Balloon 721 to be repainted

There hasn’t been much news from the North Eastern Electrical Traction Trust (NEETT) and its collection of trams based at the North East Land, Sea & Air Museum near Sunderland for quite a while. However, that looks likely to change with the Trust announcing its intentions to treat Blackpool Balloon car 721 to a full repaint in a traditional livery, for which donations are now being sought.

721 has resided in the North East since early 2012 when it departed Rigby Road having been sold to NEETT for preservation. Other than the removal of its Pleasure Beach advert vinyls – leaving a dull black base coat behind – and repairs to some damage sustained in transit, the car has remained unchanged over the last five years. NEETT now intend to give the tram a repaint in green & cream. Although the exact style remains to be confirmed, the 1990s Blackpool Transport fleet livery currently seems to be the favoured option, as per sister car 715 which is of course a regular performer on heritage tours in Blackpool. It is understood that approximately half of the finance required to pay for this repaint has already been obtained, but more money is still needed to finish the job.

It had previously been planned to paint 721 red & white, and indeed some red paint was obtained, but the subsequent painting of 701 in this attractive colour scheme for further use in Blackpool seems to have rendered this project obsolete, and a more authentic livery is now expected. Plans to loan the car to the Heaton Park Tramway, where it could have been commissioned for use and then operated in service, also seem to have fallen by the wayside and it appears that 721‘s long-term future is now as a static exhibit. This is rather a shame, as thanks to an overhaul undertaken in 1997-8 which included a major underframe rebuild, it was considered to be in the best condition of all the Balloon cars which were offered for sale. It would have made a superb addition to any heritage line and despite some modifications, its largely traditional appearance with roof windows and a full set of swingover seats also made it a popular and attractive car.

However, it is pleasing to see plans for investment in 721 and hopefully the car has a bright future ahead of it despite the change of plans for it which have arisen since it moved into preservation.

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3 Responses to Balloon 721 to be repainted

  1. Chris Callan says:

    Certainly was “interesting” way to launch the appeal on social media to put it mildly. Little appetite to regurgitate whats already been said elsewhere. Some within what is clearly very small team appear to have taken umbrage that people appear confused with what seems a fairly fluid plan for the tram and wider NEETT ambitions and wanting to ask questions before parting with cash. Surely folk can be forgiven for being a bit sceptical handing over cash in preservation era that had more than its fair share of rogues and failed schemes. I mean things like:

    1) Estimated Cost
    2) Actual Livery and any dedications / sponsors / roundels (FTS & BHTT should have warned people over 701)
    3) Estimated Project Completion Timescale when necessary funding in place.
    4) Will it be tendered work to Heritage Painting type outfit or done in house

    All seem like pretty reasonable questions that the enthusiasts would want answering before committing money & support.

  2. Kevin says:

    Personally I wouldn’t give any money with the attitude received in some of the responses I have seen on line to both this discussion and others. One person seems to be clinging on to the Trams, which have no connection with the North East whatsoever. sadly I think the ship has well and truly sailed on any working line at NELSAM and its time to send them all home.
    can you even view the Trams or are you held to ransom over people demanding cash for apeek? that seems to be the general opinion.

  3. KenW says:

    I would agree fully with all the above. Although I haven’t seen the comments alluded to, to expect people to just blindly cough up money in response to an appeal without being willing to answer questions to satisfy any concerns is arrogance at its worst. With plenty of projects seeking funding around the country I can only conclude that such a head in the sand attitude will only result in people diverting their donations to other more sympathetic causes. That would certainly be my response.

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