Balloon Car 721



Built : 1935 by English Electric of Preston Operated in Blackpool from 1935 until 2009 In 1935 fourteen fully enclosed double deckers were built for Blackpool, designed to help modernise the tramcar fleet. The new trams were delivered out of sequence and the very last to arrive was number 258, which had been held back in order to participate in a sales exhibition organised by its builders English Electric to help showcase the very latest in tramcar development.

The new trams were christened Balloons due to their bulbous shape and initially operated throughout the year although, by 1951, they had been relegated to seasonal only use, where their large seating capacity could be used to maximum effect. Number 258 became 721 during a general renumbering of the fleet in 1968.

Over the years it has been progressively upgraded but it remained one of only a handful of Balloons to retain its attractive roof windows, panelled out on most of the type. However, other features, such as sliding sunshine roof, twin destination blinds, traditional lifeguards and upperdeck swingover seats have been lost over the years during routine overhauls. In 1998 it received its last major workshop attention after which it lost its traditional green and cream livery in favour of an all over advertising.
Its initial design, for Michelin Tyres, was a lurid combination of yellow and blue and remains one of the most visually memorable adverts ever carried by a Blackpool tram. Various other advert liveries followed, its last being a mainly black design for the Pleasure Beach.

In 2009 721 was withdrawn from service along with a number of other Balloons and stored,
eventually being acquired for preservation by NEETT and moved to the North East. Currently work is ongoing to repair some damage sustained in transit after which it is intended to repaint the tram into a red and white livery which was briefly carried in Blackpool by sister car 701.