Previously known as Blackpool’s ‘Scruffy Surprise’, the appearance of Balloon car 723 has been transformed over the past two months with a full repaint in the 1980s green and cream livery, finally returning this tram to an immaculate appearance. To celebrate its return to regular service, 723 will be launched with a special late afternoon tour on Friday 29th April, acting as a warm-up to the activities of the Bank Holiday weekend.
With its repaint now completed, 723‘s first duty will commence at 1615 on 29th April when the car departs from Hopton Road on its maiden voyage. Unusually, passengers will be able to board outside the heritage tram depot offering the rarity of a ride along Lytham Road onto the promenade. The tram is timed to depart from North Pier at 1630, Cabin at 1637, Bispham at 1642 and Cleveleys at 1652 before arriving at Fleetwood at 1710. The car will then perform a full system trip, due to arrive at Starr Gate terminus at 1815. A run to Thornton Gate will follow and 723 should then run to Pleasure Beach before heading back to Fleetwood Ferry, departing from the northern terminus for the second time at 2040. The tram then heads back to the depot with the special tour expected to end at 2125.
To enjoy 723‘s first public runs in its newly repainted condition, as well as the novelty of an evening ride to Fleetwood aboard a Balloon car, a special £10 fare will be charged. This price applies to all passengers whether or not they remain on board for the whole of the event, and as a bonus a souvenir certificate will also be included.
Although 723 has run infrequently as a member of the heritage fleet since 2013 – initially in its expired ‘Sands Venue’ advert livery, and more recently in the tatty green and cream livery which had been uncovered once its external vinyls were removed – this tour marks the proper start of its new life as a fully fledged heritage tram, providing another guise in the evolution of the Balloon class to the fleet. Hopefully its return will be warmly received and the inaugural tour will be another success, ahead of what should be a busy season for the tram.