In Pictures: Balloon 713 returns to service at Blackpool’s first enhanced weekend of 2023

The weekend of 18th and 19th February saw the first newly christened “Enhanced Weekend” from Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours. What was once known as a “Gold Weekend” saw a timetabled six tram service run on both days from 1000 to 1700, including trips between Pleasure Beach and all points north as far as Fleetwood. Although things didn’t quite go according to the plan (we are, of course, dealing with trams which are approaching 90 years old!) there were still several different trams out in service – including the return to action of B-fleet Balloon 713.

It had been planned that 713 would be allocated to service on both Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th February but a technical fault meant that it wasn’t possible for it to be used in service on the first day. It had been repaired sufficiently to allow it to start the day on Sunday 19th February but unfortunately had to retire back to depot halfway through the day.

713 had been prepared for service in the latter part of 2022 for an undefined “future project” but had not been used for anything except testing until this weekend. Its last use had been in 2020 when it was still carrying an expired all over advert for the Houndshill Centre but it is now in a plain white livery with these vinyls having been removed.

In the end ten different trams were used in service over the two days:

Brush 621 (Sunday), Brush 631 (Sunday), Centenary 648 (Saturday, had been due to run Sunday but was replaced before service began), Railcoach 680 (Saturday and Sunday, the latter as a replacement for 648), Balloon 700 (Saturday and Sunday, day one as replacement for 713), Rebuilt Balloon 707 (Saturday), Balloon 713 (Sunday AM replaced in service by 717, had been replaced on Saturday by 700), Balloon 717 (Saturday and Sunday, latter as early stand-in for 723 and later replacement for 713), Balloon 723 (Sunday after it was fixed having not been able to start the day) and the Frigate (Saturday). In addition the Trawler was in use at the Shop at North Pier and Tower – adding some extra colour to the Prom on a grey February weekend!

Balloon 713 did make it to Fleetwood ahead of its early return to depot. This view shows it having just come around the loop at Fleetwood and now approaching Pharos Street on 19th February.

Saturday 18th February saw a rare February daylight appearance for the Frigate. Also in service was Centenary 648 and the two trams are seen passing at the Tower when heading in their respective directions.

Railcoach 680 ended up in service on both days of the weekend having been selected as a replacement for 648 on Sunday 19th February. Its on that second day of the event that we see the tram with one of the Thornton Gate services. (All Photographs by Dave Bickley)

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1 Response to In Pictures: Balloon 713 returns to service at Blackpool’s first enhanced weekend of 2023

  1. lazzer says:

    Balloon 713 looks great in that all white livery hope it stays like that.

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