In Pictures: Balloon 723 goes on The Magical Express Tour

New adverts always used to be part and parcel of the Blackpool Tramway as each year we waited with anticipation to see which trams would get new designs. But with the advent of the upgraded tramway new adverts started to reduce (there have only been 6 adverts on the Flexity2 trams in almost 10 years) and for the traditional trams they have obviously been almost non-existent (with the exception of Centenary 642’s Travelcard design and Brush 634’s Terror Tram advert which has yet to be seen in anger) – until now! As part of the new Magical Express Tour which is running in conjunction with the Christmas by the Sea event taking place on the Tower Headland, Balloon 723 has received an all new vinyl wrap which certainly marks a big change for the tram!

Being applied over its popular 1980s Green and Cream livery style the vinyls on 723 are thankfully clear of contravision on the windows (that would have rather defeated the object of using the tram on these special tours!) with various wintery images included. It is a relatively simple advert with a black base and features an ice rink (which is part of the Christmas by the Sea attractions) as well as snowmen and people doing what people do around this time of year!

Perhaps two of the more unusual aspects of the livery are that vinyls have covered the destination screens with a special “The Magical Express Tour” included on this section and that there are no external fleet numbers (but it is definitely 723!).

723 will be the tram of choice for The Magical Express Tour which runs from North Pole (North Pier and Tower which has had a bit of a makeover for the occasion) to Pleasure Beach and back every 30 minutes on selected dates between now and 3rd January 2022:

  • Until 12th December – Fridays 1730-2030, Saturdays 1300-2030, Sundays 1300-1900
  • 18th December to 3rd January – Monday-Sunday 1300-2030 (not running Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Eve and New Years Day)

Tours cost £4 for adults and £2 for children and can either be booked online at or you can just turn up and go on the day.

Balloon 723 on Central Promeande as it heads south outside SeaLife Blacpool.

Standing at North Pole tramstop with the special The Magical Express Tour destination vinyls.

A side-on view of 723 at North Pole showing the full effect of the new vinyls.

Another look at the new look 723.

A close-up of the new North Pole tramstop sign which has been applied over the old style Heritage Tram Tours logo. (All Photographs by Tony Armitage, 20th November 2021)

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6 Responses to In Pictures: Balloon 723 goes on The Magical Express Tour

  1. Nigel Pennick says:

    The first picture shows Sooty tram surfing with his head perilously close to the overhead. He doesn’t appear in the other pictures, so he must have dropped off.

  2. geoffcurrie says:

    very good!

  3. David says:

    Yes it looks pretty but the cost of that vinyl wrap could have gone towards repairing Rigby Road depot.

    • Andrew Waddington says:

      I think some funding might have been made available to BTS for this as part of the ‘Christmas by the Sea’ marketing campaign so its possible that the money couldn’t have been used on anything else. That said, I’m unhappy that such a smart heritage liveried tram has been vinyl wrapped – presumably 723 will need a complete repaint when the vinyls are removed, having only been last treated in 2016. By contrast, 717 was last repainted in 2008! I’d have liked to have seen 713 treated instead as it still carries an expired advert livery from 2011.

      I like the design of the lower panels, but why is this tram black? It seems a bit dreary for Christmas. I know its part of the wider promotion for the resort but I HATE text speak as well – its Blackpool not BPL!

      • Geoff IoM says:

        Thank you, Andrew, for explaining the letters that follow “I (heart)” on the upper deck. In this days of demonizing oil companies, I was at a loss to understand why the slogan said ” I love BP” !!

  4. Paul D says:

    The livery and logo are obviously designed to fit in with the branding of the “Christmas by the sea” event (as would understandably be directed by the sponsors) and clearly not to please tram enthusiasts!
    It wouldn’t have been a choice between paying for the vinyl or money towards the roof – without the sponsor’s payment for the advert, there would be no money…

    The choice of 723 is also fairly obvious if you think about it. Other than 717 which is still gainfully employed earning money from regular private hires for which you want to keep the most attractive car; it’s the only C-Fleet double-decker with heaters which I bet would have been greatly appreciated by both crew and passengers today! 713 maybe – but it’s not the most reliable even compared to the other B-Fleet…

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