Flat cap safety gear for Tower “stick men”

One of the stick men on Blackpool Tower
One of the stick men on Blackpool Tower
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A fearless Blackpool Tower employee, with no sign of a hard hat or harness, makes a striking image as he paints the structure high above the Promenade.

Reader Joan Butterworth does not know this “stick man”, but pictures like this are a poignant reminder of a family tragedy from a time before the stringent health and safety legislation of today.

Mrs Butterworth, of Fouldrey Avenue, Poulton, says: “My dad, Fred McMinn, was one of these so-called stick men who had the precarious job of scraping and red-leading the Tower.

“It was a never ending job from top to bottom with absolutely no safety measures at all in the early 1920s, just wearing flat caps for head protection from the wind and elements.

“They were rained off with no pay when the weather was too bad.”

She adds: “My dad worked alongside my uncle, Harry McMinn, who was the first man ever to fall to his death off Blackpool Tower.”

Mrs Butterworth says: “He fell from a scaffold at the 364ft level as he attempted to secure a corner of the tarpaulin sheet supposedly protecting them from the gale.

“Unbelievably this tragedy did not even make the front page of The Gazette and on October 24, 1925 there was just a six inch column on one of the inside pages under a headline ‘Workman Falls 300 Feet’.

“Oh how editorial times, not to mention health and safety, have changed. That was definitely not one of those good old days,” says Mrs Butterworth.

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