All but one of the five maisonette blocks that flanked the towers of Layton have all but gone. In their place a pile of rubble is about to be crushed for foundations.
Charles Court still stands tall but not for much longer. Demolition starts next month – along with the other towers.
All built as testament to the vision of social housing pioneers who stacked them high, rented them cheap, but, as one former resident puts it, “didn’t build them to last.”
Even today the tower blocks exist cheek by jowl with other housing in use. Tenants playing the waiting game, ready to relocate 18 months or so down the line, when Blackpool Coastal Housing give the go-ahead.
They are now witnessing the semi-dereliction of all that was once familiar, and the reinvention of truly social housing in their times, the emphasis on more family homes, a sense of community preserved by the local residents’ association.
These were the terraces of the skies, full of light, laughter and local people when first built. Now they’re empty, services ripped out along with fixtures and fittings. A few curtains flap eerily in the winds.
A walk in wardrobe now opens onto a Narnia of demolition sites. Towers will be deconstructed by contractors Lovells, dismantled panel by panel, much as the blocks were built.
Not blasted, Fred Dibnah-style, into oblivion. Each piece removed along the metal skeleton of the block.
Atop this terrace in the skies, there’s little evidence of what made this place home to a couple of hundred households.
Down below site and surrounds are being cleared of debris. Come March there will be little evidence of what once stood here. Picture it. A Blackpool with only one Tower, as Coun Gillian Campbell, Cabinet member for housing, tells the telly people. “It all starts here.”
The old will be replaced by a new gleaming, modern, low-level housing community.
Ward councillor Gary Coleman captures the moment on his own camera. “We’re changing the skyline forever,” he adds. “It will be worth it but are still issues to be resolved.”
Surprisingly, the lifts still work within Charles Court. It’s cold, damp and draughty since the innards of the building were removed, along with the services.
We stand, at ground zero, waiting to ascend to the 16th floor, then step out onto the roof and see a cracking view of Blackpool and beyond on this clear but bitingly cold day.
Stood on the summit of what once epitomised excellence in social housing, stood our guide, Paul Wainwright who reels off all the key points on the horizon.
Paul lived here, not this high but high enough to appreciate the view. “It’s the best in Blackpool,” he admits. “But it had to go.”
• See The Gazette’s Lost Archives next Friday for a special look back at the history of Layton’s high-risers