An unexpected Balloon Bonanza for half term!

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!

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6 Responses to An unexpected Balloon Bonanza for half term!

  1. Tommy says:

    On October 25th, 700, 701, 717, 719 and 723 all operated two illumination tours each, plus one tour by 718.

  2. Andrew says:

    711 was previously used on evening illumination tour duties on October 1st.

  3. Frank Gradwell says:

    We attended on the Saturday night, but due to a medical problem that has only recently arisen, could not tolerate queuing for much over half an hour in the wind and cold, and therefore had to abandon the idea of a trip through the lights.

    This reminded me that way back in 2014 I mentioned the idea of a marquee and seating at Beach for those waiting their trip – with a coffee and snack van there too to warm and cheer and provide revenue too.

    The inability to stand for a long period brought to mind the possibility of booking in advance to a timed departure, perhaps limited to the lowest car capacity available, so as to assist those who can plan ahead and also leave walk up fares for day visitors. Worth a thought at least, surely!

    • Paul says:

      I see your problem Frank – instead of the “cold and windy” location you attended on Saturday Night, you should have gone to Blackpool instead which was enjoying probably the warmest and calmest night of the month!!

      With 7 cars on Tour duties (6 high capacity) plus 723 helping to clear the initial rush by doing a public tour ahead of it’s Private hire, unless you were one of those who started queueing over an hour before switch-on, or chose to let cars go and wait longer for a specific tram, maximum waiting times were actually around 20 minutes – well within your half-hour tolerance…

      I do agree with you that shelter and refreshment facilities at Pleasure Beach would be beneficial, but unfortunately are prevented by covenants on the use of the land…

  4. Dave says:

    Apparently you cannot have a snack van or anything else there as this would contradict agreements with Pleasure Beach. Also I’m not sure a Marquee would be a good idea as you would have to leave it up and you’d end up with people living in it overnight! Last weekend was exceptional as normally by now there are howling gales and torrential rain. Unfortunately people were having to wait for an hour or so but you cannot just magic up extra bodies and Trams anymore sadly.