BLACKPOOL TOWER

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Blackpool Tower cost £41,000 (total design and construction costs for Blackpool tower were £300,000 - about twenty one million pounds in today's money), and when the tower was first opened to the public on Whit Sunday 14th May 1894 it cost sixpence to enter and another sixpence for a ride to the top. These days Blackpool tower attracts about a million visitors annually.

The idea for its creation was that of John Bickerstaffe, a Blackpool hotelier, who during his term as Mayor of Blackpool visited the Great Exhibition in Paris and was greatly impressed by the sight of the tower there. He wanted to build a similar landmark in his home town of Blackpool and organised a consortium of local businessmen to finance the project. Two Manchester architects, Charles Tuke and James Maxwell, were commissioned to produce a design and they were able to assure the committee that the erection of a 500 foot tower along the Blackpool seashore would be a feasible and worthwhile undertaking.

The Blackpool Tower Company was registered in February 1891 and the foundation stone was laid in September of that year.  Three years later the work was complete.  By the standards of the day it was a staggering achievement.  When it was constructed it was regarded as the greatest single piece of British engineering of the time. It is without doubt the most significant monument in Blackpool.

Over 5 million bricks, some 2,500 tons of steel, and more than 90 tons of cast steel were required in its completion, and at any given time there were two hundred men working at great height to finish the work. The tower is constructed in such a way that if it ever collapsed it would fall into the Irish Sea, rather than on the surrounding buildings - which must be reassuring for those people living in its vicinity! The tower is not entirely free-standing, because its base is concealed by the structure accommodating the circus.

From the top of the tower can be seen the Isle of Man, North Wales, and the Southern Lake district, as well as large swathes of Lancashire, and it is also visible from those same places. There are lifts to the Tower Top, where you can enjoy these views. (The Tower Top may be closed for safety in high winds.) The upper observation level is 400 feet. The tower is a key feature of Blackpool Illuminations when it is decorated with ten thousand light bulbs, and it has a huge searchlight which sweeps across the town all evening. It is a Grade I Listed Building and is a member of the World Federation of Great Towers, being the oldest tower on the membership list. It takes about seven years to paint the building and the painting is a continual process; as soon as the decorators have worked their way to the top, they start at the bottom again, using six tons of paint each time. A nice illustration of the significance of the tower to the resort is provided by the telephone number it was assigned between 1913 and 1946.  This simply stated: “Blackpool 1.”

Although Blackpool Tower is considerably smaller than the Eiffel Tower, there is no doubting the superiority of the Blackpool version. The 1,063 foot iron tower erected on the Champ de Mars alongside the Seine in the French capital has emerged as the most disappointing tourist attraction in the world according to a 2007 survey commissioned by Virgin Travel Insurance, being described as "frustratingly overcrowded and overpriced", leaving almost a quarter of British visitors feeling less than impressed. Blackpool Tower is on a smaller scale than its French rival but in addition is an important entertainment centre.

As well as being a magnificent piece of architecture, Blackpool Tower is also a fun-packed entertainment complex. It is possible to buy an all day ticket to the tower with pass-out tickets enabling you to enter and leave throughout the day.

Inside the building is the acclaimed tower circus starring Mookey the Clown in "Mookey's Masquerade", and a line-up of of renowned international circus artistes, with a finale of 40,000 gallons of water cascading into the circus arena. In the Circus Workshop people can learn tricks such as spinning Plates and juggling. (Selected dates.) The Tower Circus with its stunning golden Arabesque walls is situated in the basement auditorium. It is animal free and for the last four years has been voted Best UK Circus by the Circus Friends Association.

There is also Jungle Jim's, one of the largest indoor adventure playgrounds in Europe, with slides, nets, tunnels, ball ponds, and other children's entertainment.

Those who think Blackpool Tower is all about slot machines and flashing lights will be pleasantly surprised by the majestic neo-baroque Tower Ballroom with its sprung parquet floor and the sensational sight and sound of the world's biggest Wurlitzer Organ rising from under the stage playing a waltz - the organ played by Reginald Dixon who was resident organist from 1930 until his retirement in 1970. The 'Mighty' Wurlitzer is known internationally from Reginald Dixon's characteristically jaunty playing style which became famous as the Blackpool Sound. Later organists in the Ballroom have been Earnest Broadbent and Phil Kelsall, who has the same signature tune as Reginald Dixon - "Beside the Seaside". The organ is played every day during the holiday season, and is also played at functions and concerts.

Designed by the celebrated theatrical architect Frank Matcham the Blackpool Tower Ballroom is regarded as the most magnificent ballroom in the world. The floor, measuring 102 feet by 120 feet, is made of over thirty thousand separate blocks of walnut, oak and mahogany; and it has beautiful tiles with Pre-Raphaelite figures, and large intricately ornate crystal chandeliers, each of which takes an entire week to clean.

The Walk of Faith. This terrifying glass walk is 380 feet above the promenade - 'you'll crack before the glass does'!

Tower Aquarium
- dozens of fish species in purpose built tanks. The Tower contains in addition: Jurassic Walk dinosaur landscape, 3D Cinema, Family Bar in Family Entertainment Zone.

Blackpool Tower was a tremendous success and it seemed as if a vogue had been established for building them nationally. Another building based on the Eiffel pattern was begun at New Brighton in the Wirral and it was designed by the same Manchester architects. The opening was in the year 1900 and at 567 feet was actually taller than the Blackpool tower. However demolition wirk was begun less than twenty years later and it no exists.

Blackpool Tower Laserbeam was new for 2007 and started on 17th October. This new addition to the skyline is the most recent feature of the illuminations and is visible up to thirty miles away showing brightly coloured patterns and beams. The thirty five watt solid green laser is the largest Beacon in Britain and will project lights in all directions for ten minutes each evening. It is thought of as a 'Blackpool Beacon' welcoming residents and visitors to the resort. It is the first laser in the world to be operated remotely via radio control using high speed Ethernet wireless links from the studio based at the Illuminations HQ, linking to Blackpool Tower and Blackpool International Airport. The project team have worked in close consultation with the airport throughout the project to alleviate any potential interference with incoming and outbound flights at Blackpool International Airport. They are also working very closely with air traffic control and the CAA to ensure flights are not disrupted during operational times. The bespoke laser was designed specifically for Blackpool Illuminations by Laser Technology Ltd. The Blackpool Tower Top Laser is just one of the projects forming part of the town centre £2.5 million Regeneration by Light initiative.


Email: enquiries@blackpoolilluminations.me.uk
Copyright (2007) blackpoolilluminations.me.uk - Blackpool Tower

BLACKPOOL TOWER


Standing 518 feet tall the world famous and historic tower dominates the Blackpool landscape, and is perhaps the most iconic of all Blackpool symbols. It is undeniably the most distinctive seaside building in Britain. The tower can be seen from all over Blackpool and its images are everywhere - on souvenirs, ornaments, business cards and brochures. It would be extremely hard to think of Blackpool without the tower.

It was inspired by by the work of Gustav Eiffel who of course made the Eiffel Tower, and it is modelled on its Parisian counterpart; in fact it was originally going to be called the Blackpool Eiffel Tower.



 

 

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