15 Years Apart: Blackpool Balloon 717

“15 Years Apart” is back for the fifth year as we take a look at two photos of a certain tram – one in 2008 and one in 2023. In this series there will be trams which look different and trams which more or less look the same as they did across the two photos. The first edition this year goes to Blackpool and it’s a tram which falls into the second category! It is Blackpool Balloon 717.

Perhaps surprisingly 717 has not featured in this series before but there is a good reason for that – it had been withdrawn in 2003 and only returned to service after its restoration in 2008. We catch up with the tram at Tower on a damp 6th September 2008 when it was working on specials to Cabin. Modern bumpers at the ends, pantograph, Philip R Thorpe names on the ends and the original green and cream fleet livery are all in place.

Moving forward 15 years and we catch up with 717 on 23rd September 2023 with the tram now an integral part of the Heritage fleet. On this date it was being used as “The Ghost Tram” and heads through the stop at Wilton Parade on the way northwards. Same livery for the tram but it has new destination blinds and lost its Philip R Thorpe name on the ends with side names for Walter Luff now carried instead. (Both Photographs by Gareth Prior)

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