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Blackpool Sea Water Works, site of
149 Dickson Road, Blackpool, Lancashire
Blackpool Sea Water Works, site of
associated engineer
Not known
date  circa 1876
era  Victorian  |  category  Water Supply/Pipes  |  reference  SD307371
ICE reference number  HEW 1341
photo  Paul Dunkerley / ICE R&D Fund
This four storey building was until 1983, home to Blackpool's Sea Water Works. Thought to be unique, the works were constructed some time around 1876. They pumped water from the foreshore, clarified it and stored it for supply to the town's public bathing establishments and hydropathic hotels.
We don't have an exact date for the establishment of the works but in 1876, the Claremont Estate Company was working on the cliffs of the North Shore — making slopes and laying stone pitchers. The Sea Water Works is thought to date from this period, as the original water intake point was situated at the base of the earth cliffs.
The massive concrete and stone North Shore coastal protection works were constructed in 1895-99. The contractor was Robert Finnegan and in 1896, his tender was accepted for a new intake for the water works. This took the form of a masonry dome with a large central ‘eye’ to let in the water. In later years, the dome was replaced by a cast iron inlet ‘rose’ with small holes. It was set in a concrete pit near the base of the sloping granite apron in front of the sea wall opposite the Carlton Hotel.
From the intake point, when the tide was in, the sea water made its way inland to the works. The first part of the journey was though a cast iron inlet suction pipe sitting in a 177m-long brick culvert, 1.2m in diameter. This ran under Lower Walk, Middle Walk, Queen's Promenade and Dickson Road to the bottom of a circular brick shaft, 21m deep and 2.75m in diameter.
At this point, the intake pipe divided and sent the water through two pumps, then rejoined as a 300mm rising main, which delivered the sea water to the ground floor level of the Dickson Road building. From here it passed into a 331,860 litre concrete tank under the yard, where it was partially purified by sedimentation between tides.
The clarified water was then pumped to 304,580 litre cast iron storage tank that used to be on the roof of the building. The water was then distributed through a network of sea water mains that ran along The Promenade to local hydropathic hotels, public baths and the Tower Aquarium. Hydropathic hotels, such as the nearby Imperial Hotel, were offering special baths and health-related water treatments.
By the 1980s, there were only two users left for the sea water supply— the Tower Aquarium and the Manchester Square Pumping Station. The pumping station was filling road tankers, which the local council used for street washing. This eventually became uneconomical and the council ordered the closure of the Sea Water Works in 1983.
After that date, the lower tank and the building were used as the training pool and headquarters of a local sub-aqua club, and more recently it had a commercial tenant. In recent years, the roof tank was replaced by a pitched tiled roof. Following a major electrical fire in 2006, the building had to be demolished. This was done in June and July of 2007.
Contractor: Robert Finnegan (1896 intake)
Research: PD and PJD
bibliography
West Lancashire Evening Gazette, Wed 12th October 1893
The Gazette, 27th July, 2007
Location

Blackpool Sea Water Works, site of