Both well on the way to completion and scheduled to open in 2024. Blackpool Tramway Extension & Holiday Inn – Talbot Gateway Phase 2 continue the regeneration of the area around North Station and Talbot Road with a connection to the promenade. Take a look and see how the site’s changed…
The £22m extension forms part of Talbot Gateway regeneration project around Blackpool North train station. It includes:
- demolition of the former Wilko store,
- completion of the new tramway interchange at Blackpool North Station,
- a new underpass,
- four-star Holiday Inn hotel and restaurant, with more high-quality accommodation choice for leisure and business visitors
- an improved leisure offer to boost the night-time economy,
- brand new retail locations.
- two brand new Flexity2 trams to provide for extra passenger demand.
- promote a more integrated and connected use of our transport system.
- Phases of Work at Talbot Gateway
- Why does Blackpool need a Tramway Extension?
- Building the Blackpool Tramway Extension – Talbot Gateway Phase 2
- Tramway Extension & Building the New Holiday Inn – Talbot Gateway Phase 2
- Traces of Tramways Past
- While you’re here…
Phases of Work at Talbot Gateway
A large area of land around Blackpool North Station, Talbot Road and Cookson Street is being transformed. In a long-term, phased regeneration plan Talbot Gateway is completely changing the look and use of this area.
- The first phase saw the construction of Sainsbury’s supermarket, the development of offices and Bickerstaffe Square. It now accommodates more than 1,000 public and private-sector employees including Blackpool Council. More about Phase One of Talbot Gateway and Bickerstaffe Square
- The Holiday Inn and Tramway Terminus marks Phase Two of the Talbot Gateway project in Blackpool’s Central Business District. All about the Holiday Inn here.
- Phase Three includes the restoration of The Hop pub and conversion into a dentists. Plus clearing land and building a new Department for Work and Pensions office block. More about Phase Three DWP offices
- But this isn’t the end of the transformation around here! Phase Four is the new Blackpool ‘Multiversity’ – to be sited off Cookson Street and announced in 2023. More about the Phase Four Multiversity complex
Why does Blackpool need a Tramway Extension?
The Blackpool Tramway Extension is excellent news and a huge step forward in continuing to regenerate Talbot Gateway. It will create more jobs for people in Blackpool and a stronger economy for everybody in the town.
Almost two million journeys go through Blackpool North train station every year and rail journeys to the resort are growing. 1.8m people per year arrive at Blackpool North railway station and 80% of them travel on to the Fy1, FY2 and FY4 postcode areas. The extension will capitalise on the electrification and growth in rail travel. It will make journeys for residents, commuters and visitors from the train station much easier.
Over five million people already use the current tramway every year. That number is growing and passengers are extremely happy with the service they get from Blackpool’s modern, accessible trams. Growing demand for tram and train travel shows that the Blackpool tramway extension is sure to be a success.
The extension will also be the linchpin at the centre of the second phase of the Talbot Gateway. It will be a huge boost to the resort when it opens.
What will it Look Like?
The new Holiday Inn hotel stands where Wilko once used to be. The tramway extension takes you from the promenade to the tram stop sited at the side of the new underpass to Blackpool North Station. You’ll be able to connect from tram to train really easily with a bright, modern entrance into the station.
Route of the Blackpool Tramway Extension
The new tramway leaves the promenade at North Pier to travel along Talbot Road to Blackpool North Station. With stops along the way, the regular service will improve local travel for everyone. And, to improve the look of Talbot Road, there are also new highways and footpaths. You can read the original Blackpool Council brochure for the Tramway Extension, you can download it here.
On the Drawing Board…
As a local authority Blackpool Council can’t just dig up the roads and build a tramway. First they had to make an application for an order under the Transport and Works Act 1992, for powers to construct, operate and maintain the extension. It was back in March 2018 when Central Government granted it.
Our tramway extension is one of six infrastructure projects to be delivered in the county by Transport for Lancashire. That’s the body formed in 2015 to develop, approve and fund major transport schemes. They have a multi-million pound budget, devolved by the Department for Transport from 2015/16.
£16.4m towards the estimated £18.2m total cost of the project is to be met by Transport for Lancashire. The group includes the region’s three transport authorities, Lancashire County Council, Blackpool Council and Blackburn with Darwen Council, together with the private sector led Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The proposed scheme was also subject to final funding approval by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership.
The Paperwork Moves along
On 13 March 2020 Blackpool Council revealed that they were seeking approval for the next phase of the Talbot Gateway Regeneration Scheme.
A funding proposal went before Blackpool Council’s Executive on 23 March 2020 to facilitate the demolition of the Wilko store and complete the new tramway interchange at Blackpool North Station. Works also include a new underpass, four-star Holiday Inn and restaurant, and new retail and leisure facilities.
The above photo is an artist’s impression looking from Bickerstaffe Square towards the sea along Talbot Road. The new buildings replace this corner as it used to look –
Building the Blackpool Tramway Extension – Talbot Gateway Phase 2
See how long it takes to deliver something on this scale, and the steps that went into this long project which is nearing completion. It’s been fascinating to watch the transformation of a run-down and neglected block of buildings into a brand new, modern facility.
First Job: Laying the New Tram Lines
Visit Fylde Coast correspondent Barrie C Woods did a sterling job of documenting the progress of construction work on the new tram track. These photos of works taking place along Talbot Road are from July 2018.
Tramway to Wilkinsons!
Another update from Barrie C Woods. As he says, the tramway looks like it’s heading straight into the front doors of Wilko’s! Photos taken on 31st October 2018.
Moving on a few months and to the junction with the promenade, this is the next stage of construction, in January 2019 –
The stretch of carriageway between West Street and Queens Square reopened in March 2019.
Tramway Testing in 2022
From North Pier, new electrical lines and new tram signals have been installed overhead.
The completed extension also means more trams on the network and more frequent services. It will connect North Station to the Promenade giving a direct link to shops, hotels and leisure attractions and easier commuting for residents. And the new tramline will be cleaner, greener, quieter and more reliable.
Tramway testing took place during June 2022 at the new Talbot Road extension. The track, signalling and lights were all thoroughly tested, with trams every 10 minutes. The trams will open to passengers once the hotel is complete. Take a look at the progress here
On Monday 4 July 2022, we were thrilled to be able to take a ride on one of these test trams! Capturing the moment as it made its way along Talbot Road from the new Terminus to North Pier tram stop. Come with me and enjoy the ride!
Tramway Extension & Building the New Holiday Inn – Talbot Gateway Phase 2
Closure and Demolition of Wilkinson’s
Wilkinson’s Supermarket and attached multi-storey car park closed at the end of March 2020. The next job for contractors was to demolish the store and car park, clearing the entire block. We went along to take some photos just before the doors closed for the final time –
The Wilkinson’s store had originally opened as a Fine Fare supermarket, opened by TVs ‘The Goodies’ on 22 May 1979. The stores origins were immortalised in these fiberglass panels set into the wall along Talbot Road. Here at Visit Fylde Coast we were lucky enough to rescue one of these pieces, which now has pride of place in our garden!
Later the store was Food Giant, then became Gateway, followed by Kwik Save which closed on 26 April 1999. But in March 2000 it became the UKs largest Wilkinson’s, with a car park for 460 cars. It was March 2014 when they were all rebranded to Wilko. Plans were passed to allow the demolition of the store in 2017 – so Phase 3 has been a long time in the making.
Blackpool Council and development partner, Muse Developments jointly appointed Robertson Construction Group to carry out the work. Muse entered into a Development Agreement back in March 2009.
Preparation for demolition of the Wilko store and car park, which ceased trading at the end of March, began on Monday 1 June 2020.
Down it comes!
The first proper knocking down of the external building began on Monday 14 September 2020. We couldn’t resist going along for a look, capturing history in the making in photos and video –
Surprised at how quickly the building came down, we popped back on day three for another look.
And a couple of weeks later it’s disappearing rapidly!
Our friend Barrie C Woods took these photos of demolition, at dusk on 4 November 2020. It all seems a long time ago now!
Constructing the new Holiday Inn
On 30 June 2021, key members of the development team met on site to mark the erection of the first steelwork for the 4* Holiday Inn and Marco Pierre White restaurant. Don’t forget you can see the development of the new Holiday Inn and inside views here.
We also went to take a look for you – here’s video from that point in the progress –
Here’s an aerial view of the site from the top of the Blackpool Tower. Thanks to Steven Hughes for sending this photo, taken in September 2021, where you can see the Tramway Extension & Holiday Inn – Talbot Gateway Phase 2 taking shape –
By April 2022 (below) you can really tell what’s happening with the hotel structure in place and the tramway extended into the site.
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Traces of Tramways Past
Juliette Gregson is one of the contributors to Visit Fylde Coast. She captured traces of the original tram lines of the Layton route, which once ran along Talbot Road. They’re a brilliant glimpse of the past.
These photos were taken when Phase One work was carried out at Bickerstaffe House and Sainsbury’s.
The tramway did once follow this route along Talbot Road as you can see from the next photo. This route closed in 1936.
Following on from Blackpool’s First Major Tramway Upgrade
The 11 mile long Blackpool seafront tramway re-opened in 2012 following a major £101m upgrade project. This saw the track replaced from end to end, with new stops for accessible boarding. The signalling and electrical infrastructure was also replaced and upgraded. 16 new Bombardier Flexity2 trams arrived in the resort, housed in the new tram depot at Squires Gate. They have level boarding – making them accessible for all disabled users – provide faster journey times and a more energy efficient service.
As you might expect, the improvements brought an increase in passenger numbers from 2m in 2008/9 to 5m people in 2015.
Provision was made at the time for expanding the tramway in the future… And here we are, years later, with an extension to Blackpool North, a more integrated and connected use of our transport system.
While you’re here…
Go to the homepage of the Live Blackpool website for the latest updates.
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