The Promenade, Blackpool, Lancashire
29th September 1891 - May 1894
ICE reference number
photo Paul Dunkerley / PHEW
Blackpool Tower is the iconic symbol not only of Blackpool — the largest seaside holiday resort in Europe — but also of the British seaside holiday industry in general. It serves as an observation point and was built in imitation of the Eiffel Tower (1889) in Paris.
Located on Blackpool's seafront, the structure forms part of a complex of buildings, all designed by architects Maxwell & Tuke. The detailed drawings of the steel and cast iron Tower were drawn up by Reade.
The complex was the first major development in the resort to be financed largely by money from outside the town. The company that was to build it, the Blackpool Tower Co., was registered on 19th February 1891. Its aim was to build an observation tower just like the Eiffel Tower, as a tourist attraction.
Blackpool Tower is 158m high to the top of the flagpole and was constructed using 2,533 tonnes of steel and 94 tonnes of cast iron. It has an observatioin platform 146m up. Just like the Eiffel Tower, it has four legs, in this case each leg made up of a further four legs, braced with lattice girders. The main legs are braced horizontally every 9m.
There are two lifts serving a floor 17m above ground. From there, the main lifts carry passengers to the observation platform. Originally, the lifts were operated hydraulically by three Crossley gas engines with two cylinders, with strokes of 9.9m. The 99m ascent took one minute.
The buildings at the base of the tower include two with interiors by the famous theatre designer Frank Matcham — the Circus (1900) and the Ballroom (1899). There is also an aquarium, originally named Dr William Cocker's Aquarium, which was kept open during construction of the tower to provide income. In addition, there are restaurants and amusements.
The Tower and the Ballroom are both Grade I listed.
Architect: Maxwell & Tuke
ClECPK of works: J. Ashley
Site supervision: William Bell, J. Wilcox (tower)
Main contractor: Heenan & Froude (tower and lifts)
Contractors: James Bell (tower), R.Neill & Co (foundations)
"Blackpool Tower", Engineering, 1895
"Blackpool Tower — Description of the Structure &c"
Gazette & News, 11th May 1894