A taste of 1970s Blackpool has come to the East Lancashire Railway at Bury, near Manchester, with the surprise arrival of Blackpool Balloon car 708 on Monday 9th January. The tram has now joined similar-liveried sister car 702, as both trams await eventual transfer to the Heaton Park Tramway, giving the bizarre sight of two nearly identical Blackpool trams together at this preserved railway.
Regular followers of the Blackpool tram scene may well recall that 708 had only been on the move as recently as 28th November last year, when it moved from Rigby Road to a temporary storage site in Bolton. It is remarkable that a tram which had spent the first 77 years of its life in Blackpool following delivery from the English Electric factory, has made
another road journey mere weeks after its final departure! It had originally been intended that the tram would be housed undercover, but on arrival at Bolton it soon became clear that the large tram would not fit inside the building there! The car was subsequently unloaded outside, hence the decision being made to move it to the more secure site at Bury, where it has joined two other ex-Blackpool trams now owned by the Manchester Transport Museum Society: Balloon 702 and Railgrinder 752.
The MTMS’ current situation, which has seen several trams moved around between storage sites and a number of vehicles temporarily stored outside, is certainly not ideal but with deadlines to meet this has unfortunately been the only option for the recently expanded tram fleet. However, with the news that permission has been granted for a new depot to be constructed at Heaton Park, hopefully the sight of trams standing out exposed to the elements will soon be a thing of the past! As a temporary measure however, the MTMS has invested in some protective tarpaulins which should be used to cover the cars outstationed at Bury.