Bye bye, White Blob!

Blackpool’s Paint Shop is now occupied by a tram for the first time this year, having recently been kept busy with the application of vinyls and other finishing touches to Blackpool Transport’s new fleet of double-deck buses. The lucky tram to be under attention is B Fleet car 718, one of the four flat-fronted Balloons also known as ‘Millennium’ cars, albeit the only one which is currently active.

After being stored for a few years, 718 was surprisingly returned to service last year, primarily for use on illumination tours which necessitated the removal of its previous advertising vinyls for Madame Tussaud’s, leaving behind a ghostly white base coat. Despite this ugly appearance, the tram proved to be both useful and popular following its return to use, providing a welcome extra heated double-deck car for those cool autumn evenings. However, the ‘White Blob’ was always intended to be a temporary look and so it is pleasing to report that 718 is now being treated to a full repaint in a traditional green and cream livery. The style applied will be that worn by the Millennium cars when first introduced, and which has not been seen on any car since the 2004 season. 718 actually never carried this livery – indeed it has never operated in green and cream since being rebuilt into its current shape – and so this won’t be a strictly authentic repaint, but nonetheless the end result will doubtless be a vast improvement on its previous appearance and will go a long way towards making the tram a valued part of the fleet. Presumably, this repaint indicates that for now at least, 718 is being regarded as an honoury heritage tram as opposed to a member of the B Fleet, although its widened doors will remain in situ leaving the possibility that it could be used on specials to supplement the core service in times of need. Hopefully though, any such duties will utilise the trio of purple Balloon cars (700, 711 and 719) first, as using a green tram on service duties could well lead to confusion for passengers who are not closely familiar with the finer details of the Blackpool tramway.

Following completion of car 718‘s repaint, it has been confirmed that Standard 147 will be the next car to pass through the Paint Shop. Despite receiving some remedial attention whilst on loan to Beamish Museum recently, 147‘s external appearance is still well below that which its owners would ideally like, following several years of hard work at Blackpool and at Beamish, especially as it is considered to be one of the flagship vehicles in the heritage tram collection. Therefore it has been decided to give it a full repaint for the first time in over a decade. The tram will also receive some other conservation work to restore it to an immaculate appearance. Whilst it is a pity that the popular Standard car will be absent from the tramway for a while longer, its return to service should be well worth waiting for and this work should ensure that it looks very smart for many more years to come!

718 is seen in the Paint Shop in the early stages of receiving green and cream for the first time since it was transformed into a Millennium car. (Photo courtesy of Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours)


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8 Responses to Bye bye, White Blob!

  1. Nigel Pennick says:

    This will be a great improvement on its ghostly appearance.

  2. Dave Mitchell says:

    I am as always impressed by what is being achieved and can be done on this a real life tramway, far more than imaginable in 2011.

    Thank you one and all.

  3. Dave Warner says:

    This tram will look superb when finished! So pleased tokeep reading these articles about Heritage tram progress.

  4. Christopher Callan says:

    718 proved to be incredibly popular workhorse throughout the Blackpool Illuminations last year even in base coat white so its very shrewd move to indeed to paint it. Provides a very useful extreme wet weather member of the fleet, some operational variety for enhanced operating weekends and of course play a significant role as part of the Lights.

    Delighted about Standard Car 147 been treated to much needed full repaint and important conservation work. Cant have been the only one who was concerned to see level of deterioration and bare wood become quite evident on its recent loan. Its right and proper that its considered one of the flag ship tramcars of the collection.

  5. Neil A says:

    It is a pity that 700 is not gaining the coat of green and cream, with 718 gaining purple embellishments to create the correct B fleet livery. Which tram pool does 718 now belong to?

  6. David Butterworth says:

    I don’t think that 700 would look right, in 1940’s green and cream, with those widened entry points.

  7. Tony Blews says:

    I heard that 718 is pretty much considered to be a Heritage Tram anyway, and it is only a matter of time before it will be officially regarded as such.
    The same goes for the other extant B Fleet vehicles. Its a case of “as and when”. As in when then can be officially written off as BTS assets and transferred to BHT instead.

    So we could be seeing other widened Balloons getting repainted in the not to soon future. Which makes sense, considering their lack of service on regular duties.

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