Lytham’s – St Anne’s lost trams

Lytham’s grandly named Lytham St Anne’s Corporation Tramways ran for just under forty years. Only one line existed and this had opened in 1896 using unsuccessful compressed gas trams. The line began at Blackpool South Shore Railway station and was extended to Lytham in 1897.

Lytham St Anne’s Tramway By Andrewrabbott – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.0

The line was rebuilt for electric traction in 1903 and only ran until 1937. However the history is interesting and some ex Preston trams ran for a time along the line. It is also rumoured that trams from Blackpool may once again run to St Anne’s and beyond.

Compressed gas trams

The principle of the gas tram was first explored in Germany. They ran on compressed town gas and used a two cylinder internal combustion engine. A large flywheel was used to smooth out the motion. Gears and a clutch were also used. The gas trams proved to be underpowered and used too much gas. Consequently they were often replaced by horse drawn units until the electric service began in 1903. Only two other tram systems used gas trams in the UK, Trafford Park in Manchester and Neath in wales. Prior to electrification most tramways used steam powered tram engines.

There were two gas tram depots where the onboard tanks were refiled. One was at Squires Gate in Blackpool while the other was at market square in Lytham.

Gas tram in Lytham, image Red Rose Collection

Electric trams take over

In 1903 electric trams took over in Lytham and ran until 1937. The Blackpool, St Anne’s and Lytham Tramway company had bought out the failing gas tram company in 1900. Next, in 1920 St Anne’s council bought the later company and the trams were rebranded as “St Anne’s-On-The-Sea Council tramways”. In 1922 Lytham and St Anne’s Urban District Councils merged to form the Borough of Lytham St Anne’s. Consequently the trams were again rebranded.

Lytham Tram in the 1920’s heading towards Blackpool, Photo by G. N. Southerden, courtesy of the Brian Turner Collection.

By the 1930’s the track was worn out and The Borough of Lytham St Anne’s had rejected an offer to amalgamate with Blackpool Corporation. This would have led to an integrated tramway and renewed tracks. However, the tramway was abandoned in 1937 to be replaced by buses.

Sources and Further reading

Lytham’s gas trams on

Gas tram’s begin in Lytham-Press release 1896

Lytham and St Anne’s trams on the Tramway systems of The British Isles site

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