The History Anorak

The History Anorak

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Blackpool Tower

*Blackpool Tower is one of the iconic images of northwest England. At 518 feet high (158 metres) the Grade I listed structure is the 103rd tallest free standing tower in the world. It was inspired by the Eiffel Tower.

It's nationally known as the traditional home of ballroom dancing, and it is currently the venue for a highlight of the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing. It also houses a circus ring, a high-rise observation deck with a glass floor, a 'house of horror' dungeon attraction, and the flagship branch of fish and chip chain Harry Ramsden's.

The architects were James Maxwell and Charles Tuke, two Lancashire men, but the structural engineers in charge of the project were Worcester-based Heenan and Froude. Construction took five million bricks, 2,500 tonnes of steel and 93 tonnes of cast iron.

The Tower opened on May 14, 1894 and on that day more than 3,000 people rode lifts to the top. By the 1890s seaside holidays were becoming popular. The 1871 Bank Holidays Act had created official public holidays throughout the year, and the growing railway network made travel easier and affordable for working families.

Blackpool had had a railway connection since the 1840s and by the time the Tower opened the town already had a promenade and many other seaside favourites: fish and chip shops, pubs, donkey rides, and gypsy fortune tellers. All three piers were complete, the South Pier opened just a year before the Tower. The world-famous illuminations opened in 1879.

The Tower was just the latest attraction designed to encourage holidaymakers and day trippers to part with their money. It cost sixpence (2.5p) to go inside, sixpence to ride the lift to the top, and another sixpence to watch the circus in the building below. The average wage at the time was £1 a week. A Blackpool Tower Circus ticket would cost you the best part of £20 today.

* As promised a couple of posts ago - more about Blackpool.


  1. I remember as a child being taken to the circus there. The whole area filled up with water at the end and all the performers were standing on little islands in the water like statues. I also vaguely remember being taken around the back afterwards to see animals in cages, I didn't like that. It wouldn't be done now I expect:)

  2. Great to read more about the home of the ballroom! Are you enjoying strictly? xx

    1. I always get very involved with Strictly! Not sure who my favourite is yet this year. There are a number of possible winners in the line up.

  3. I remember many Bank Holiday day trips to Blackpool when I was a child, we lived in Cheshire so it was easy to get there. I remember listening to Reginald Dixon playing the organ, watching a troupe of children dancing (professionally I rather think) and dancing in the ballroom with my dad who was a very good ballroom dancer.

  4. The Blackpool Tower looks impressive. I have seen some episodes of BBC's Strictly Come Dancing... Now I know!

  5. It is first time to see the Blackpool in the northwest England.
    Visitors must have much enjoyed with the beautiful attraction!
    Happy weekend to you!

  6. Impresive detail - and I love the night shot. Alas, I find Blackpool a little tawdry - it is awful in the evenings - though the beach, views and piers are great. PS I watch 'Strictly' sometimes, but don't tell the lads down the pub, will you?


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