1. ITV Report

A monument to the British seaside holiday: Blackpool Tower celebrates its 125th birthday

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Ben Chapman

For 125 years, Blackpool Tower has been lighting up the Lancashire coast.

Since 1894, Blackpool Tower, a grade I listed building, has been a monument to the British seaside holiday and for many visitors today, it still is.

To celebrate its landmark birthday, the attraction harked back to its Victorian past.

As visitors entered the structure today, they were welcomed by The Blackpool Tower staff in traditional Victorian outfits, commonplace when the attraction first opened to the public.

Hundreds gathered in the Tower's famous ballroom to mark the special occasion.

Resident organist for more than 40 years, Phil Kelsall MBE, played Happy Birthday at a special afternoon tea.

Blackpool Tower staff in traditional Victorian outfits. Credit: Blackpool Tower

Honoured guests and friends of The Blackpool Tower enjoyed a special event inside its Ballroom where they were treated to entertainment from familiar Blackpool faces.

Performances by Phil Kelsall, MBE, The Blackpool Tower’s resident organist for more than 40 years and stars from The Blackpool Tower Circus thrilled visitors in the packed out Blackpool Tower Ballroom before a giant 125 cake was cut by the tower team.

Family of Blackpool icons were also invited to take part in the celebrations. These included relatives of Sir John Bickerstaffe, who was instrumental in building the attraction, Reginald Dixon, Blackpool’s most famous organist between 1930 and 1970 as well as Charlie Cairoli, the resident clown of The Blackpool Tower Circus for decades.

The celebrations will continue late in to the evening with a VIP reception at The Blackpool Tower Eye featuring a DJ set by BBC Radio 1 DJ, Danny Howard.

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This has been a truly monumental day. It is such a privilege to be involved with this iconic building on such a momentous occasion.

The Blackpool Tower holds a special place in the hearts of countless people. I have spoken to hundreds of guests who have been visiting our beautiful attraction for decades. So many stories and memories about The Blackpool Tower have been shared today that make you realise what this place means to generations of British people. It is a proud moment for me and my team.

– Kenny Mew, general manager at The Blackpool Tower
Kenny Mew, general manager at The Blackpool Tower Credit: Blackpool Tower

The Blackpool Tower plans a year-long celebration for its 125th anniversary with activities throughout 2019 and into 2020.

The Blackpool Tower Fact File

  • Old attractions at The Blackpool Tower include an aviary, aquarium and menagerie.
  • It used to take The Blackpool Tower team approximately seven years to paint the building from top to bottom.
  • When The Blackpool Tower opened it cost a sixpence to enter. Now it’s free to enter and explore.
  • There’s a post box located in The Blackpool Tower Eye making it one of the highest post boxes in the country.
  • The Blackpool Tower has struggled to find someone brave enough to clean the windows 380ft in the air – but today, in its 125th year – it has finally found someone brave enough!
  • The Blackpool Tower sparked the resort’s reputation as a seaside holiday destination. Over 3,000 people lined the promenade on its opening day in 1894 to see the impressive views.
  • Famous faces who have visited The Blackpool Tower include Hollywood director Tim Burton, Princess Diana, Take That and even King Kong himself who was seen swinging from The Blackpool Tower in 1984.
  • Up until 1990, The Blackpool Tower Circus show featured animals including lions, polar bears, tigers and elephants.
  • The Blackpool Tower previously generated its own electricity until 1924.
  • Every year, a team of engineers scale the building to check and replace the 25,000 light bulbs that illuminate The Blackpool Tower at night.
Blackpool Tower - 1967. The tower has been the beating heart of Blackpool's tourism for 125 years. Credit: PA Images