Whilst the imminent departure of Blackpool & Fleetwood ‘Box’ car 40 from its original native tramway dominates the headlines from the Fylde coast, there has been some more positive news for the Blackpool heritage fleet. Two Balloon cars are set to receive workshop attention shortly, the best news being that ‘Princess Alice’ 706 looks set to have its major overhaul started in the spring.
The latest magazine of the Fylde Tramway Society – who are, of course, fundraising to finance 706‘s overhaul – has stated that steel for the tram’s new underframe has been sourced and a price agreed, with a view to starting construction work in the spring. The unique open top tram has been terribly missed on the promenade since it last ran in November 2015 and this news hopefully indicates that visible progress will be made on its restoration soon. The FTS appeal has now raised £10,000 which should cover the cost of the replacement underframe, although considerably more work will be needed before 706 can run again.
It is also good news for popular second series Balloon car 715 which is set to receive some interior renovations as well as a partial repaint to portray its 1970s appearance. Thanks to a generous donation, it is planned to replace the horizontal wooden sections above the upper deck windows which are in a poor state, and Woodside Designs of Blackpool have already machined the timbers for this. Whilst the long-term operational future of 715 must surely be in some doubt due to its structural condition, hopefully this extra work will give it a slightly prolonged existence in the running fleet at Blackpool and prove to be a good investment. Indeed, the continued use of 715 is quite remarkable as it was first on the hit-list for withdrawal way back in 2003, and yet it remains a regular performer on the upgraded tramway today!