Lytham St.Annes Coat of Arms
Lytham St.Annes, Lancashire, England


An illustrated guide to Blackpool Tower, 1899.


Blackpool Tower, c1899.The Blackpool Tower and Buildings—situated on Central Promenade—form one of the most imposing and interesting places of entertainment in the town. The site was originally occupied by an Aquarium, Market Hotel, and shops, and on these being demolished the present palatial buildings and Tower were erected to the designs of Messrs. Maxwell and Tuke.

The Tower proper is supported by four leg foundations embedded in concrete-each leg consisting of four pillars braced together with lattice girders, and further strengthened by being braced together with the main girders: The total weight of steel used in the construction is upwards of 2,400 tons.

The two elevators start from a picturesque feature of the main building set out and fitted up after the manner of an " Olde Englyshe Village." The lifts, which run independently of each other, are each capable of holding 45 passengers, but, with full regard to safety, no more than 30 are taken up at one time. The weight of the cars and passengers combined can never exceed 10 tons, and against this the seven steel cables attached to each car have been tested to carry at least 100 tons. As a further precaution, safety brakes, which would come into automatic operation if anything was to happen to the descent of the cars, are attached to each lift.



Birds Eye View from Blackpool Tower c1899.The main balcony, where the car stops; is 380 feet from the ground. This balcony—which is protected with glass surroundings—has an area of 40 feet. Starting from this level two staircases lead to open-air platforms at the respective heights of 390, 400, and 420 feet. Two further staircases lead to higher platforms, and two single ladders finally lead to the top basket, or "Crow's Nest," situate over 500 feet from the ground, the summit being crowned with a fine steel flag-staff. The high altitude of the aerial balconies, together with the Tower's commanding location, furnishes an unique opportunity of obtaining marine, town, and landscape panoramas such as no other erection can offer. The lifts run every few minutes during the season.

The Entrance.

The Entrance Hall, Blackpool Tower c1899.The Tower buildings—at the base of the Tower itself—are noted for their compact design, unique allocation, and beauty of decoration. The exteriors are of fine red brick and terra-cotta ; an ornamental balcony running around three sides of the block.

The main entrances, on the promenade, lead into a grand entrance hall, set out with seats, mirrors, plants, etc., and decorated with beautiful Doulton ware. Two wide staircases give access to the upper rooms. To the right, on the ground floor, is the entrance to the Aquarium.



The Aquarium

The Aquarium, Blackpool Tower c1899.This section is fitted up with artificial rock-work, columns, stalactites, etc., in imitation of the celebrated Poole's Cavern at Buxton, Derbyshire, and so well has the model been copied that it is almost impossible to detect where the artificial begins and the real rock ends.

The fish tanks, illuminated with electricity, are placed in the centre and around the sides of the aquarium, and these are kept well stocked with rare and interesting specimens. A powerful and very valuable orchestrion supplies choice music.

A staircase at the east end leads to the menagerie, monkey-house, and aviary. In this section the ordinary objections in connection with animal collections are obviated by specially-constructed cages and the introduction of air currents by large electric fans. The collection of animals and birds is regarded as one of the finest in the country—the lions, tigers, and polar bears being an exceptionally fine lot of beasts.

Advert for Blackpool Tower c1899.The roof gardens—on the upper floor—are reached by various ways. The gardens are constructed after the style of the Crystal Palace—the building being of light ornamental iron work filled in with glass. A varied rock-work scheme—which extends along the adjoining balconies—makes a pretty background to rare and pleasing creepers, palms, ferns, and flowering and ornamental foliage plants.

At the west end of the gardens a new café chantant stage—backed entirely with mirrors, and illuminated with incandescent lamps of floral pattern—has recently been added for the purpose of allowing variety entertainments, orchestral, and military band concerts. The roof girders are studded with vari-coloured electric lamps, and a very pretty evening effect is thus obtained.

Adjoining the roof gardens is the "Olde Englyshe Village." This section is devoted to bazaar attractions, the construction of each stall being in accordance with the title. Balconies on the east and west side of the village connect the roof gardens with the grand ballroom pavilion.

The Ballroom

This renowned room has lately undergone a wonderful transformation, in accordance with designs prepared by Mr. F. Matcham. The old room has been lifted 15 feet in height and given an additional 15 feet in breadth, 7 feet 6 inches on either side, The balconies have been raised, and at the west, or seaward end, an admirably sloped gallery capable of seating 600 people, and of accommodating some 200 more at the back, has been introduced.

The Ballroom, Blackpool Tower c1899The roof arrangements are another special feature of the reconstruction. The oval archings converge towards a central roof-opening-50 feet by 20 feet—and over this opening a sliding roof, the only one in Blackpool, has been constructed for use in warm weather. The roof slides in two halves and is arranged so as to be opened or closed in half a minute. The new proscenium, constructed at the east end, is 40 feet wide, 30 feet deep, and 35 high from the ballroom floor. In its construction many architectural improvements are shown. The plastic mouldings and scroll work ornamentation, which is all in the Louis. XV. (the Renaissance) style, has been specially designed for the Tower Company by Mr. Matcham and carried out with marked skill by Messrs. De Jong and Co., of London. The colouring is in the delicate shades of cream, green, blue, grey, and old gold of the Renaissance period, relieved with pure English gold.

The ceiling is squared with ornamentation surrounding six large picture subjects allegorical of a bal masque. Surmounting the proscenium is an elaborate scroll pediment, centred, by three terpsichorean figures and backed by another allegorical painting. The pillars on either side of the stage and the whole of the columns supporting the roof, are covered with green marble. The ground floor promenades are covered with superior velvet pile carpet on a foundation of cork, linoleum and felt. The draperies are of specially designed light terracotta silk brocatelle, trimmed with silk borderings ; the side boxes being draped with beautiful pink terra-cotta velvet. The capping of the balconies and the seating generally is upholstered in horse hair and covered with terra-cotta Utrecht velvet.

The room has a superb parquet floor, resting on springs, and polished to mirror-like reflectiveness. The lighting arrangements, also, are of a most excellent character. The ballroom is at once a palace and a work of art, and the Tower Company have every justification, therefore, for declaring it to be the most magnificently decorated ballroom in Europe. During the season, afternoon vocal and variety concerts are given ; the evenings being reserved for dancing and other intermediate attractions. An orchestra of high-class reputation is engaged for the musical portion of the season's programme.



Advert for Blackpool Tower c1899.The Tower Aquatic and Variety Circus—adjoining the main entrance to the Tower buildings—is located inside the legs of the Tower. The interior arrangements are of a unique character. The spacious arena is so constructed as to be rapidly converted into a large cage—for performances with wild animals—or a lake, containing upwards of a million gallons of water. These changes are effected almost instantaneously.

The circular seating accommodation rises in tiers up to a pit promenade, which is backed by further elevated seats, and surmounted by four galleries brought to a square. This arrangement ensures a full view of the arena to every person in the circus. The season performances are contributed to by renowned animal trainers, variety stars, and the world's champion swimmers—the latest new feature being by way of grand water spectacles and carnivals.

The whole of the Tower and premises is lighted with electricity, supplied by the Company's private installation. The General Manager is Mr. Geo. H. Harrop.