She’s the glamorous old lady of high days and holidays, the symbol of salty air, seaside jollity and the aroma of fish, chips and fun.
The famous Blackpool Tower has seen kings and queens come and go, watched the world at war and watched over as the town provided refuge for evacuees and respite for our troops.
Constructed of 2,493 tons of steel and 93 tons of cast iron from the architectural minds of James Maxwell and Charles Tuke, she’s seen thousands of performers succeed and become legends where others failed.
She’s watched as millions of children built sandcastles, as dramatic storms battered our coast and lit up into hundreds of colours to mark the high and the lows of the town.
For 125 years the 518ft tall, grade one listed replica of the Eiffel Tower has loomed above our town and resort and in the minds of holidaymakers – one of the UK’s most visited tourist attractions.
Blackpool Tower IS Blackpool.
So today, on her birthday, it seems fair she gets a birthday party to remember and to equal her opening in 1894, where almost 3,000 people lined the streets of the resort to see this remarkable feat of architecture rise into the sky.
It will be a very special day.
And already famous faces and legends have been sending their birthday wishes and congratulations to the symbol of this very special town.
Kenny Mew, General Manager of the Tower which is now owned by Merlin attractions, will help lead the big birthday celebrations.
He said: “It is an incredible honour to manage The Blackpool Tower in such a landmark year.
“The Blackpool Tower resonates with the hearts and minds of all of its guests since it opened all those years ago.
“From spotting it on your way into the resort, the Blackpool Tower is a staple of the town’s history and celebrates the very best of British.
“We hope that people continue to show the same love for the Tower that they have over the decades and still visit in the years to come.”
Coun Gillian Campbell, Deputy Leader of Blackpool Council said: “On behalf of Blackpool Council, we want to wish Blackpool Tower a very happy 125th Birthday.
“Blackpool Tower is known all over the world and has welcomed millions of visitors over its 125 years.
“It is an iconic landmark not just here in Blackpool but across the UK and we wish it many more happy returns of gracing our skyline here in Blackpool.”
Festivities today will include resident Tower organist of more than 40 years Phil Kelsall MBE.
A resort legend, he is expected to lead everyone in song during a special high tea from the Tower Ballroom, which in its prestigious history has welcomed a host of A-List celebrities to royalty and just this year the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
President of Stay Blackpool Claire Smith said: “It is the first thing anyone thinks of when you mention the resort – we are so proud of our Tower and Ballroom and Circus and what it means to so many people.
“To see it reach another milestone is another proud moment and with thanks to owners Merlin who are looking after it, preserving its splendour and helping it grow.
“We are thrilled to see it reach 125 years and still providing enjoyment for visitors after all this time and hope the future generations will continue to take as much pleasure from it as we do.
“There is nothing quite like it – as you drive down the M55 you spot the iconic Blackpool Tower all lit up and all is right with the world.”
The doors open at 10am, with all visitors welcomed by tower staff in traditional Victorian outfits, in a nod to its history.
Bosses have also welcomed back staff from yesteryear to look at how it has changed across the decades.
At noon, The Blackpool Tower Ballroom will hold an event for VIPs and honoured guests.
Stars from The Blackpool Tower Circus will also give people a sneak peek of this year’s show-stopping performance.
In the evening, the celebrations will continue in The Blackpool Tower Eye with BBC Radio 1 DJ, Danny Howard.
The celebrations for Blackpool’s big birthday go far beyond just The Blackpool Tower.
Representatives will be at Blackpool Victoria Hospital today to welcome new arrivals sharing the birthday with the landmark – families who welcome a new addition from midnight to 11.55pm will be given lifetime admission to The Blackpool Tower.
In addition, The Blackpool Tower team has made it their goal for every child up to the age of 11 living in the local area to visit the top of the landmark in its 125th birthday year.
More information about The Blackpool Tower, including tickets, events and attractions, please visit www.theblackpooltower.com.
Above, clown Charlie Cairoli from the Blackpool Tower circus and his donkey wishes Andre Baldet of Northampton good luck for his 48 hour drive to Paris and back in a Trojan Lambretta bubble car
Top, Blackpool Tower Roof Garden Zoo. Above, the ballroom gets ready for Strictly Come Dancing
Today’s programme of events
Since 1894, The Blackpool Tower has stood tall over the Fylde Coast, helping to bring in tourists from far and wide to visit the coastal town and boost the local economy. To mark this significant date, there will be special events taking place across the day.
10am: The doors of the Tower will open to the public on it’s big birthday tomorrow with staff dressed in Victorian clothing in homage to its opening 125 years ago.
11am: Tower staff old and present will be welcomed for a special photo call on the steps in the magnificent Blackpool Tower Ballroom – all will be dressed in period costume.
1pm: Resident organist for more than 40 years Phil Kelsall MBE will lead a special congregation in a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday.’ The official 125 birthday cake will be cut in The Blackpool Tower Ballroom
1.40pm: Resident clowns Mooky and Mr Boo of the Endresz family will give a special performance alongside some of this season’s circus performers.
Young dancers from Langley’s Dance School will also perform a routine at 2.40pm
3pm: The dancefloor will be opened to the public in The Blackpool Tower Ballroom.
7pm: In the evening the party continues in the Blackpool Tower Eye with BBC Radio DJ Danny Howard.
The Blackpool-born DJ will get the party going until late with a special DJ set.
What you’ve been saying ...
The Gazette has been gathering memories from across the town as the countdown to the birthday began, with people across the county sending in their most-loved moments and stories from grand proposals to nuptials. Visitors over the years have recalled their favourite memories from their experiences of the Blackpool Tower Circus, which has never missed a season to taking to the Ballroom’s famous dancefloor.
Jane Voss wrote on Facebook: “Many memories, the most vivid of going up the stairs, with the real coloured tiles of birds etc, but all the ladies ballgowns in a rainbow of colours, stiff material nipping in their waists (1970s style ballgowns! )
“It was so graceful when I was a child we could only afford balcony seats for the circus -watching the cages go up in the interval for the lions.”