All change at Rossall School as Trailer 687 now selected for the move

They say a week is a long time in politics and so it seems a couple of weeks is a long time in tram preservation! After reports came out that Rossall School were preparing to take on Blackpool Balloon 710 from the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust to cosmetically restore it and display within the school grounds it would now appear that there has been a change of mind and Twin Trailer 687 has been selected again. Maybe 710 failed the entrance exam to the independent school?!

The decision to change course and select the Trailer comes after continued discussions between the school’s managers and trustees of the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust with 710 said to be “unsuited” to the plans the school had for a tram. Its now suggested that these plans will include display within the school grounds for practical purposes. It is intended that it will enjoy a professional repaint into green and cream along with the fitting of replacement windows.

687 – originally numbered T7 – is a strange survivor of the Blackpool Tramway with its towing mate, 677, having donated its underframe to the restoration of the Western Train locomotive with it remains subsequently scrapped. It was purchased by Merseytravel for the Wirral Waters scheme but after these plans were abandoned was privately purchased, moved to Wyre Dock and eventually ownership was transferred to the Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust.

Having been stored at Wyre Dock for a number of years it has more recently been painted out of the traditional Blackpool colours with a mish-mash of grey and silver paint currently carried on the tram. It has also suffered from its outside storage with some of the roof windows having fallen out. 687 is currently without any internal seating and has in more recent times been used by the Trust as a store.

It is anticipated that the transfer of 687 will take place in the coming weeks with its survival seemingly secured, at least for the time being. As for 710 its future is now less secure once more with the Trust said to be looking for a suitable venue and hosting sponsor for this tram again.

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9 Responses to All change at Rossall School as Trailer 687 now selected for the move

  1. geoffcurrie says:


  2. John1 says:

    Perhaps the one which survived for no reason! Losing it when 677 went would have freed up trailer spares.

  3. nostalgicyetprogressive says:

    At least there is once again the opportunity for 710 to be restored to working condition rather than be committed to remaining static for some time to come. 687 most likely suits a school’s requirements better for similar reasons to the usefulness of 622 in such a role, as it is a single decker which can be more readily made accessible to pupils of all abilities. The missing seats (donated to 734) would also allow more scope for repurposing the interior to suit educational needs.

    It is unlikely that 710 will fail to find a new home, as Balloons are very beneficial as people movers on a museum or heritage service – in addition to being absolutely priceless of course. The TMS have no working Balloons (unless one counts 762 as being formerly 714) and the Blackpool Heritage operation did suggest in recent years that they wished to recreate a nearly authentic ‘Luxury Dreadnought’, although given the amount already invested on the restoration of 706, it may be decided that Princess Alice will have to do. Also, they would need to consider the best use of reduced availability of space.

  4. John1 says:

    Sorry nostalgic but time to take your rose tinted specs off. Whose going to take 710 on? 712 left Blackpool as a runner and others were available in better condition but Crich didn’t take the opportunity for a running Balloon. Heaton Park have 2 stored, Beamish sent theirs away. East Anglia potentially have room. Blackpool are kicking Trams out so its hardly going to go there and they have plenty already.
    710s future is a static curio as ‘the Alan Bradley Tram’
    Already invested in 706? What investment? It was promised back for 2020. Nothing has been done on it apart from a half hearted effort to raise funds for an underframe by the increasingly pointless FTS. 704 was a perfect candidate for luxury Dreadnought and I believe the original proposal was to do 704 and 706 together.

  5. Andrew Waddington says:

    I agree with John1 here. I’ve been 710’s unofficial cheerleader on sites like this in the past, but I never expected it to be restored to running order – its own unique story lends itself well to ideas that may not suit other cars, and I’d welcome any ‘outside the box’ ideas for its future. I want it to survive, but either as a static museum piece or as some sort of novelty exhibit would be fine by me.

    If Crich wanted an operational Balloon car, they would presumably have got one by now. Do they need one anyway? They’re already sending Derby 1 to Clay Cross to make space for Brush car 298, so I don’t think acquiring a second Balloon is something that should even be considered. Enough people moan about them being dominated by Blackpool trams as it is without adding another duplicate!

    I would say though that two open top Balloons for Blackpool would be perfectly reasonable – ‘Princess Alice’ 706 and an authentic recreation of one in 1934 condition. Maybe a future project for the FTT with 703? At the rate they’re progressing lately they could probably get it completed before 706 has even entered the workshops!

  6. John1 says:

    Noooo leave 703 alone – its on eof the few authentic cars left! 704 should have been open top and 703 sixties to eighties as thats exactly how it is.

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      That’s a good point actually! I’d probably favour 701 as an open topper actually, I don’t think it really adds much to the fleet in its current condition. Controversially I’d be tempted to conserve 703 as its hardly changed since the 1960s and any work to get it operational would probably be so extensive it would remove its originality. I’m not a huge fan of conserving trams but with so many Balloon cars around I wouldn’t mind it.

  7. nostalgicyetprogressive says:

    The work on 706 dies seem to be taking rather a long time and I suspect that the original budget was overoptimistic. I’d say that 703 would be better retaining its new identity as 101 and having double destination blinds fitted. Then it would possibly be useful as an exchange tram for the loan of 31 on a semi-regular basis. I therefore believe that either 708 (if Heaton Park is looking to offload it) or 710 would be better candidates. I do feel that Crich would do better trying to get 712 running again at some point in the future. 704 will of course fill a gap in Balloon representation as it is planned to use this car to replicate the classic 1960s appearance of such trams.

    I feel that Blackpool Heritage Trams do need to concentrate on the Balloons. No doubt a possible consequence of Covid-19 will be that more staycations are taken in future. This could lead to the need for more capacity on the Heritage service. Perhaps a Brush Car – for example 631, which is neither ‘fish nor foul’ could depart to make room for another Balloon thereby increasing potential passenger capacity per square yard of storage space available. Also, I wonder if Granada Studio Tours would be interested in acquiring 710. If they cannot afford it, then their shareholders should be concerned as so many moves have been accomplished by enthusiasts and their organisations, who I’m sure have less financial clout than a broadcasting company should.

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      I don’t see why Blackpool would want a Balloon in Sunderland condition, and assuming that Beamish would be bothered about it as a sort of regular swap thing baffles me… surely if Beamish wanted it they wouldn’t have donated it back to Blackpool!? Also the costs of regular exchanges would be very high.

      Regarding 631, there was some fairly strong evidence that it had been in the Paint Shop recently, so it seems fair to assume that its not going anywhere! With so many single deck cars available in Blackpool, I’d actually like to see 621 at Beamish on loan for a while, showing what could have been had it been restored and used there – it could plug the enclosed single deck gap in their fleet as 196 is rather tired and Gateshead 10’s overhaul is still some way off completion. That’s assuming tram operations get back to something close to normality there anytime soon, of course.

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