Did you know that a replica of the most famous tower in the world was built in the northwest of England?
In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of Blackpool Tower facts.
1. It’s located along the northwest coast of England
Blackpool is located in the county of Lancashire on the northwest coast of England, just north of the major cities Liverpool and Manchester. It turned from a small fishing village into a large seaside resort in the 19th century. This made it the perfect place to create a popular tourist attraction.
The tower is located right along the beach of what is referred to as the “Fylde Coast” and is undoubtedly Blackpool’s most prominent landmark, standing 518 feet 9 inches (158.12 meters) tall.
2. It was based upon a famous tower in Paris
The idea for the tower came from the mayor of Blackpool at the time, Sir John Bickerstaffe. He served as the Mayor of Blackpool from 1889 until 1891 and had visited the World Fair of 1889 in Paris, of which the Eiffel Tower was the centerpiece.
He was so impressed with the tower in Paris that he decided to build a replica in his own town which would serve as a tourist attraction. After all, he had seen Blackpool grow from an obscure fishing village into the bustling resort it had become at the time.
3. A corporation was formed to raise funds for the tower
Sir John Bickerstaffe didn’t waste any time when he came back home from Paris because just 1 year later in 1890, he created a corporation called the “Blackpool Tower Company” as a subsidiary of the London-based Standard Contract & Debenture Corporation.
He became the chairman of the company and started raising money for the project, offering £150,000 worth of shares to the public. Since not many people from Blackpool had seen the Eiffel Tower, they didn’t initially share his enthusiasm.
It was a bit of a struggle but the company eventually managed to raise the £300,000 needed for the construction to start.
4. It took 3 years to complete the tower’s construction
The foundation stone of the tower was laid on September 29, 1891, and it took less than 3 years to complete the structure. The tower was officially opened on May 14, 1894.
It was an instant success as people were lining up to pay sixpence for entrance and another sixpence for going to the top of the tower. Just 2 years later, the company was making a profit of £30,000 in a single year!
5. The tower’s two architects didn’t live to see the completed tower
The tower was designed by two Lancashire architects named James Maxwell and Charles Tuke who had formed the “Maxwell and Tuke” architectural firm. Structural engineering was in the hands of a Manchester-based company called Heenan & Froude.
While both of the founding partners of this firm were present when the foundation stone was laid, they didn’t manage to see the tower completed as they both died in 1893, the year before it was completed.
6. Blackpool Tower is much more than just a tower
Even though the tower is the most prominent feature, Blackpool Tower is the name of the complex that consists of numerous tourist attractions. At the base of the tower there’s a huge entertainment facility that features:
- The Circus
- The Ballroom
- Madame Tussauds Blackpool
- Sea Life
- Miniature Golf
- The Blackpool Dungeon
Is that enough, you think?
You can basically spend the entire day enjoying all these amazing attractions that are located at the base of the tower, without actually going up the tower itself (even though that’s amazing too)!
7. It’s managed by a famous entertainment company
The entire complex was owned by the Bickerstaffe family until 1964 when it was bought by EMI. It wasn’t until the year 2010 that the tower was sold to the Blackpool Council which now completely owns the complex.
The tourist attractions are managed by the world-famous Merlin Entertainment Group which manages tourist attractions all around the world, including all of the Madame Tussauds Museums, all Sea Life attractions, numerous Legoland parks, and multiple other attractions such as the London Eye and Warwick Castle.
8. The tower has one key difference with the Eiffel Tower
One of the most interesting Blackpool Tower facts is that it’s not considered to be a free-standing structure like the Eiffel Tower.
It actually has a base that is hidden from sight as it’s integrated into the 3-story red brick building that serves as the location for the various entertainment venues.
9. The tower caused a shipwreck a few years after it was completed
One of the most peculiar Blackpool Tower facts is that it actually caused a major disaster not too long after it was completed. A Norwegian ship called the “Abana” was sailing from Liverpool to Savannah in Georgia, United States, and the crew thought that the tower was a lighthouse during a severe storm.
The crew was too late to realize the mistake they made and it drifted off to a place called Little Bispham where she was wrecked on December 22, 1894. The remains of this wreck can still be seen on the beach at low tide.
10. The observation deck offers amazing views and a glass “Skywalk”
One of the most popular attractions of the Blackpool Tower is its observation deck. It’s located at a height of 380 feet (120 meters) which makes it the highest observation deck in the northwest of England.
Since Merlin took over the management of the complex, this has been rebranded from the “Tower Top” to the “Blackpool Tower Eye.”
Before going to the top, visitors get to see a 4D film that not only explains the history of the tower but also makes the tower blast off like a rocket!
11. The ballroom is one of the tower’s most popular venues
One of the most popular venues inside the entertainment complex is the Tower Ballroom. It was originally constructed in the year 1894 and has been the venue for numerous important events.
The current ballroom was completely renovated in 1956 after a fire and consists of 30,602 blocks of mahogany, oak, and walnut and the dance floor has a total size of 120 × 102 feet (37 × 31 meters).
It was the venue of the popular BBC series “Come Dancing” for multiple decades and hosted editions of “Strictly Come Dancing,” including two grand finals in 2004 and 2011.
12. The circus has been performing shows since 1894
Another popular attraction that has been around since the early days of the tower’s existence is the Tower Circus. In fact, there have been non-stop performances every season since it opened to the public on May 14, 1894.
Animals haven’t been used in the circus since 1990 and the ring of the circus can be lowered and turned into a massive pool which results in an amazing finale of the shows.
It’s quite a different show than the mock naval battles at the Colosseum in Rome though, which was the first arena in the world that could fill up with water to completely change the setting.
The Blackpool Tower Circus is 1 of just 4 venues in the world that can do this, pretty amazing!
13. The original aquarium was replaced with a dungeon
Before the Blackpool Tower was constructed, the location housed another tourist attraction called “Dr. Cocker’s Aquarium, Aviary and Menagerie” since 1873. The company that built the tower bought this aquarium to earn more money for its construction, and it became one of the most popular attractions at the tower’s opening.
The attraction also houses other wild animals such as lions, tigers, and polar bears but this section was closed with the opening of the Blackpool Zoo in 1973.
The aquarium was part of the entertainment facility of the tower until 2010 but was closed when Merlin took over as they already opened the nearby Sea Life. After this, the original aquarium was turned into a new attraction called the “Blackpool Dungeon.”
14. The maintenance crew has a special nickname
You don’t get featured in the BBC series “Britain’s toughest jobs” for nothing. Maintaining the Blackpool Tower is no easy task and you surely can’t be afraid of heights. It takes about 7 years for the tower to be repainted because the windy conditions make it extremely difficult.
Because of this, the maintenance crew has earned themselves the nickname “Stick Men.”
15. The tower is illuminated once a year
The tower sued to be illuminated all year long until local astronomers and stargazers started complaining about the light pollution. The tower still has over 5 miles (8 kilometers) of cables to support the 10,000 light bulbs integrated into the structure though.
Therefore, it has been decided that the tower will still be illuminated along with the entire Blackpool promenade once a year, an event simply referred to as the “Annual Illuminations.”
It looks pretty amazing indeed!
Quick Blackpool Tower facts
16. On opening day on May 14, 1894, 3,000 people took a ride to the top of the Blackpool Tower.
17. A staggering 5,000,000 Accrington bricks, 3,478 long tonnes (3,534 tonnes) of steel, and 352 long tonnes (358 tonnes) of cast iron were used to construct the tower and its base.
18. Just before the first stone of the tower was laid, a time capsule was buried into the ground below it.
19. The building at the base of the tower covers a total area of 6,040 square yards (5,050 square meters).
20. There’s a flagpole on top of the tower and its exact height is 518 feet 9 inches (158.12 meters) from the ground. Upon completion, Blackpool Tower was the tallest man-made structure in the British Empire!
21. The first time that the tower was hit by fire was in 1897 when the top floor caught fire. This fire could be seen from a distance of over 50 miles (80 kilometers) away.
22. Blackpool Tower was almost demolished in the early 20th century because it wasn’t maintained well and became corroded. Instead of demolishing it, all the steel in the tower was replaced between 1920 and 1924.
23. The observation deck of the Blackpool Tower had to make way for the Royal Air Force during World War II. They tried to turn the tower into a radar station and called the Tower the “RAF Tower.” The attempt didn’t succeed.
24. The fire in the ballroom caused massive damage in 1967 and it took nearly 2 years for the restorations to be completed at a total cost of £500,000.
25. The grand finales of the Blackpool Tower Circus take place in a pool that is filled with 42,000 imperial gallons (190,000 liters) of water at a depth of up to 4 feet 6 inches (1.37 meters).
26. If there’s a wind of 45 miles per hour (72 km/h), you’re out of luck as the top of the tower is closed then. If the wind reaches a speed of 70 miles per hour (110 km/h), the top of the tower sways by 1 inch (2.54 centimeters).
27. Blackpool Tower has been a Grade I Listed building since 1973 and celebrated its 125th anniversary in May 2019!