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
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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
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.
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 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.
THE AQUATIC AND VARIETY CIRCUS.
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
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.