41 becoming 112-115.   The Yanks were renumbered from 28-34 to 116-122.   The Vanguards were renumbered from 35-37 to 123-125 and the racks were renumbered from 1-10 to 126-135 and from 25-27 to 139 - 141.

In the early years following the merger, the services remained the same with the Corporation trams sticking to their original routes and the Blackpool and Fleetwood trams sticking to their original route. Despite this, the Corporation joined both systems together with a temporary connection at Gynn Square and a connection from North Station to the Layton route at Talbot Square.

By mid 1920, work began on enclosing the partially open sided Yanks to make them suitable for all year round service.   The body sides had 12 windows per side installed with paneling being added all along the lower body sides. 

It was winter 1922/23 before advantage was taken of the new connections between the systems.   The northbound track on Dickson Road was being relaid and rather than doing single line working, trams continued past North Station, onto Talbot Road down to the promenade then headed back northwards along the prom towards Gynn Square before regaining the usual route.
 

During 1923, the promenade along Princess Parade between Cocker Street and Gynn Square was widened with a cantilever structure, which allowed the creation of the Middle Walk and the tramway to be moved onto its own reservation and for a proper junction to be created with the tramroad.  A siding and crossover were installed on the curve at Gynn Square and with that and the laying of check rail through to Bispham, double deckers from the Promenade and from the Lytham Road ran through to Bispham for the first time.   To celebrate the opening of the new Princess Parade in 1924, 'De-Luxe' car 68 was decorated and illuminated.

Impressive new station buildings were built at Bispham, Little Bispham and Norbeck (Bispham and Little Bispham shelters are still in use today where as the Norbreck shelter was demolished in 2012), replacing small wooden or brick built shelters.   Further North, the track was moved onto a new alignment at Rossall to eliminate a sharp curve.

By 1923, the 'Motherwell' cars were in extremely poor condition and were in need of replacement.   From 1923-1928, a fleet of 42 Standard Cars were built, replacing the Motherwell and some of the Marton Cars.   The Standards were numbered from 28 - 177 and not numbered conscutively but by filling in spare numbers in the fleet and taking the numbers of the cars they were replacing.   Most of the Standard cars were built by the Corporation with a few built by Hurst Nelson in Motherwell.  One interesting fact about Standard Car 177, the final Standard, was that it was built to use up many of the spare parts gathered for the building of the fleet.   177 was also the last tram car built in house at Blackpool.

The introduction of Lytham St Annes Corporation's  'Pullman' double deckers with their luxurious interiors and leather seats in 1924 forced Blackpool Corporation to up their game and improve the conditions of the rather spartan interiors of their own double deckers with leather seating being fitted to the lower decks of the newly built Standard Cars.

In 1924 a major change in the track layout in Fleetwood saw the disconnection of the track to Bold Street Depot, which was subsequently closed.   The installation of a loop into Bold Street, along the esplanade at the Ferry, round onto Pharos Street past the lighthouse before rejoining the original route on Lord Street.   Copse Road depot closed as a running shed becoming the permanent way depot and yard for the system.


Sidings were built at Thornton Gate to receive coal wagons delivered by LNER. The coal wagons were hauled along the tramway by a small electric locomotive from a spur connecting the tramway to the railway line behind Copse Rd Depot in Fleetwood. The Electric Loco carried out this role until 1949 when the coal was delivered elsewhere, the loco then spent the next few years hauling the weedkiller truck and permanent way wagons up and down the line until 1963 when it was preserved. The electric Loco is now in use as a depot shunter at Crich Tramway Museum in Derbyshire.

Following the rewiring of the tramway between North Pier and Pleasure Beach in 1925 to allow for both fixed and swivel head trollied trams to operate on the section.   This allowed services to begin operating between Pleasure Beach and Fleetwood, initially only on weekdays in connection with the Isle of Man Ferry using some of the Fleetwood Box Cars.   It would be a couple of years before a full time Fleetwood - Pleasure Beach service operated. 

Due to the overwhelming popularity of the Circular Tour and Promenade tours, Blackpool Corporation took the decision to build 6 of their own Toastracks during 1927 to add to the 24 bought in previously.   Numbered 161 - 166, the Corporation build Toastracks had a shorter than expected passenger service life, with the outbreak of World War 2 in 1939 leading to a premature withdrawal from service.  


More new Trams

10 Pantograph cars were built for the North Station Route and delivered in 1928.  They operated between North Station and Fleetwood and also on short workings to Cleveleys all year round before being relegated to seasonal work upon the delivery of Railcoaches to operate the route in 1934.   

The Pantographs were distinctive by their high steps and flat fronts and large platforms, which made them look old before their time. These 10 Pantograph cars were unique in that they operated the route they were intended for when built and delivered, they only operated on the North Station Route and only ever strayed elsewhere on the odd private hire or tour and also when travelling to Rigby Road for repairs until they were withdrawn from service in 1961.   The fact that their destination blinds only contained destinations on the North Station route may have had a factor in this.     

The Pantographs got their name from their method of current collection. The 10 trams were unique at this time on the tramway for using pantographs for current collection rather than trolleys.   Not long after their introduction to service, the Pantographs received trolley poles as their pantographs caused havoc for the overhead line team who not only had to top up the grease trays, but also had to deal with problems caused by the grease being carried by other trams and ending up on overhead lines all over the system and even on the neighbouring Lytham St Annes Tramway.  

Further Expansion
Late in the 1920s the Promenade tramway was extended southwards, past the then terminus at Pleasure Beach for a mile along South Promenade out to Clifton Drive, which was one stop short of the current terminus at Starr Gate.   Later, a connection onto the Lytham St Annes tramway on Squires Gate Lane, towards Squires Gate and also connected the Promenade line to the St Annes Track.  

At the end of 1932, The Transport Department and the Electricity department were split into 2 seperate entities, Charles Furness, who was head of both sections, became head of the newly formed Electricity and Illuminations Department,  whilst a new head of Transport was appointed. This appointment would change the fortunes of the tramway and the fleet for many years to come......