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Princess Parade Colonnade
Queens Promenade, Blackpool, Lancashire
Princess Parade Colonnade
associated engineer
John Shanks Brodie
date  1912
era  Modern  |  category  Walls/Abutments/Cuttings  |  reference  SD305365
ICE reference number  HEW 1258
photo  Paul Dunkerley / ICE R&D Fund
Blackpool has a number of interesting structures that show developments in concrete construction technology. The curved Princess Parade Colonnade is an early example of reinforced concrete. It also combines precast and in situ concrete elements.
Essentially a 174m long retaining wall, the Colonnade is situated just north of North Pier. It curves seawards and back again in front of the Metropole Hotel, on the western side of Queen's Promenade. The area of land it retains is currently used as the hotel's car park.
Down at the Princess Parade level, promenaders are presented with a colonnaded walkway. Its columns are made of precast concrete and founded on mass concrete pads. Starting from the southern end, the colonnade begins with a 21m stretch of wall with recessed panels. This is followed by a 3.6m column bay and then 13 bays at 6m wide, a 2.75m bay that once housed steps up to the car park, and lastly, five 6m bays. The recessed panel decoration runs the full length.
The Colonnade consists of the wall, a horizontal 'roof' slab, a ring beam and the precast columns. An open parapet of precast concrete balusters with a concrete coping rail runs the full length of the structure above the ring beam, providing a safety rail at car park level.
The horizontal slabs, one per bay, are 152mm thick and span 2.75m from the wall to the ring beam. The beam is 685mm deep by 445mm wide. It is reinforced in the Hennebique manner — with twisted square section main steel bars and flat hoop iron straps. This contrasts with modern reinforcing, which uses round profile or ribbed section bars. The whole structure is made up of small precast elements, each with their own reinforcing.
The Colonnade was designed by the then Borough Surveyor, John Shanks Brodie, who is also responsible for large sections of Blackpool's basalt-faced sea walls. His design for the Colonnade included timber partitions between column bays but it is not clear if these were ever built.
In recent years, differential rates of settlement of the columns' foundation pads caused the columns to crack and they had to be replaced in the 1980s.
Contractor: J. Parkinson & Sons
research: PHEW
reference sources   CEH North
Location

Princess Parade Colonnade