Fylde Transport Trust
Fylde Transport Trust

Balloon Car 715

715 was one of the second batch of English Electric double deckers ordered by Walter Luff - this time fully enclosed cars instead of the open toppers delivered first. As with most trams of the Luff era, they were well appointed, ornate, streamlined, centre entrance cars. Sliding sunshine roofs were provided for warm summer days. Our car was new as No.252 in January 1935 and operated from the Rigby Road depot on the Promenade and Lytham Road routes. Initially painted green with cream skirt, cream band on upper deck panels and cream upper deck window surrounds, the car gained the mainly green wartime livery in the early 1940s.

Various modifications took place after Luff retired with new manager Joseph Franklin progressively stripping the cars of their decorative add-ons. The most significant was the replacement of the twin destination indicators with a larger, clearer, single unit and 252 was one of the first so treated in 1956. A rare escape from Rigby Road took the car to Marton depot for a brief period in 1962 - Balloons providing certain workings on this normally single deck service at school times. 252 became 715 in the 1968 renumbering.

It was not until the 1970s that further modifications befell 715. It was one of the last to retain its sliding roof losing this and its roof windows during winter 1976/7. Early summer 1981 saw a further overhaul with the car extensively repanelled, losing the 'between decks' panel split and emerging largely in the condition it is today.

1980s livery was applied in May 1986, and a pantograph was fitted in November 1990. The 1990s livery (see picture above) was applied for the first time in October 1992.

For the 2005 season 715 received its only all-over advert for the Pleasure Beach mystique show, though the vinyls were removed for the 2006 season with the car running in plain white until April 2008 when it gained the Line 16 light blue and yellow Metro style scheme.

The car was secured for preservation in January 2010 and in a radical move the LTT invited Blackpool residents and tram enthusiasts to become shareholders in a project to return 715 to green & cream livery in the condition it emerged back in 1981. During the illuminations of 2010, preserved 715 operated in its "Line 16" livery but in May 2011 it finally entered the paint shop. 715 returned to use on 4 June after its green and cream repaint and was used regularly throughout the 2011 summer season until the last day of traditional tramway operation on 6th November 2011.

715 rejoined the operating heritage fleet May 2015, painted in 1990s fleet livery. A partial repaint was applied in 2019 back to 1970s livery with period adverts for Blackpool Zoo and CIS insurance. 715 has been an active member of the heritage fleet. 

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