Still Standing! Marton Depot, Blackpool

Every Monday throughout February sees the return of the popular “Still Standing” series as we look at old tram structures which are still in existence today. In this edition we are off to Blackpool as we take a look at one of the old tram depots on the inland routes at Marton.

The Marton route in Blackpool first opened in 1901 running from Talbot Square to Central Drive by way of Clifton Street, Church Street, Whitegate Drive, Waterloo Road and Central Drive. A year later there was a link added to the Lytham Road route at Royal Oak to allow services to run through to what we know as South Pier today. After the Central Drive route was closed in 1936 tram services on the Marton route ran between Talbot Square and Royal Oak/South Pier. That was until 28th October 1962 when the Marton route was closed for the very last time.

To house trams for the service a new depot was constructed on Whitegate Drive, known simply as Marton Depot. Opened in 1901 as an 8 track depot it was extended at the rear 11 years later and would remain in a similar configuration for the rest of its career. As a sign of the times in which it was built its fan was located on the main road outside. The depot was not only used to house trams for Marton services but also as storage for other trams out of season. Closed with the end of services on the Marton route it was used to scrap redundant trams and after that was sold on for further use. A petrol station was built at the front with the rear of the building still standing today in industrial use.

The site of Marton Depot with the petrol station now in situ.

One of the surviving sections of the old depot building, now in industrial use.

Another angle of the remaining old depot. (All Photographs by Tony Armitage, 22nd August 2021)

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3 Responses to Still Standing! Marton Depot, Blackpool

  1. geoffcurrie says:

    Was on the last public tram on the route – along with 77 others!

  2. Michael Morton says:

    A much better view, that actually looks like a tram depot is afforded from Wren Grove – the old staff entrance just off Preston Old Road. Little has changed since 1962 when on a cold, wet evening, I stood, four years old, with my father watching adults crying as the last trams entered the depot with two new Leyland PD3s from the 351-370 batch waiting on the forecourt to take dignataries back to the Town Hall as the staff celebrated a wake inside the depot.
    But, for weeks after, trams were ferried back to Hopton Road and Blundell Street via Whitegate Drive, Church Street, Abingdon Street and Clifton Street to access the Promenade. They would be operated with a driver and conductor and many was the time that the tram would stop at Woodland Grove stop and, after a furtive look from the conductor to see that nobody important was watching, my mum and me, along with other intending customers for the 26 bus, got a free ride into town, alighting on Abingdon Street so that the Talbot Square Promenade inspector would be none the wiser.
    It was referred to as the route that refused to die because behind all of the scrapping of trams, including the prototype railcoach, 200 and the VAMBAC railcoach, 208 as well as all but two of the Marton VAMBACS, and the one-off Brush VAMBAC, 303, there were trams in there that were required including two balloons.
    I watched with my mother early in 1963 as the two balloons were collected and driven along Whitegate Drive with the wind blowing the accumulated dust from the rooves giving the impression that they were on fire!
    Of course, in the Spring of 1963, the Western Train ferried Cliff Richard to the opening of the new ABC theatre and cinema and, after the celebrations, the tram returned wrong way round to the Promenade and the wires came down within days, just as they had south of Marton depot the day after the closure and tarmac began to cover the tracks. All very sad to a small boy who went on to be an avid tram enthusiast especially when the irony dawned later in life that MARTON spelt backwards is, of course, NO TRAM!!!

  3. geoffcurrie says:

    Brilliant story Michael. Whilst I am sure other people have over the years picked up on the Marton ” palindrome” ( I know it isn’t one!), I hadn’t.

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