Saturday 22nd October was a remarkable day for Blackpool’s Balloon cars, when an impressive seven of the type ran on a variety of duties. This included 719 making its first appearance carrying passengers this year, having previously been used for driver training and as the shop tram at last month’s anniversary event.
On this exceptionally busy night, 18 illumination tours ran – a record high for the year so far. This included use of Balloon 701 and Millennium car 718 both of which have been frequent performers in recent weeks. More unusual however, was the choice of two B Fleet cars, 711 and 719, both of which ran on illumination tours for the first time ever since being modified with widened entrances. 700 also made a brief appearance on specials to boost the core LRT service that evening, and was then stabled at Starr Gate depot where it remained overnight before returning home to Rigby Road.
The day’s Balloon action also included the more traditional green and cream liveried cars 717 and 723 which were both out and about on private hires. 717 was used for a filming assignment, whilst 723 was carrying a wedding party. The number of private hires operating this year with the heritage fleet has been most encouraging and is proving to be an increasingly good source of income for the operation.
With school half-term holidays taking place either this week or next in different parts of the country, the remainder of the 2016 illuminations looks set to be extremely busy and with the daytime heritage service being very well patronised, as well as some impressive loadings on the illumination tours, the year should end on a high for Blackpool’s heritage trams… and there’s still another gold running weekend and Christmas to come!