Balloon 708

1 blackpool 226 X0120Built : 1934 by English Electric of Preston

Operated in Blackpool from 1934 until 2004

This tram was originally built for Blackpool as a large capacity open topper to work the busy promenade route in the summer season, carrying hundreds of thousands of happy holidaymakers along the sea front. Its original number was 245 and it was one of a class of twelve designed to help modernise the Blackpool tramway system. However, when war broke out in 1939, the holiday makers disappeared and it was felt that this tram, and her eleven sisters, would be more useful with a roof. Therefore, 245 was fully enclosed in 1941 and was then able to work throughout the year, becoming known as a Balloon Car due
to its bulbous shape.
Gradually, over its long life, the tram has been further modified to keep up to date with modern trends. Its roof windows have vanished, a pantograph replaced the traditional trolley pole and itbecame the first of its type to receive fixed seating from a Routemaster bus in place of the swingover type. The green and cream fleet livery was also updated over the decades but this example was one of only a few Balloon Cars never to have been disfigured by all over advertising. In 1968 it was given the fleet number 708.

In 2004, after running in Blackpool for seventy years, it was withdrawn from service in need of workshop attention. However, with the decline in passenger numbers affecting the amount of trams required, this was never undertaken. Instead, after use for a few years as a snowplough in the winter, it was sold for preservation, initially to a local group in Blackpool but eventually to the Manchester Transport Museum Society who run a heritage tramway through the grounds of Manchester’s Heaton Park.

708 departed Blackpool in November 2011 and, after storage in Bolton and Bury, arrived in Sunderland in July 2013 on loan to NEETT. It is intended to fully restore the tram to its original open topped condition when it will become number 245 once more.