BLACKPOOL TOWER is a tourist attraction in Blackpool. Lancashire, England, which was opened to the public on 14 May 1894. Inspired by the Eiffel Town in Paris, it is 518 feet (158 metres) tall and is the 103rd tallest freestanding tower in the world. The tower is a Grade 1 listed building.
The Blackpool Tower Company was founded by London-based Standard Contract and Debenture Corporation in 1890, when it bought an Aquarium on Central Promenade with the intention of building a replica Eiffel Tower on the site. John Bickerstaffe, a former Mayor of Blackpool, was asked to become Chairman of the new company and its shares went on sale in July, 1981. The Standard Corporation kept 30,000 £1 shares for itself and offered £150,000 worth of shares to the public, although initially only two-thirds of the shares were taken up. This lack of interest foreced the Towe Company to ask for further cash contributions from its existing shareholders. but the poor financial situation of the Standard Corporation, worsened by the falling share price, rendered it unable to pay. Bickerstaffe's remedy for the potential collapse of the venture was to buy any shares available, until his original holding of £500 amounted to £20,000. He also released the Standard Corporation from their share commitments. When the Tower opened in 1894 its success justified the overall investment of nearly £300,000 and the Company made a £30,000 profit in 1896.
Two Lancashire architects, James Maxwell and Charles Tuke, designed the Tower and oversaw the laying of its foundation stone on 29 September, 1891l By the time the Tower finally opened on 14 May, 1984, both men had died. Heenan and Froude of Worcester were appointed structural engineers. supplying and constructing both the main tower, the electric lighting and the steel front pieces for the aquariums. A new system of hydraulic riveting was used, based on the knowledge of fielding and Platt of Gloucester.
The total cost for the design and construction of the tower and building was about £290,000. Five million Accrington bricks, 2,500 tonnes of iron and 93 tonnes of cast steel were used to construct the tower. Unlike the Eiffel Tower, Blackpool Tower is not free-standing. Its base is hidden by the building which houses Black Tower Circus. The building occupies a total of 5,050 square metres (54,500 square feet). At the summit of the tower there is a flagpole. A time capsule is buried beneath the foundation.
The design of the tower was ahead of its time. As a writer for the BBC noted: "In heavy winds the building will gently sway, what a magnificent Victorian engineering masterpiece."
When the Tower opened. 3,000 customers took the first rides to the top. Tourists paid sixpence for admission, 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. In 1897 the top of the tower caught fire, and the platform was seen on fire from up to fifty miles away.
Programme of the first circus:
The Tower was not painted properly during the first thirty years and became corroded, leading to discussions about demolishing it. However, it was decided to rebuild it instead and between 1921 and 1924 all the steelwork in the structure was replaced and renewed.
Painting the tower structures takes seven years to complete, and the workers who maintain the structure are known as "Stick Men". There are 562 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 km/h (45 m/ph) the top of the tower is closed as a safety precaution. There are 8 kilometres (5 miles) of cables to feed the 10,000 light bulbs which are used to illuminate the tower.
Illuminations and the Tower:
Phil was telling me the other day about how he used to go on holiday to Blackpool with his parents and he remembers going to the top of the tower. This prompted me to use it in my "Did you know?" series.
There is more information on Wikipedia about the Tower and also more photographs.