Blackpool Tower Ballroom
February 4, 2012 at 1:36 pm
The Blackpool Tower Ballroom, located in the Blackpool Tower complex was formally known as the Tower Pavillion. It was built in 1894 and designed by Frank Matcham, who designed Blackpool Grand Theatre, Elephant and Castle theatre in London, and over 200 palaces and theatres in the UK between 1890 and 1915. For someone who inherited their father’s architectural firm at the age of 24, Frank Matcham gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “learning on the job”. He had no formal training, yet took up architect design with such fervour, that he became the most famous English theatrical architect of his time. He invented the use of steel cantilevers in his designs, and took out a patent. This meant that pillars, which blocked sightlines, were no longer needed to support upper balconies. This meant more punters; this shrewd business move saw Frank Matcham’s business prosper. Blackpool Tower Ballroom events Most famous in recent times for hosting Strictly Come Dancing events, including the finals in 2004 and December 2011, the Tower Ballroom is home to resident Empress Orchestra, and Empress Dance Band Group. There is a resident organist, Phil Kelsall, who has been there since 1975. He came to the ballroom from his start in the Tower Circus. The most famous resident of the Blackpool Tower Ballroom is organist Reginald Dixon, who continues a line of long-serving organists and played there between 1930 to 1970. He played the Wulitzer he specially designed, with a more bouncy sound, and became known for creating the “Blackpool Sound”. He played the organ almost continually for dance shows and BBC broadcasts, apart from on Sundays, when music traditionally “rested”. The Blackpool Tower is a Grade 1 listed heritage building, and alongside being a stunning example of Victorian design, the interior, was decorated in the style of the luxurious Paris Opera. Two balconies run on each side, with shallow dips allowing maximum visibility. Chairs are richly decorated , with plush velvet, and gold leaf adornment. The soft ovoid shapes and intricate plasterwork create a regal impact. Gold, auburn, and autumnal colours, lead up to the exquisitely decorated ceiling; featuring Pre-Raphaelite paintings of cherubs, and theatrical symbolism. An oval skylight allows daylight to trickle, creating an enhanced golden light effect that is truly stunning. The giant crystal chandeliers refract light, creating an elegant ambience. The stage allows for a variety of performances and shows to be held. The ground floor can be cleared for dancing, or the Blackpool Tower Ballroom fully seats 3000. Whatever you go to see when you are in Blackpool, the Blackpool Tower Ballroom interior, is worth the visit alone.