Putting sparkle into town’s heart

Work on the Promenade near Blackpool Tower.
Work on the Promenade near Blackpool Tower.
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PUTTING the beating heart back into Blackpool.

That is the message from a new lighting feature set to adorn the Tower.

Tourism chiefs want to put the sparkle back into the Grade I landmark by adorning the front with a giant illuminated heart which would overlook the Comedy Carpet.

Made up of hundreds of LED lights, it could be programmed to create multiple patterns, colours and shimmering effects.

LEDs are also set to replace the existing lights at the top of the Tower, while new bulbs will be fitted to the legs of the structure.

Listed building consent is being sought from the council for the scheme which it is hoped could be in place in time for this year’s Illuminations.

Iain Hawkins (pictured), Blackpool head of Merlin which operates the Tower, said: “We think this signifies the new beating heart of Blackpool and the way everything is coming together.

“One of the things we talk about at Merlin is sparkle.

“We are bringing a lot of new attractions to the town but one of the things we want to provide is added sparkle.

“The new high tech lighting will mean we can turn the top of the Tower and the heart into any colour we want and make it a beacon for Blackpool.

“When people are approaching the town from the motorway, they will see it in the distance and it will look fantastic.”

Elaine Smith, chairman of Blackpool Civic Trust, welcomed the new lighting scheme.

She said: “I think the heart is a great idea because the Tower is at the heart of Blackpool.

“As long as it doesn’t do any damage to the actual structure, that is ok but all the work Merlin is doing is very sympathetic to the building.

“The Tower is an entertainment venue when all is said and done, and if it brings people to Blackpool to look at it, that’s great.”

The heart will be linked to the wedding chapel currently being built on the Tower Festival Headland.

It would face west and be mounted between 128 feet and 165 fight up the structure.

Its design is based on the heart used in VisitBlackpool’s ‘I Love Blackpool’ marketing campaign.

The LEDs within it are similar to those already used in the Illuminations welcome arches and can be programmed to create multiple patterns, colours and shimmering effects.

They can create 16 million colours, according to a report accompanying the plans.

The report adds: “From a simple red beating heart to a green St Patrick’s Day special, many options are available.

“The heart can operate as either a stand alone or can be controlled from the wedding chapel so it can be linked to specific wedding activities if required by arrangement.”

Meanwhile, work is progressing on the new Blackpool Tower Dungeon and the observation deck, which are due to open in September.

Mr Hawkins said: “The top of the Tower is going to be completely different to how it was before.”

Lighting has adorned the Tower in various ways for at least 50 years but parts of the existing festoon are now reaching the end of their natural life.

The application will now go before planners.