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Tower Buildings

A Grade I Listed Building in Talbot, Blackpool

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Latitude: 53.8159 / 53°48'57"N

Longitude: -3.0552 / 3°3'18"W

OS Eastings: 330621

OS Northings: 436033

OS Grid: SD306360

Mapcode National: GBR ZJN.K1

Mapcode Global: WH858.1BDZ

Plus Code: 9C5RRW8V+9W

Entry Name: Tower Buildings

Listing Date: 10 October 1973

Last Amended: 20 October 1983

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1205810

English Heritage Legacy ID: 183675

Location: Talbot, Blackpool, FY1

County: Blackpool

Electoral Ward/Division: Talbot

Built-Up Area: Blackpool

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lancashire

Church of England Parish: Blackpool St John

Church of England Diocese: Blackburn

Tagged with: Observation tower Entertainment centre Tourist attraction Music venue Theatre Ballroom

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SD 33 NW

Tower Buildings

(formerly listed as The Tower, including the Ballroom)

Entertainment complex 1891-94; architects Maxwell and Tuke, engineer R.J.G. Reade, contractors Heenan and Froude. Consists of imitation of Eiffel Tower, surrounded by brick-faced quadrilateral block of three unequal storeys containing principally: Ballroom over ground floor cafe at north end; Circus in centre; and aquarium (altered) on ground floor and Roof Gardens on top floor of south end.

Tower of open steel girders. Square plan; four concrete foundation blocks 35 feet square and 12 feet thick with rolled steel joists and steel bedplates support four square-braced stanchions, each consisting of four pillars braced together with lattice girders, tapering in the height from 100 feet width at base to 30 feet width under main gallery, which is enclosed in glass, with three open galleries above. Ogee shaped cap, topped with flagmast terminating 518 feet above ground.

Ballroom: originally promenade and concert room, enlarged and reconstructed in 1899 by Maxwell and Tuke with decoration by Frank Matcham executed by De Jong. Restored 1956 by Andrew Mazzei, after fire damage. Rectangular plan along north side of Tower buildings, rising from first floor level, with galleries on two levels along north, west and south sides, and proscenium at east end. Seven bays, with square columns passing through galleries, topped by winged herms between cross vaults bearing overhanging convex balustrade over each bay; panels within vaults decorated with cartouches displaying names of composers. First gallery straight, second gallery composed of convex bays passing columns, and curved round west end of ballroom: both faced with rocaille mouldings. At east end galleries terminate in squinch-set box with onion-dome, openings now screened with curvilinear lattice. Rectangular proscenium, containing canted wings with doorways, flanked by fluted columns; canopy, with lattice and rocaille moulding, bearing curved and lettered cornice and massive swan-neck pediment, with Three Graces between. Vaulted ceiling has large rocaille panels containing Baroque paintings, and oval-ended skylight in centre.

Circus: Arena, 1891-4 by Maxwell and Tuke, originally in Chinese style, remodelled 1900 (probably by Frank Matcham) in Islamic style. Square plan between feet of Tower, rising from basement level to include innermost stanchion of each leg and the inner of each pair of arched braces between stanchions. These structural elements are incorporated into comprehensively Moorish-Islamic design. Arches have soffits cusped in vigorously rhythmic sequence of multifoil arches, with matching but subdued patterns in relief on the sides; pendentives filled with five-sided and inverted-pyramidal structure of composite design, with cusp-profiled horse-shoe opening above. Base of stanchions boxed with marble slabs. Recessed straight-fronted balconies under arches at springer level, decorated with low relief pattern of interlacing arches; screened mezzanine balcony on north side, with seven fretted windows. Boxes incorporated with stanchions, square at south east corner, convex at north west, with scallop-shell and foliated moulding on front. Dado of promenade behind seating has glazed tiles with geometrical pattern. Other wall surfaces and ceiling decorated with calligraphic detail, interlaced arches, stylized scallops, fan patterns, etc. Reservoir under ring for aquatic displays.

Roof Garden, now free-flight aviary. Two parallel and adjoining pitched roofs of glass on iron frame, on south side of roof of Tower buildings. Eight bays; slim composite columns with stiff-leaf capitals supporting semi-circular longitudinal arcading with cross-braced girders above; semi-circular roof braces springing from corbels at spandrel level of columns, with arabesque open work in spandrels and at apex. Clerestory of plain windows with glazing bars over south arcade, with segmental aisle, glass-covered, descending to eaves level of outer wall.

There have been successive alterations to function and decoration of other parts of the interior of the Tower building, with fragments of earlier chinoiserie in top floor on west side; but massive staircase in red terracotta, rising from main entrance on west side, survives intact.

Listing NGR: SD3062136033

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