Experts will inspect heritage assets including Blackpool Tower

Scaffolding in the Empress Ballroom last year
Scaffolding in the Empress Ballroom last year
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Surveys are to be made of ceilings at historic buildings in Blackpool as part of a £243,000 contract to ensure they are safe.

Blackpool Council has appointed a specialist company to carry out the work at properties it owns including the Tower, Winter Gardens, Grundy Art Gallery, Town Hall and Central Library which have fibrous moulded plaster ceilings.

Read More: PICTURES: Restoring Blackpool's Empress Ballroom to all its glory

The move comes in the wake of incidents including the failure of a panel above the Empress Ballroom in the Winter Gardens which crashed to the floor below in 2017.

The collapse of a ceiling at the Apollo Theatre in London in 2013 also prompted the Association of British Theatre Technicians to issue advice on the survey of these type of ceilings.

Following a tendering process to find a company with the right level of heritage expertise, Bristol-based contractor Hayles and Howe has been chosen by the council to undertake the inspections.

It is the same company which restored the Empress Ballroom ceiling last year.

Currently there is no routine specialist survey scheme in place.

A council report says the incident at the Winter Gardens "and the extensive requirement for remedial works brought this issue into sharp focus."

It adds: "The nature of the work is very specialist and requires analysis of both above and below the plaster ceilings, often in cramped, confined and dusty spaces and a survey of the structural elements supporting the ceilings.

"The surveys should indicate and prioritise any remedial works required to keep the public safe and to protect these heritage assets from further damage."

Once the work is completed, safety certificates will be issued providing no faults are found.

It is also hoped the scheme will give the council more understanding of the repairs and refurbishment work required for the ceilings.

The Empress Ballroom was closed following the collapse of an ornate ceiling panel in September 2017 but partially reopened to certain events with eight scaffolding pillars holding a working floor at height while repairs were carried out.

However a number of concerts had to be cancelled and it was not until November last year the venue was able to host live music again with a concert by The Beautiful South.