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In 1993 Balloon 707 was withdrawn in need of a major overhaul.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 style of 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 of Ballloon 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 high visibility headlights. The addition of the high visibility headlights allow clear visibility in the poorly lit Northern section of the tramway at night, allowing the tram 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. Initially the upper end corner windows were ommitted, however these were retrofitted at a later date, giving improved all round view for the passengers.
Opinions of the rebuilding of 707 were mixed at the time that the tram re-entered service. Some enthusiasts saw the refurbishment as 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718 became the third rebuild after it was withdrawn in need of a new underframe and overhaul in 1999.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.
The limited use of the B fleet, meant that 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 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.
718 remained the sole representative of the Millennium Balloons in service until 2020, when Millennium Balloon 707 was also re-activated as part of the heritage fleet. 707 was also repainted into the Millennium Green and Cream livery and re-entered service in March 2020.
|Original Number||Current Number||Built||Status||livery||Notes|
|244||707||rebuilt 1998||in servuce||Millennium Green and Cream||sees use with the Heritage Fleet but could be used with B Fleet if required|
|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|