A lot has been written over the years about the railways of Blackpool & the Fylde. This is my own modest account.
The map below shows the network of railways in the west of Lancashire in the summer of 1964. Preston is in the bottom-right-hand corner. The West Coast Main line from London Euston to Glasgow Central passes through Preston on a north-south axis. The area to the west of the line is known as the Fylde, and it is almost all totally flat fertile farming land.
The Fylde coast, less than 20 miles to the west of Preston, has the main resort of Blackpool at its centre. The fishing port of Fleetwood is to the north and the seaside town of Lytham St Annes is to the south. The famous Blackpool tramway runs along the coast towards Fleetwood.
The railway network that existed in 1964 had grown from a single line in 1840. 1964 was destined to be the last summer of the full network. Starting from the autumn of that year the railways around Blackpool were gradually cut back to the more basic pattern that exists today.
I was born in Blackpool during that summer of 1964, and I grew up in St Annes. The family house was almost halfway between the stations of St Annes and Ansdell & Fairhaven.
My mother’s family came from Fleetwood and like many in the UK they had railway connections. One of my great grandfathers had arrived from Ireland to work as a labourer on the construction of the South Fylde line in the 1860s and 1870s. My grandfather joined the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway at Fleetwood depot in 1911. He eventually became an engine driver and worked on the railway for 50 years.
My father’s family were originally from Manchester but moved to St Annes in 1941. My mother and father first met each other at the famous Blackpool Tower Ballroom in the early 1950s.
I spent my childhood watching the rail network of the Fylde decline whilst listening to family stories and recollections of a much brighter past.
For some reason though, I never made any attempt to study the history of the local railways. It seemed that I was always more interested in getting on a train to go somewhere else.
Recently, I have finally been trying to discover a little more about how the railways came to the town where I was born.
I have divided the story into three parts and the links are here….
1830-1879: Establishment & Growth
1880-1939: Expansion, Improvement & Heyday
1940-2020: Decline, Stagnation & Electrification
Allen, Cecil J (1946) Titled trains of Great Britain – Ian Allan
Brown, Kath (1992) Lytham and St Annes, The Reluctant Resorts – Lancashire County Books – ISBN 1 871236 21 5
Potter, Terry (1994) Reflections on Blackpool – Book Clearance Centre – ISBN 1 85058 425 7
Palmer, Steve (2003) Blackpool, Centuries of Progress – Hesketh Press – ISBN 0 9536386 3 4
Simmons, Jack (1986) The Railway in Town & Country 1830-1914 – David & Charles – ISBN 0 7153 8699 9
Suggitt, Gordon (2003) Lost Railways of Lancashire – Countryside Books – ISBN 1 85306 801 2
Walton, John K (1998) Blackpool – Edinburgh University Press – ISBN 85331 215 0