‘Princess Alice’ 706 restoration appeal launched

One of Blackpool’s best loved trams is undoubtedly the unique open-top Balloon car, ‘Princess Alice’ 706. The tram was always hugely popular whenever it appeared in service since its conversion to open-top condition in 1985, until the end of the 2015 season when it was withdrawn from use as it was in need of major workshop attention. The Fylde Tramway Society are now raising funds to enable this to be carried out, and donations from the public are needed to help!

706 currently requires a major body overhaul, as well as a new underframe to replace its 1934 original which was only partly renewed during its previous renovation in 1985. The work is expected to cost about £50,000 – with an initial £10,000 needed for the underframe alone. Obviously this is a hefty sum, although in the general context of tram restorations it represents very good value for money!

It is intended to have 706 back in service by 2021, which is the Fylde Tramway Society’s 50th anniversary year. As part of the sponsorship arrangement, the tram will appear with FTS adverts on its upper deck side panels, similar to those it carried back in 1985, with suitably amended lettering. The car will remain in 1985 condition with its extended roof canopy and single destination indicators at each end; it is generally felt that 706 is such an iconic tram that it should be preserved indefinitely in this guise, potentially leaving scope for another Balloon car to be returned to original open-top condition as a ‘Luxury Dreadnought’ with 1930s features such as twin destination screens and half-drop saloon windows.

Since ‘Princess Alice’ last carried passengers, many people have bemoaned its absence – but the fact of the matter is that a lot of time and money is needed to get the tram back into a condition suitable for its continued operation on heritage service. However, once the planned work is completed, 706 should be fit for many more years to come – so the appeal will secure the tram a bright future as a key member of Blackpool’s operational fleet.

To donate to this worthy cause, please send a cheque made payable to the Fylde Tramway Society to: Fylde Tramway Society, PO Box 1264, Blackpool, FY1 9EG, please clearly label your letter as being a donation for the 706 fund. Alternatively, you can contact FTS Committee member Mark Green by email: green.m@btopenworld.com to request further information.

As an added incentive, anyone who donates £100 or more towards the appeal will be rewarded with some special perks – a souvenir booklet detailing the history of car 706, a special ‘thank you’ certificate, a large photograph of the tram taken by acclaimed tramway photographer Gary Mitchell, and an invitation to see behind the scenes at the Rigby Road workshops to view progress on 706‘s overhaul. Please note that the FTS will deliver these perks by the end of 2018, except for the workshop tours which will be provided by Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours on dates to be confirmed.

The recent ongoing spell of hot sunny weather reminds us all of how much we miss having ‘Princess Alice’ 706 running on Blackpool’s promenade – now is the chance for all of us to help get it back where it belongs!

A classic view of 'Princess Alice' 706 in service at North Pier in May 2015. This was 706's last year of operation in Blackpool prior to its withdrawal to await a major overhaul, for which fundraising is now underway. (Photo by Andrew Waddington)



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3 Responses to ‘Princess Alice’ 706 restoration appeal launched

  1. Chris Callan says:

    Suspect very few will be willing to say it but this very much represents a last throw of the dice for a society that has struggled to remain relevant in recent years. If the appeal is a success it will perhaps give a small glimmer of hope that it can continue to function and make a meaningful contribution going forward. Already early warning signs it has to be said with a lack lustre “launch” that involved a small poster shoved in a cheap frame in the corner of Rigby Road at Totally Models on their single table stand on the Sunday and tired dated funding process with seemingly no online mechanism to donate (the hugely successful 703 appeal should of been the template to fund the £10,000 under frame).

    Its hard to want to donate (but i will cos am daft like that) with so little confidence that a the Society will push to actually successfully fund it. Visions of only a fraction of the money required been raised and the money i put in just sat doing nothing. Needs a proper launch. Tram extracted from depot washed and on display as part of proper launch resulting in some press coverage. Launch a Online Crowdfunder at same time. The rewards seem particularly stingy as well at pretty steep £100 price point which is hardly likely to attract ordinary public who will be vital to getting this funded. When you consider a depot tour ticket costs from just £5… and slowly but surely more and more times of the year to visit.

    The tram itself been so badly missed. The damage not having a open top balloon is having blindingly obvious and its gone on far to long. In parallel as enthusiasts we should be looking at other open top projects as well specifically commercially driven open top solutions like ripping off roof of modified balloon and loans (just not off centred poles..)

  2. Chris Callan says:

    Hope the question is asked to Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours (and naturally require BTS permission) towed to Fleetwood as a Static Display at Tram Sunday (with doors firmly shut noting under frame) next to something With FTS Banners & Appeal Posters on all windows.

    Then the obvious depot line ups much easier August & September with different things next to it for the next two Gold Events after.

    The more folk talking about Alice the quicker it will be funded. Seeing it prompts discussion. Providing there are easy methods to donate you can translate into hard cash

  3. John1 says:

    I’m sure if the desire to launch the appeal at Totally had been capitalised on then the car could have been extracted for the weekend to publicise. imagine a few quid from ecah visitor to kick start. What is also a shame is the lack of online donations. A scatterbrain like me won’t remember to send a cheque, but I’d click and donate when I saw a link as I did with 703. Perhaps if someone made an offer to the FTS to run this on their behalf then we would see a much more promising result. maybe even ongoing communication to say how much has been raised An Aliceometer?

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