Blackpool Tower


Blackpool Tower

Infobox Skyscraper


building_name=Blackpool Tower
location=Blackpool, England, UK
roof=158 m (518 ft)
built=1894
engineer=Heenan and Froude
architect=Maxwell and Tuke
use=Observation tower

Blackpool Tower is a tourist attraction in Blackpool, Lancashire in England which was opened to the public on 14 May 1894. (gbmapping|SD306360). Inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris it rises to 158m (518ft 9 inches). The Tower is a member of the World Federation of Great Towers.cite web
title = World Federation of Great Towers - Blackpool Tower
publisher = World Federation of Great Towers
url = http://www.great-towers.com/towers/index_us.html
accessdate = 2007-11-01
] The tower can be seen from most places within a 30 mile radius including Barrow-in-Furness, Lancaster, Liverpool, Manchester, Preston and Southport. It is a Grade 1 listed building.cite web
title = Blackpool Tower Heritage Trail (81-90)
publisher = Blackpool Tower
url = http://www.theblackpooltower.co.uk/facts.htm
accessdate = 2007-11-01
]

Construction

The idea for the tower came when Blackpool Mayor John Bickerstaffe commissioned the design of a new landmark for the town after he visited the Great Paris Exhibition in 1889 and was impressed by the Eiffel Tower. When he returned to Blackpool he set up a committee of businessmen in order to raise the funds to build a similar design in the town.cite web
title = Blackpool Tower, the great icon of British Victorian engineering, 1894
publisher = Ward Book of Days
url = http://www.wardsbookofdays.com/14may.htm
accessdate = 2007-11-02
]

In 1891, he invested £2,000 of his own money to form, with other local investors the "Blackpool Tower Company Limited". The company was registered on 19 February 1891.Two Lancashire architects, James Maxwell and Charles Tuke, designed the Tower and oversaw the laying of its foundation stone on 29 September 1891, when a time capsule was buried beneath it.cite web
title = Blackpool Tower Heritage Trail (71-80)
publisher = Blackpool Tower
url = http://www.theblackpooltower.co.uk/facts.htm
accessdate = 2007-11-01
] When the Tower finally opened on 14 May, 1894, both men had died.cite web
title = The story of Blackpool and its Tower
publisher = Icons
url = http://www.icons.org.uk/theicons/collection/blackpool-tower/biography/biography
accessdate = 2007-11-01
] The total cost for the design and construction of the tower and buildings was about £290,000. Five million bricks, 2,500 tonnes of iron and 93 tonnes of cast steel were used to construct the tower. The cast steel and iron are distributed in such a way that if it did ever collapse it would fall into the sea. The tower buildings occupies a total of 5,050 sq metres (6,040 sq yards).

Unlike the Eiffel Tower, Blackpool Tower is not quite free-standing. Its base is hidden by the building which houses Blackpool Tower Circus. At the summit there is a flagpole.cite web
title = Blackpool Tower
publisher = Enjoy Blackpool
date = 2007-05-12
url = http://www.enjoy-blackpool.co.uk/blackpool-entertainment/blackpool-tower.html
accessdate = 2007-11-01
]

History

When the tower opened, 3,000 customers took the first rides to the top. Tourists paid sixpence for admission and a further sixpence for a ride in the lifts to the top, and a further sixpence for the circus. The first members of the public to ascend the tower had been local journalists in September 1893 using constructors ladders.cite web
title = Blackpool Tower Heritage Trail (51-60)
publisher = Blackpool Tower
url = http://www.theblackpooltower.co.uk/facts.htm
accessdate = 2007-11-01
] In 1897 the top of the tower caught fire, and the platform was seen on fire from up to fifty miles away.

The tower was not painted properly during the first thirty years, and became corroded. This led to discussion of the structure being demolished. However it was decided to rebuild it instead and between 1921 and 1924 the whole of the steelwork in the structure was replaced and renewed. On 22 December, 1894, the Norwegian ship, "Abana" was sailing from Liverpool to Savello, Florida but was caught up in a storm and mistook the then recently built Blackpool Tower for a lighthouse. The Abana was first seen off North Pier and later drifted to Little Bispham where it was wrecked and can still be seen at low tide. The ship's bell still hangs in St Andrews Church in Cleveleys.cite news
last = Fleming
first = Craig
title = The Fylde coast - A graveyard for ships
publisher = Blackpool Gazette
date = 2008-02-05
url = http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/blackpoolnews/The-Fylde-coast--A.3742141.jp
accessdate = 2008-02-06
]

During World War II, the tower was used for a time as a Royal Air Force radar station and was known at that time as "RAF Tower". The crow's nest was removed in 1940 to allow the structure to be used as a radar station, which proved unsuccessful. In 1949 a post box was opened at the top of the tower. The hydraulic lifts to the top of the tower were replaced in 1956-57 and the winding gear replaced by electric.

The top of the tower was painted silver in 1977 as part of Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee celebrations. A giant model of King Kong was placed on the side of the tower in 1984. In 1985, escapologist Karl Bartoni and his bride were married suspended in a cage from the tower.

The lifts and winding gear were again replaced in 1992. The same year the tower complex was renamed "Tower World" and was opened by Diana, Princess of Wales.cite web
title = Blackpool Tower Heritage Trail (61-70)
publisher = Blackpool Tower
url = http://www.theblackpooltower.co.uk/facts.htm
accessdate = 2007-11-01
] The tower is usually painted in dark red, except for its centenary year in 1994 when it was painted gold by abseiling painters. In 1998 a "Walk of Faith" glass floor panel was opened at the top of the tower. Made up of two sheets of laminated glass, it weighs half a tonne and is two inches thick. In October 2007, a laser beam installed on the tower for the duration of the annual Illuminations was criticised by Astronomer and presenter of The Sky at Night television programme, Patrick Moore who said, "Light pollution is a huge problem. I am not saying we should turn all the lights out, that is not practical, but there are some things which are very unnecessary. The Blackpool Tower light is certainly something I do not think we should be doing. I very much oppose it." The beam could be seen 30 miles away. Moore called for the beam to be stopped. The Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston said the laser has added to a spiralling problem affecting astronomy.cite news
title = Veteran TV star-gazer blasts tower laser
publisher = Blackpool Gazette
date = 2007-10-24
url = http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/news/Veteran-TV-stargazer-blasts-tower.3408030.jp
accessdate = 2007-11-02
]

The tower has transmitters for local FM station Radio Wave 96.5 and some non-broadcast services.

The Tower remained in the Bickerstaffe family until 1964 when the Blackpool Tower Company was sold to EMI.cite web
title = Blackpool Tower Heritage Trail (41-50)
publisher = Blackpool Tower
url = http://www.theblackpooltower.co.uk/facts.htm
accessdate = 2007-11-01
] Since then it has had three owners - Trust House Forte, First Leisure and the present owners Leisure Parcs Ltd which is owned by Trevor Hemmings.cite web
title = Blackpool Tower Heritage Trail (101-110)
publisher = Blackpool Tower
url = http://www.theblackpooltower.co.uk/facts.htm
accessdate = 2007-11-01
]

Artists who have performed at the tower include Arthur Askey, Duke Ellington, Paderewski, Dame Clara Butt, Cleo Laine, Peter Dawson and Busted. Comedian Peter Kay performed his show on 10 and 11 April 2000 in the circus arena which was later released as Live at the Top of the Tower on DVD. The 1947 film, Dick Barton Strikes Back featured a fight scene on the tower. The 1995 film Funny Bones features the tower in several key scenes.

In April 2007, punk rock band, Revisit, performed on the Walk of Faith at the top of the tower.cite news
title = Vicar's towering rock of ages on 500ft stage
publisher = Blackpool Gazette
date = 2007-04-26
url = http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/blackpoolnews/Vicar39s-towering-rock-of-ages.2731103.jp
accessdate = 2007-11-02
]

Blackpool is a popular seaside resort and the beachfront tower is still a major attraction. The tower is lit during the annual illuminations, when the town and seafront are decorated with colourful displays of electric bulbs for six miles along the promenade.

Tower Ballroom

The original ballroom, the "Tower Pavilion" opened in August 1894. It was smaller than the present ballroom and occupied the front of the tower complex.cite web
title = Blackpool Tower Heritage Trail (21-30)
publisher = Blackpool Tower
url = http://www.theblackpooltower.co.uk/facts.htm
accessdate = 2007-11-01
] The Tower Ballroom was built between 1897 and 1898 to the designs of Frank Matcham who also designed Blackpool Grand Theatre and it opened in 1899. It was commissioned by the Tower company in response to the opening of the Empress Ballroom, in the Winter Gardens. The ballroom floor is 120ft x 120ft and is made up of 30,602 blocks of mahogany, oak and walnut. Above the stage is the inscription, "Bid me discourse, I will enchant thine ear" from the sonnet, Venus and Adonis by William Shakespeare. Each crystal chandelier in the ballroom can be lowered to the floor to be cleaned which takes over a week.cite web
title = Blackpool Tower Heritage Trail (31-40)
publisher = Blackpool Tower
url = http://www.theblackpooltower.co.uk/facts.htm
accessdate = 2007-11-01
]

From 1930 until his retirement in 1970 the resident organist was Reginald Dixon, known as "Mr Blackpool". The first Wurlitzer organ was installed in 1929, but it was replaced in 1935 by one designed by Reginald Dixon. The resident organist is Phil Kelsall who has been playing the organ at the Tower since 1975 when he started in the circus. The ballroom was damaged by fire in December 1956, and the dance floor was destroyed along with the restaurant underneath the ballroom. Restoration took two years and cost £500,000 with the restaurant becoming the Tower Lounge.

The BBC televised the Come Dancing series from the Tower Ballroom for many yearscite news
title = BBC in talks over TV show's return
publisher = Blackpool Gazette
date = 2004-02-19
url = http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/blackpoolnews/BBC-in-talks-over-TV.742952.jp
accessdate = 2007-11-02
] and it has also hosted shows from Strictly Come Dancing including the grand final of the second series on 11 December 2004.cite news
title = Strictly a sellout for return of TV classic
publisher = Blackpool Gazette
date = 2004-11-18
url = http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/blackpoolnews/Strictly-a-sellout-for-return.890885.jp
accessdate = 2007-11-02
]

The Blackpool Junior Dance festival has been held each year in the ballroom since 1964.

Dancing was not originally allowed on Sundays, instead sacred music was played. The ballroom also originally had very strict rules including - "Gentlemen may not dance unless with a Lady" and "Disorderly conduct means immediate expulsion". The Tower Ballroom has been voted the most magnificent ballroom in the world.Fact|date=July 2007

Tower Circus Arena

The Tower Circus is positioned at the base of the tower, between its four legs. The circus first opened to the public on 14 May 1894 and has not missed a season since. The present interior was designed by Frank Matcham and was completed in 1900.

The circus ring can be lowered into a pool of water and holds 42,000 gallons at a depth of up to 4 ft 6 inches. This unique capability allows for Grand finales with Dancing Fountains. The Tower Circus is one of four left in the world that can do this.

During more then a century of entertainment, the world's greatest circus stars have paraded across its ring. The Clown Charlie Caroli appeared at the tower for 39 years. Britain's best-known Ringmaster Norman Barret worked the ring for 25 years.

Animals appeared in the circus until 1990.It was planned to close the famous circus at the end of the 1990 season and replace it with a animatronic attraction. Public opinion and the fact the animatronics were not ready meant the circus continued.

Today, the Circus is produced and directed by Hungarian Laci Endresz.

A live band (sometimes accompanied by Mooky) provides all the music for the show, often dynamically syncing with the performers' movements. Several popular songs are performed either on their own or as part of a medley, ranging from the traditional Circus Theme to Ken's theme from the 'Street Fighter II' arcade game.

Aquarium

The oldest part of the building is the aquarium which was part of "Dr Cockers' Menagarie and Aquarium" in the 1870s. It was kept open to earn revenue while the tower building went up around it. The aquarium was modelled on the limestone caverns in Derbyshire. It houses 57 different species of fresh water and salt water fish and the largest tank holds 32,000 litres of salt water.cite web
title = Blackpool Tower Heritage Trail (01-10)
publisher = Blackpool Tower
url = http://www.theblackpooltower.co.uk/facts.htm
accessdate = 2007-11-01
]

Other attractions

Other attractions within the tower complex include

Restaurant 1894

The Hornpipe Galley was removed at the end of 2007 and has now been reopened as Restaurant 1894

Jungle Jim's Towering Adventureland

Jungle Jims is a large indoor children's adventure playground situated within the tower. On 9 October 2007 it was revealed that Leisure Parcs had submitted plans for a new play area, stage and food court to replace Jungle Jims.cite news
last = Robinson
first = Joe
title = Revamp plans submitted for Blackpool Tower
publisher = Blackpool Gazette
date = 2007-10-09
url = http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/blackpoolnews/Revamp-plans-submitted-for-Blackpool.3336874.jp
accessdate = 2007-11-02
]

The new £3M play area, is called "Jungle Jims Towering Adventureland" and is now open. It is a interactive play scheme covering over 2,500sq metres. Based on a lost city, children can tackle a series of adventures in search of hidden treasure.cite news
last = Ettridge
first = Lisa
title = Get onboard Adventureland's crew
publisher = Blackpool Gazette
date = 2008-01-18
url = http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/blackpoolnews/Get-onboard-Adventureland39s-crew.3686541.jp
accessdate = 2008-01-18
]

Jurassic Walk

Jurassic Walk includes a 3D cinema and a walk through a dinosaur landscape. The attraction replaced the legendary dark ride ' The Dawn of Time'.

Charlie Cairoli Exhibition

An exhibition looking back at the life of the famous clown Charlie Cairoli, and his legacy.

Tower Top

The enclosed Tower Top situated at 116 metres (380ft) contains a small gift shop and Britain's highest post box, with letters and post cards being franked, "Posted from the top of Blackpool Tower. The Tower Top contains an additional three levels to climb. The top level has views on a clear day of the Furness Peninsulas, Bowland Fells, The Lake District, North Wales, and at sunset on a clear day, the Isle of Man. Two other platforms and the crow's nest are accessible only to staff. In the lower platform, which is fully enclosed, visitors can look down to street level through a glass floor above the south-west leg, the "Walk of Faith". In July 2006 local Cub scouts pitched a tent on the Walk of Faith as part of the 90th anniversary of the Scouting movement.cite news
title = Scout's towering challenge
publisher = Blackpool Gazette
date = 2006-07-26
url = http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/blackpoolnews/Scout39s-towering-challenge.1652647.jp
accessdate = 2007-11-02
]

Tower Heritage Trail

A trail that takes visitors on a journey looking at the Tower's unique past.

Tower Lounge Bar

The Tower Lounge Bar is a large fun pub with a capacity of 1,400.

Tower maintenance

Painting the tower structure takes seven years to complete, and the workers who maintain the structure are known as "Stick Men". There are 563 steps from the roof of the tower building to the top of the tower which the maintenance teams use for the structure's upkeep. If the wind speed exceeds 72 kph (45 mph) the top of the tower is closed.cite web
title = Blackpool Tower Heritage Trail (91-100)
publisher = Blackpool Tower
url = http://www.theblackpooltower.co.uk/facts.htm
accessdate = 2007-11-01
] There are 8 kilometres (5 miles) of cables to feed the 10,000 light bulbs which are used to illuminate the tower. In April 2002 the Tower maintenance team was featured in the BBC One programme, "Britain’s Toughest Jobs".cite news
title = A head for heights
publisher = Blackpool Gazette
date = 2002-04-15
url = http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/blackpoolnews/A-head-for-heights.147748.jp
accessdate = 2007-11-02
]

ee also

*List of towers
*Reginald Dixon
*Horace Finch
*Theatre organ

References

External links

* [http://www.theblackpooltower.co.uk/ Blackpool Tower and Circus official website]
* [http://www.visitblackpool.com/attractions/default.aspx?AttractionId=10 Blackpool Tourism - Blackpool Tower]
* [http://www.towerlounge.co.uk Tower Lounge website]
* [http://www.viewfinderpanoramas.org/panoramas/ENG/Blackpool.gifComputer-generated virtual panorama from the top of the Tower]
* [http://www.attractionsblackpool.co.uk/Blackpool_Tower.htm Blackpool Tower History]
* [http://www.google.com/maps?ll=53.816498,-3.054392&spn=0.00273,0.007317&t=k&om=1 Satellite view of Blackpool Tower on Google Maps]
* [http://www.wardsbookofdays.com/14may.htm Sir John Bickerstaffe, founder of Blackpool Tower at "Ward's Book of Days"]
* [http://www.mookytheclown.co.uk/mookysite.htm Mooky the Clown official website]
* [http://www.russellbrown-magician.co.uk Uncle Russ resident magician]
* [http://www.djkey.com DJ Key resident DJ in The Tower Lounge Bar]
*Structurae|id=s0000892|title=Blackpool Tower


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