£1m needed for urgent repairs to historic Blackpool Tower Circus

Council chiefs have agreed to spend £1m to safeguard the future of the historic Blackpool Tower Circus after surveys found the ceiling in need of urgent repairs.

Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 4:44 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd December 2021, 11:11 am

A town hall report reveals the ceiling of the circus inside the Grade I listed Blackpool Tower has been “closely monitored for some time” after a survey showed the structure “to be in poor condition.”

The report warns not doing the work “would not allow the Circus to continue to operate.”

The estimated cost of repairs is £643,629, which will be paid by the council through prudential borrowing with annual repayments over 25 years totalling just over £1m from the Strategic Leisure Assets portfolio.

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Coun leader Coun Lynn Williams approved the investment and agreed to give "delegated authority to undertake a scheme of urgent and essential works identified as required to the Blackpool Tower Circus historic ceiling".

A report setting out the reasons says temporary repairs to stabilise the ceiling were made in 2020 but since then “further significant deterioration to the ceiling has occurred.”

This led to a further detailed survey who findings “require that permanent works are to be completed, in order to stabilise and safeguard the ceiling on a more permanent basis”.

The work will be done while the Circus is closed for the winter, with operator Merlin expecting to welcome audiences back for the 2022 season.

In previous years the attraction has hosted a pantomime, but no shows were scheduled for Christmas this year.

The Circus dates back to 1894 and is the oldest permanent circus arena in the world, able to seat an audience of 1,300 people.

It is the fifth ceiling in the council’s portfolio of listed buildings to require urgent investment.

In 2018, the ceiling of the Empress Ballroom inside the Grade II* Winter Gardens was restored at a cost of £750,000, while a £1.1m refurbishment of the Tower Ballroom ceiling was completed earlier this year including a £750,000 government grant.

In August 2019, the council also spent £13,000 on repairs to the council chamber ceiling within the Grade II listed Town Hall, and in October this year it was revealed repairs are needed to the roof of the Grade II listed Central Library which will cost £290,000.

In 2019 the council appointed experts to survey ceilings at all its historic buildings as part of a £240,000 contract to ensure they were safe.

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