Picture in Time: Blackpool Balloon 703

This latest edition of “Picture in Time” is in Blackpool as we go back over 25 years to view one of the iconic Balloon cars.

In this photo we see 703 on 25th June 1995 showing off its popular coat of Wartime Green and Cream complete with trolley fitted. It is just approaching the stop at Tower on its way to Fleetwood but for those passengers waiting further north they may be disappointed as it already seems to have a pretty full load. In the distance we can see Railcoach 680.

Of course, Balloon 703 started off as an open topper when it entered service during 1934 but 240 (as it was at the time) became fully enclosed in early 1942. Receiving single indicators in 1956 and a pantograph in 1991 the tram still retained its roof windows throughout. Withdrawal came in 2009 and after the Lancastrian Transport Trust took ownership it spent some time running as Sunderland 101 at Beamish. Eventually returning to Blackpool the tram is again in the ownership of the Fylde Transport Trust (as they are now called) but currently waits for attention before it can be considered for service again.

Photograph by Simon Watts

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6 Responses to Picture in Time: Blackpool Balloon 703

  1. Fred Fitter says:

    You state a pantograph was fitted in 1991, when did it revert to a trolley, as it looks more the part without the pantograph.

    • Gareth Prior says:

      I’m sure someone will come along who is more of an expert than I am but if memory services it only had the trolley again fairly briefly in Blackpool around the time of this photo. It got a trolley again at Beamish though.

      • Andrew Waddington says:

        703 had a trolley refitted in 1995 when it received the wartime livery to commemorate the 50th anniversary of VE Day. Later that year (around September I think?) the pantograph was restored due to frequent dewirements.

  2. David Maxwell says:

    I must say that the Wartime Green livery is my favourite of all the different liveries over the years.

  3. Fred Fitter says:

    An interesting point about some of the trolley trams on the Blackpool tramway, for all trams with trolleys to traverse the Starr Gate Depot loop, we had to design a staggered IRJ (Insulated Rail Joint) on & off the depot to eliminate any hazardous touch voltages.
    If requested I could expand on the details for those interested

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