Blackpool Millennium Cars

Technical Information

Built: 1933 - 35 as balloon originally (rebuilt as millennium cars 1998 - 2004)

Builder: English Electric, Preston

Capacity: 84 - 94 seated (varies per fleet member)

Numbered: 707, 709, 718, 724

Trucks: EE Equal wheel bogies, 4ft 9 inch wheelbase

Motors: EE 305 HP 57 x 2

Controllers: EE Z6

Top Speed: approx 35 MPH

Braking: Westinghouse air wheel, rheostatic 8 notches, hand- wheel

Current Collector: Pantograph

Current Operation:  part of B fleet, can be used on normal service if needed

In 1993 Balloon 707 was withdrawn in need of a major overhaul. At first it was assumed that 707 would receive a similar overhaul to the other Balloons being overhauled around that time.   After a couple of years in store awaiting it's turn in the queue, work commenced on 707 and the tram returned to service in 1998.

The refurbishment to 707 featured: enlarged drivers cabs, flat fronted ends with rounded edges, giving the tram the appearance of a double decked railcoach or twin car and halogen headlights, which allowed clear visibility in the poorly lit Northern section of the tramway at night thus allowing it to be allocated to the Fleetwood service at night.

Internally, the tram car has central heating and bus style seats featuring the traditional moquette.   The car re-emerged repainted in with the Millennium style Green, cream and black livery.


However there are disadvantages to this type of tram, whilst they do have a more modern and brighter interior it has the same interior layout as an ordinary balloon, with the central entrances and central stair cases.This meant that a costly 3 person crew consisting of a driver and 2 conductors were still required. It can be said that a Millennium tram is basically a flat fronted balloon.

Opinions of the rebuilding of 707 were mixed, back when it re-entered service, some people commented that it was vandalism of a popular class of tram, However over the course of time, the Millennium trams settled down and provided reliable service following a few initial teething troubles (which was to be expected really).   

Work started on the next rebuild in 1998 and 709 was the second tram to emerge in this style, re-entering service in 2000. 709 (and 707 originally) did not have opening cab windows originally and had air conditioning units in the driver's cab. For a few months after entering service, a fitter could be seen at Manchester Square with a watering can to top up the water in the air conditioning unit!!!!, needless to say, an opening cab window was installed soon after.

718 became the third rebuild after it was withdrawn in need of a new underframe and overhaul in 1999. It was the 1st of the 2nd series balloons to appear in this style and had taller lower deck windows than 707 and 709 which were rebuilt from 1st series balloons. 718 re-entered service in 2002. The final rebuild was 724, this tram took longer to enter service due to other higher priority jobs and re-entered service in 2004.

724 was the last car to be rebuilt in the millennium style as subsequent major overhauls have resulted in 713 and 720 keeping their original balloon shape but losing their curved end windows to replaced with the flatter style windows, whilst 717 kept its original shape and receiving a heritage overhaul.  

During 2010 and 2011, the 4 Millennium Trams received modifications with the fitting of pods and power operated sliding doors.        Following intensive use of the Pleasure Beach - Little Bispham service in 2011, to be used on a Pleasure Beach - Cleveleys service on the post upgrade tramway.   However the success of the new Flexity service meant that use of the B Fleet Balloons and Millennium trams was limited to use on occasional adhoc specials.

All 4 Millennium Trams were stored after the 2013 season.   In 2015 707 and 709 were stabled outside the fitting shop for the September gold weekend, with 709 also appearing at the 2016 weekend.    

After 3 years in store, 718, now known as a 'Millennium Balloon' was stripped of its expired Madam Tussauds all over advert and was returned to service in it's white base coat with the heritage fleet for use on Illuminations Tours and on Gold Weekends.   

718 was selected to return to service as the flat front allowed for an excellent view of the illuminations from the top deck and it also allowed another chapter in the 84 year history of the Balloon Car to be represented within the fleet.

718 was repainted into the Millennium Green and Cream livery originally carried by 707 and 709.   718 missed out on carrying the livery first time round as it entered service carrying an advert for City Sightseeing.


Original Number Current Number Built Status livery Notes
244
707 rebuilt 1998 stored
Bucaneer Family Bar Advert Advert Transferred from Brush Car 627
246
709 rebuilt 2000 stored
Sea Life Centre Advert Advert transferred from Brush Car 632
255
718 rebuilt 2002 in service
Millennium Green and Cream
sees use with the Heritage Fleet but could be used with B Fleet if required.
261
724 rebuilt 2004 stored
Lyndene Hotel Advert