Balloon 706 of 1934


706 “Princess Alice” 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.

This tram entered service on 25th September 1934, and the class were initially used during the summer on Promenade services although they could also be used during the winter with the open top deck closed off by shutters. 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. The Balloons were renumbered 700 – 726 in 1968, and went on to enjoy a long working life with many of the type surviving in use until the Blackpool Tramway was fully upgraded as a modern Light Rail system in 2012. However, this particular tram was to follow a different career path to its sisters. After sustaining damage in an accident in 1980 it was returned to open top condition as an added attraction for the Blackpool tramway centenary in 1985. On 6th June 1985 HRH Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, named tram 706 “Princess Alice” in a ceremony at North Pier, the tram becoming the first in Blackpool to be dedicated in this way.

Blackpool Transport Services Ltd. have retained tram 706 as part of their Heritage fleet to recognise the service these trams have provided over nearly 80 years.