An exciting development at Blackpool is the recent delivery of a large quantity of steel to the Rigby Road workshops, which has been supplied to use in the construction of not one, but two new Balloon car underframes. In addition, the manufacture of some components for these has already been started.
The process of constructing all the parts of what is effectively a very big jigsaw puzzle is likely to be a slow one, and it may be some time before the new underframes are actually assembled, but this is nonetheless an exciting development and a very positive move for the long-term future operation of these trams in Blackpool. The steel for one underframe is presumably destined for the unique open-top car ‘Princess Alice’ 706, as part of its major overhaul to restore the tram to the condition in which it was outshopped in 1985. This has been funded by the appeal run by the Fylde Tramway Society which has recently passed the initial £10,000 target required to replace 706‘s underframe.
Other ongoing work at Rigby Road includes the continuing work on Standard car 143, which has largely focused on the underside, ahead of its planned launch at the end of August. Bolton 66 continues to have its bogies overhauled as well, and has received extensive cosmetic attention from Heritage Painting, with additional interior work being carried out by a volunteer from Heaton Park. All of these projects will certainly add greatly to the operational fleet of heritage trams in Blackpool, and their completion is much anticipated.