Memory Lane: Towering achievement

Commemorative cake to mark the re-opening of Blackpool Tower ballroom after the 1956 fire
Commemorative cake to mark the re-opening of Blackpool Tower ballroom after the 1956 fire
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A HUGE cake, but – appropriately perhaps – not a candle in sight...

For this wholly-edible construction was a scale model of Blackpool Tower, commissioned to mark the re-opening in May 1958 of the seafront attraction’s ballroom which had been destroyed by fire 17 months earlier.

The cake is fondly remembered by Barrie Hall, of Lytham Road, South Shore, who, from the age of 11, helped to fill the vans at Sutton’s Bakery, Adrian Street, where his mum Mildred, brother John and sister Olive all worked.

He says: “When I left school in 1955 I became an apprentice baker and confectioner at Sutton’s, where I stayed until 1966, and I can honestly say that Mr Gordon Sutton was the best boss I ever had, a true gentleman.

“The bakery supplied both the Winter Gardens and the Tower with bread, cakes and the best pork patties in Blackpool – I know that because I ate plenty of them!

“Sutton’s were asked to make a commemoration cake for the re-opening of the Tower Ballroom, and the prestigious job was given to confectioner Ken Brackley, a real craftsman who made birthday, wedding and special occasion cakes.

“The tin was made specially by W Holder, of Back Clare Street. Ken made and piped every single piece of the cake, even the Tower itself.

“It was done on a large table in what was a stockroom nicknamed Ken’s Den. He was a true Cockney and when I burst into his den, just as he was about to put the top of the Tower cake together, I made him jump and a piece broke off. Plenty of Cockney rhyming slang was shouted!”

Barrie says that when the cake was finished and ready to take to the Tower there was no way it could be carried downstairs.

“We realised the stairs were too steep, too narrow and there was not enough head height. So it was put on to a thick board and sent down to the front of the building with an electric hoist normally used for taking flour to the floor above.

“A rope was tied to the hoist hook and the cake was lowered down, put into the van and taken to the Tower. Both Ken and Mr Sutton were delighted.”

By the time he was 21, Barrie had progressed to sales supervisor over 14 vans.

And another special cake will no doubt take centre stage on Thursday for a different towering achievement involving Barrie and his family – when mum Mildred celebrates her 102nd birthday at the Highcroft Care Home, Lytham Road, South Shore.