Blackpool Tower wins civil engineering heritage award

Blackpool Tower
Image caption Blackpool Tower on the promenade opened in the seaside resort in 1894

More than 120 years after it was built, Blackpool Tower has won a heritage award.

The structure was given the first North West Civil Engineering Heritage Award by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).

ICE said the tower was "possibly the most instantly recognisable work of civil engineering in the country" and "all about having fun".

It beat 12 other entries including Manchester's Victoria Station.

The £44m redevelopment of the railway station won instead the Large Project Award at a ceremony held in Cumbria on Friday.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A pageant along Blackpool's promenade is led by Britain's "Cotton Queen" passing the tower in 1930

Other contenders for the heritage award were Thomas Telford's Nantwich Aqueduct in Cheshire, John Rennie's Old Tram Bridge in Preston and the 200-year-old Wigan Flight of 23 locks on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

North West regional director of ICE Darrell Matthews said the tower was "a really interesting nomination" because civil engineering was usually associated with "highly practical things like railways and bridges" whereas Blackpool Tower is "all about having fun".

But he added: "There's no doubting the engineering skill that went into designing and building it, so it's a very worthy winner. The Blackpool Tower is possibly the most instantly recognisable work of civil engineering in the UK."

Image caption Blackpool Tower is reflected in the water left in the sand at low tide on the beach - the North Pier can be seen on the horizon

Chris Hudson from ICE's Lancashire branch said: "Blackpool Promenade itself is a fantastic showcase of civil engineering old and new - the piers, the sea defences, the tramway - and they're all amazing works of engineering in their own ways.

"But Blackpool Tower literally stands tall. In fact it's 518 feet and nine inches of monument to civil engineering genius."

Image copyright Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Image caption Two young women are pictured eating ice cream in front of Blackpool Tower circa 1958
Image caption Visitors can now look down on the streets below the tower through a glass "skywalk" floor at the top

How does the Tower measure up

Image caption Spot the difference- Blackpool Tower's design was inspired by its Parisian cousin the Eiffel Tower
  • The seafront tower opened in 1894 and more than 3,000 people ascended it on the opening day
  • Its design is inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris
  • Nine tons of paint are needed to cover the tower
  • The tower is 158m or 518ft
  • The Grade-I listed landmark has been owned by the council since 2010
  • The tower was restored in 2011 and underwent a major 10-month restoration programme
  • On a clear day the tower can be seen from north Wales and the Lake District
  • The glass Skywalk is 5cm thick and can hold the weight of two elephants

Source: The Blackpool Tower

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Donkey rides are held on the beach in front of the tower in May 1956
Image copyright John Giles/PA Wire
Image caption Large waves hit the seafront at Blackpool when the remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo blew into Britain in 2014
Image copyright Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Image caption Blackpool by night - the illuminated tower reflected in the sea
Image caption The famous Tower Ballroom attracts thousands of visitors

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