Uncle Toms Cabin – Bispam’s First Centre Of Entertainment – By Norman Cunliffe
The 1890’s brought considerable change to the area around Uncle
Tom’s mainly as a result of two things which occurred.
The first was the purchase of the estates of Fanny Hall, Bank and
Uncle Tom’s, by the Gynn Estate Co. Ltd., and the second was the
building of the Blackpool and Fleetwood tramroad.
The Gynn Estate Co Ltd., was incorporated on 19th May 1897 and was composed mainly of local businessmen. It was formed specifically to purchase and develop the coastal area north of
the Gynn as 1ar as the present Cavendish Road, Once the purchase had taken place on 29th July 1897 the Company was then able to proceed with plans it had drawn up. This resulted n the laying out of streets running parallel to each other either in a north/ south or an east/west direction. A marine drive was also included on the west
edge of the estate and the developments were subject to a right of way agreed with the Blackpool and Fleetwood Tramroad Co Ltd., for the construction of a tramroad along the cliffs. One of the covenants
agreed to when signing the conveyance was that there would be no beerhouse, or sale of beer or spirits on the estate, except at a fully licenced inn or hotel and of which there were to be no more than three. The licence attached to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, however, would not be affected so long as the licensee occupied the premises. It transpired that the estate plans only allowed for one hotel and this was planned to cover the whole of the block bounded by Northumberland Avenue. The Esplanade, Knowle Avenue and Bispham Road (later known as Holmfield Road).
In fact only a portion of the block was eventually used for this
purpose and this was for the new Uncle Tom’s Cabin Hotel.
The houses which were to be built on the estate had to conform to set standards regarding their rateable value, depending on their
position. This was done in order to keep the area select. Utilities were provided by the Fylde Water Board and Blackpool Corporation, who supplied the piped gas. The first house built on the
estate was a detached one for a Mr. Jones of Alderly edge and was
Situated on Knowle Avenue.
Once the development of the estate was under way the Company
turned its attention to the protection of the cliffs from erosion,
and after an experiment using groynes was found to be successful
in the retention of sand at the foot of the cliffs they extended the
Scheme further. They also made plans to eventually build a Seawall extending from near the Gynn northwards at an estimated
cost of £30,000.
In May 1896 the Blackpool and Fleetwood Tramway Act was
passed after a group of businessmen had produced a scheme for a
tramroad over which, trams, powered by electricity from over-
head wires, would run along a track, kept separate from the roadway.
Construction started at the Fleetwood end on 19th July 1897 and
in five days short of one year official operations had begun between
Fleetwood and the Gynn. By 29th September the same year the
service had been extended along Warbreck Road and Dickson
Road on track leased to the Company by Blackpool Corporation
to a terminus near Springfield Road. The tramway was an immediate
success and by the end of the first year of operation one and a half
million passengers had been carried, Besides being popular with the
visitors it was a boon to the residents of the fast growing areas of
Bispham, Norbreck and Cleveleys. This success was also beneficial
to Uncle Toms, for it enabled a far greater number of people to
VISit the area than would otherwise have been possible. Visitors
could be at the Cabin Tram Station within a short while after arriving by train at North Station, for during the busy periods trams were running approximately every three minutes.