Balloon 701 of 1934

701_01 AR

This tram was built by the English Electric Co., Preston, in September 1934 as one of a batch of 12 production open top double deck trams ordered following the success of a prototype example supplied in February 1934. The class formed part of the streamlined family of 116 new trams introduced by General Manager Walter Luff between 1933 and 1939, and were officially named ‘Luxury Dreadnoughts’ due to their well appointed lower deck interiors and in recognition of the large ‘Dreadnought’ cars they replaced.

Numbered 238, this tram entered service on 15th September 1934, and the class were initially used during the summer on services along the Promenade and to Cleveleys. During the Second World War the open toppers were rebuilt with covered top decks to match the enclosed ‘Balloons’ cars supplied in 1934/5, making them suitable for year round use, with this car treated in May 1942. Following the arrival of new trams in the 1950s the Balloons were thereafter used during the summer season only, but they continued to run every year and went on to enjoy long working lives. The Balloons were renumbered 700-726 in 1968, with this car becoming 701. In 1991 the tram received a prototype rebuild featuring flush mounted glazing and fixed seating, and received a unique red and white livery based on that applied to a fleet of ex-London ‘Routemaster’ buses then running in Blackpool. 701 retired from normal service in 2010, but in 2014 it was restored to its 1991 condition with financial assistance from the Fylde Tramway Society.

Blackpool Transport Services Ltd. have retained tram 701 as part of their Heritage fleet to recognise the service these trams have provided over nearly 80 years.