Posted by: SB Websites | September 17, 2011

17/09/11 A Look At Balloon 715

Balloon Car 715 was formerly known as 252 and was built-in 1934 by English Electric and was the 16th out of the fleet of 27 to be delivered to Blackpool. 715 soon entered service in January 1935 in what is now known as the “1930’s Green and Cream” with the livery slightly changing throughout the decades. Unlike the first twelve, 715 has been a closed top tram since day one and has been collecting fares along the Promenade every single year and is still in active service now, classed as a Heritage Car and owned by the Lancastrian Transport Trust.

After twenty-one years of continued service during the era managed by Walter Luff, Joseph Franklin took over his position and began by making destination blind changes to the Balloon Cars. This included replacing the two angled destination blinds; which are currently still carried on 700 and 717, with one central blind that was much more visible. This also included larger text that was easier to read rather than the two triangle-shaped lines of text carried during the time of the two angled destination blinds. Further modifications came to 715 and the majority of the Balloon fleet in 1967 which included the removal of roof windows which had been a long-standing traditional feature of the fleet. Just a few years later in 1981 the tram was treated to a full overhaul which included new panels and trucks to keep the tram in working order.

Unusually, it was not until 2005 where 715 gained its first ever all over advert for the Mystique Show at the Pleasure Beach and this was stripped off after two seasons where it then ran in all over white for a further two seasons. 2008 saw an expansion of the Metro Coastlines livery onto the tramway which saw 715 painted into the light blue and yellow Line 16 bus livery.

Balloon 715 then continued service throughout 2009 but was seen as a reserve car and saw the least use in the trams history. Into 2010, this saw 715 purchased for preservation by the Lancastrian Transport Trust and during the 2010-2011 Winter, was painted into 1970’s Green and Cream. Since then 715 has continued to see use having been fitted with a transponder and although now classed as heritage, it has been out frequently on timetabled service covering for a lack of available double deckers. It is hoped (though we cannot confirm) that 715 will continue to see use on the tramway for many years to come alongside the new Bombardier Flexity 2’s.

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