Blackpool Balloon car 713 has seen occasional use in the last few years, as the only operational tram in the fleet left with an all-over advert. The livery in question, for the Houndshill shopping centre in Blackpool town centre, was applied in 2011 when 713 first emerged with widened centre entrances and other modifications for use on the upgraded tramway in a supplementary role.
However, recently 713‘s long-expired advert has changed with the removal of its contravision vinyls from the side windows, although the crooked letter ‘H’ remains for now on the upper deck end windows. Despite this the advert remains striking and attractive – indeed passengers will probably appreciate the clear view, and this could potentially enable 713 to be used for illumination tours in this guise if required, something it had not been considered for previously. The only real downside to the removal of the vinyls is the fact that the large woman adorning the sides of the tram appears to be missing her face, whilst the top of a small drawing of the Blackpool Tower is also missing. The rebuilt Balloon debuted in service in its slightly revised advert on Saturday 26th August when it worked heritage tours for the day, this being its first passenger use since 1st May.
Whilst it is likely that 713 will remain last choice for service due to the expired advert livery, this recent development may well allow it to see a little more use and if last year is anything to go by, an additional enclosed double-deck car could come in very useful on cool illumination evenings.