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Much of Blackpool's growth and character from the 1870s on was predicated on the town's pioneering use of electrical power. In 1879, it became the first municipality in the world to have electric street lighting, as large parts of the promenade were wired. The lighting and its accompanying pageants reinforced Blackpool's status as the North of England's most prominent holiday resort, and its specifically working-class character. It was the forerunner of the present-day Blackpool Illuminations. In 1885 one of the world's first electric tramways was laid down as a conduit line running from Cocker Street to Dean Street on the Promenade. The line was operated by the Blackpool Electric Tramway Company until 1892 when their lease expired and Blackpool Corporation took over running the line. A further line was added in 1895 from Manchester Square along Lytham Road to South Shore, and the line was extended north, first to Gynn Square in 1899, and then to Fleetwood. In 1899 the conduit system was replaced by overhead wires. The tramway has remained in continuous service to this day.

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