Blackpool Tower’s world-famous ballroom is being prepared to reopen to the public with a £1.1 million refurbishment.
Dancers hope to be allowed back into the venue on June 21, but in the meantime, the ballroom has undergone its most extensive program of work and deep-cleaning for more than 60 years.
A team of highly skilled craftsmen, who worked on projects including the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace, have dedicated more than 21,000 hours over a period of six months, each climbing an average of 85 flights of scaffolding every day to restore the ballroom to its original glory.
During work to angel figures on the ceiling of the ballroom, which first opened in 1894, workers discovered newspapers dating back to 1911, old cigarette packs, and even a walking stick, believed to date back to the 1950s.
The team, led by ornamental plasterwork specialists Hayles and Howe, also found signatures under murals showing the last time anyone was in the space was 1957.
Project manager Keith Langton said: “This really is something else. It is a project I will never forget – and perhaps even a project for me to retire on.
“Everyone wants to end their career on a high, and I don’t think I could get a better high than working at the ballroom.”
The ballroom, which usually hosts an annual Strictly Come Dancing special, has been closed for 12 months due to the pandemic – the longest it has been shut since 1957, when a fire caused severe damage and required 17 months of work for repairs.
The tower’s general manager, Kenny Mew, said he could not wait to reopen.
He said: “The works which have been carried out really are something very special. This is a once-in-a-lifetime project that I feel incredibly fortunate to have been involved in.
“We cannot wait to reopen our doors and invite the public to experience the splendor of the Blackpool Tower Ballroom first-hand, whether they are taking to the dancefloor, enjoying afternoon tea, or simply taking in the incredible surroundings.
The work on the period plasterwork ceiling has been made possible thanks to a grant of £764,000 as part of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund, together with funding from Blackpool Council.
Tamsin Cooke, projects officer at Historic England, said: “It really is incredible to see the work which has gone on here – which is exactly as it would have been carried out when the ballroom was built all those years ago, those traditional methods are still being used today.
“This is a very historical moment for Blackpool.”