Whatever Happened To? Blackpool Balloon 717

The latest subject in this series that is looking at those trams which ran over the last weekend of traditional tram operation in Blackpool is Balloon 717.

For a tram which always seems to be in service (both then and now!) it may seem odd to say it now but over the last weekend Balloon 717 wasn’t used in public service on either day. Its final use came as part of a daytime tour organised by Tramways Monthly (which also saw the sole use of a Boat Car during the weekend) on Saturday 5th November and it would return to depot around 1900. It was not to be seen in service the following day.

Now and 717 is a regular performer on Heritage Tram Tours, its overhaul in the 2000s giving it a partial heritage and partial modern look including the more modern bumpers and halogen headlights. Despite these modern additions the tram remains operational and with its original green and cream livery style graces the Prom on a regular basis.

5th November 2011 and we see 717 having just rounded Little Bispham loop on its enthusiasts tour with a southbound working.

Then on 29th September 2019 and we catch-up with 717 again. This time it is at Manchester Square and is again heading south, this time it is a heritage service which will end up at Pleasure Beach. (Both Photographs by Gareth Prior)

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1 Response to Whatever Happened To? Blackpool Balloon 717

  1. David Blake says:

    Whatever happened to 717? Surprisingly, on the very day your report appeared this very tram appeared on the government’s own website, no less, at the head of a press release announcing a boost for tourism funding. I don’t know how many people will have noticed this as it isn’t where one normally goes looking for trams! The link is as follows:


    This might seem a small thing to report on, and I don’t know whether any assistance for Blackpool Heritage Trams itself is likely to come from this initiative, but to me, it is significant that a photograph of a Blackpool tram appeared in this context. The gov.uk website is not a political website as such but is now the go-to place for all government information and services including passports, birth, marriage and death certificates, and at present furloughing arrangements etc, as well as including government announcements such as this one about tourism.

    It must say something about the place of Blackpool trams in the national consciousness that someone in the government’s public relations department selected a photograph featuring a Blackpool heritage tram passing Coral Island to symbolise the whole of British tourism – not even the classic view with the tower and sea in the background!

    While politicians and governments may come and go, it must be a positive sign that Blackpool’s heritage trams are achieving (often sub-consciously) the kind of national iconic value, status and affection that major heritage attractions need to help them survive as something seen as worth protecting into the future. So well done 717 and all the people who have restored, maintained and operated this superb streamlined icon of Blackpool’s golden past!

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