For the first time in many years Blackpool Tower is free of the wrap-around scaffolding which has been part of it’s maintenance program.
Blackpool Tower was opened in in 1894. Funded by a London Corporation who purchased the existing aquarium which was already present on the site in 1890. The Eiffel Tower had recently opened in Paris and was proving to be a huge tourist attraction. This was back in the time when the British Empire was in it’s heyday and there was a determination that Great Britain could do something on the same scale.
Blackpool was chosen as it was emerging as the go to holiday resort in England. Industrialization had recently taken hold in the mill towns of the North of England and the many workers who over the preceding few decades had moved from working on the land in Countryside to the Mill towns and industrial manufacturing such as textiles in Manchester and woolen products and eventually engineering in Leeds. Consequently many thousands of workers had disposable income in their pockets and coupled with the building of the railways had a ready made solution as to how to travel to Blackpool.
When the tower opened it charged sixpence for admission and sixpence more for a ride to the top in the newly built lifts which at that time were novel invention and one 99% of the population had never ridden in. A circus was placed in the basement and visitors could choose to see one of it’s performances for another sixpence per person.
Maintenance of the Tower has always been problematic and routine repairs were ignored for nearly thirty years from 1897, so much so there were prolonged discussions within the managing company as to whether to demolish it. Happily they relented and repairs were authorized leading to a partial rebuild from 1921 – 1924 where all the steel beams on the structure were replaced or renewed.
This rebuild led to a far more intensive preventative maintenance program being put in place which served the structure well until 2010 when it was sold to Blackpool Council who routinely inspected the Tower and found that the years, and the winds and rain off the Irish sea had taken their toll and that £6 Million pounds worth of repairs were needed.
Blackpool Council made several statements at the time saying that part of the money had to be borrowed on the commercial markets and that the project would take several years. This led to a move-able platform being affixed to the exterior of the Tower wrapping round the entire structure. This allowed the workmen easy and safe access to the areas of the structure they needed to repair.
The downside of course is it led to an ugly plastic covered scar on the outside of the structure which could be moved up and down as required to access the needed areas. A feature both visitors and locals could see on the Tower practically from every part of the town. Not to mention the noise from sandblasting the structure to remove the iron oxide paint.
The good news is as of yesterday 31st March 2016, the repairs have been finished and the scaffolding removed. The first time for almost 6 years…..
Blackpool Visitors can now enjoy the marvel of Blackpool Tower in the way the architects intended in just the same way as their parents, Grandparents and Great Grandparents did.
Don’t forget if you are looking for a cheap family hotel in Blackpool for your visit Moorbank House will fit the bill.