Blackpool Tower Ballroom’s amazing 21,000 hour lockdown restoration costing £1.1m

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A team that includes some of the most highly skilled craftsmen in the country, who have worked across the world on projects including the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace have worked on it

Specialist painters and fibrous plasterers work on the major conservation project taking place in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, in Blackpool, northern England on April 20, 2021
Specialist painters and fibrous plasterers work on the major conservation project taking place in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, in Blackpool, northern England on April 20, 2021 (Image: This is Influential)

One of the UK’s most iconic buildings is today a step closer to re-opening its doors following a £1.1M refurbishment.

The Blackpool Tower Ballroom, located in the Grade 1 Listed Blackpool Tower, is hoping to re-open on June 21, providing the Government’s latest road-map out of lockdown goes to plan.

The venue, which dates back to 1894 and is known by millions as the home to Strictly Come Dancing’s annual ballroom special, has under-gone the most extensive programme of work and deep clean for more than 60 years.

A team, including some of the most highly skilled craftsmen in the country, who have worked across the world on projects including the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace, have dedicated more than 21,000 hours, over a period of six months, each climbing an average of 85 flights of scaffolding daily, to restore the famous Blackpool Tower Ballroom to its original glory.

The team has discovered signatures under the murals that adorn the ornate plasterwork ceiling showing the last time anyone was in this space was in 1957.

A specialist painter works on the major conservation project taking place in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, in Blackpool, northern England on April 20, 2021
A specialist painter works on the major conservation project taking place in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, in Blackpool, northern England on April 20, 2021 (Image: Blackpool Tower Ballroom)

These historic works took place following a fire in the building which caused severe damage to the ballroom. At the time, these works were estimated to cost over half a million pounds and took 17 months to complete.

The work has been made possible thanks to a lifeline grant of £764,000 as part of the Government’s unprecedented £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, together with funding from Blackpool Council, taking the total investment to £1.1M.

The grant, awarded to Blackpool Council by Historic England, has supported the venue to carry out comprehensive repair and restoration work on the ballroom’s period plasterwork ceiling.

Project Manager Keith Langton inspects and oversees the major conservation work taking place in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, in Blackpool, northern England on April 20, 2021
Project Manager Keith Langton inspects and oversees the major conservation work taking place in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, in Blackpool, northern England on April 20, 202 (Image: This is Influential)

It is one of the most “significant” projects Historic England has been involved with to date and has replicated the skills used by workers back in 1894 when the Tower was built, including:

· Skilled scaffolders, artists, decorators, structural engineers, joiners, plasters and conservators all pooling their skills.

· The rare art of fibrous plastering

· More than two tonnes of plaster being mixed.

A specialist painter works on the major conservation project taking place in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, in Blackpool, northern England on April 20, 2021
A specialist painter works on the major conservation project taking place in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, in Blackpool, northern England on April 20, 2021 (Image: Blackpool Tower Ballroom)

· Organic hessian being imported from India to mix with the plaster to make a special formula allowing intricate repairs to be carried out to the ornate plaster work adorning the ballroom ceiling.

· A team of over 30 specialists on site, working a combined 21,000 hours.

· Skilled craftspeople working daily in tiny roof spaces to inspect and restore the ornate plasterwork from behind the ceiling.

· Oil paints being colour-matched by the naked eye by on site restoration experts to patch up murals damaged by water ingress and nicotine over the years.

· Several hundred litres of gold paint being mixed to ensure the gold leaf ornate artwork is restored to its former glory.

· Deep cleaning behind all of the ornate models which adorn the ceiling, with dozens of dust filled bags being removed from site every day.

· Murals being deep cleaned removing water damage and nicotine damage from over the decades.

· Intricate and detailed research work being carried out to establish exactly how the work was originally done to ensure all the works which took place during this latest refurbishment were carried out to the exact same standards. This involved drilling more than 12 square spaces in the roof space to enable this “methodology” as the craftspeople call it to be carried out.

The entire space of the Blackpool Tower Ballroom is covered in scaffolding to facilitate the major conservation project taking place, in Blackpool, northern England on April 20, 2021
The entire space of the Blackpool Tower Ballroom is covered in scaffolding to facilitate the major conservation project taking place, in Blackpool, northern England on April 20, 2021 (Image: Blackpool Tower Ballroom)

The work, led by Hayles and Howe, specialists in ornamental plaster work and scagliola, has also uncovered some incredibly rare and unusual finds – all discovered in the angel figures adorning the ballroom ceiling.

These have included newspapers dating back to 1911, old cigarette packs which would be museum pieces today and even an old walking stick, believed to date back to the early fifties.

Keith Langton, project manager, said: “I thought Buckingham Palace had the wow factor – which obviously it absolutely did.

“But working here at The Blackpool Tower Ballroom has literally blown me away. This really is something else. It is a project I will never forget – and perhaps even a project for me to retire on.

Everyone wants to end their career on a high – and I don’t think I could get a better high than working at the Ballroom.

“It has been an absolute pleasure and honour!”

He has, however, warned of the desperate need to recruit more young craftspeople into what he describes as a “rare trade.”

Keith added: “We are just not seeing enough young people coming through.

“Fibrous plastering – the key trade being used on the refurbishment – is becoming a rare trade and we just cannot allow this to happen.

“Without people being skilled in this way, buildings like this would be forced to close. It is essential more young people take up careers in this sector.

Literally everywhere I go, in this country and abroad, I make it a priority to pass on as many skills as possible to as many people as possible – hopefully inspiring them all along the way!”

This the longest period of time in its history the ballroom has been closed, with the exception of the fire in 1956/7.

 

Blackpool boy, 9, killed by lightning strike named for first time

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Jordan Banks was rushed to hospital with “serious injuries” but died a short time later, police confirmed.

Jordan Banks was killed in Blackpool yesterday
Jordan Banks was killed in Blackpool yesterday (Image: Danielle Begg)

A young boy who was killed after being hit by a lightning strike has been named.

The nine-year-old was playing on a football field in Blackpool yesterday (May 11) during a heavy storm when the incident happened.

A huge emergency response was issued shortly after 5pm with several police vehicles and an air ambulance attending the scene off School Road, where a child was reported to have been injured.

The boy was rushed to hospital with “serious injuries” but died a short time later, police confirmed.

Officers believe the boy had been struck by lightning, although enquiries are still ongoing.

The boy’s family have been informed and are being supported by officers.

He has been named locally as Jordan Banks, a pupil at Stanley Primary School in Blackpool.

Jordan, the middle child of three, was a massive Liverpool FC fan.

LancsLive reported in January this year how he had received a special message from one of his favourite LFC footballers, James Milner, after he ran a marathon in honour of a close family member who took his own life in 2018.

Earlier today, heartfelt tributes including flowers, football shirts and messages were left at the scene of the playing pitch.

Tributes have also poured in for the youngster across social media.

Spirit of Youth Junior Football Club paid a message of condolence after the tragic incident which happened on their home ground at Common Edge. Jordan was not a player at the club.

The moving tributes left to the nine-year-old boy who died last night (May 11)
The moving tributes left to the nine-year-old boy who died last night (May 11) (Image: LancsLive)

A spokesperson for Spirit of Youth Junior Football Club said: “It is with deepest regret that we have to report the news that the young boy who was struck by lightning earlier this evening has sadly passed away.

“The tragic incident happened on our home ground at Common Edge playing fields but it was not during a club training session.

“The young boy was not a Spirit of Youth player, but, Spirit of Youth is a family and we are entrenched in the local community, and we will give whatever support is required to both the family and to those that were with him at the time.

“We would ask that people respect the privacy of the family at this most tragic of times.

“Rest in peace young man.”

Jordan, who played for the Under 9s team at Clifton Rangers Junior Football Club, has been described as “an inspiration to everyone that he met”.

Flowers laid outside Stanley Primary School
Flowers laid outside Stanley Primary School (Image: LancsLive/BPL Bible)

A spokesperson for the club said: “It is with great sadness and a very heavy heart we announce that the tragic incident yesterday involved one of our own players.

“Jordan of our U9 Bees, tragically passed away yesterday evening doing what he loved. Jordan was a Shining Light and an inspiration to everyone that he met. A strong, determined and courageous young man, who will be missed by everyone.

“The world has truly lost an extraordinary young man, who had done so much good in his community,

“We cannot begin to imagine the grief of the family. Our thoughts, prayers, love and hugs go out to them all and to his teammates, friends and coaches who are devastated by the loss.

“The Club will be working with the FA to support the family and anyone touched by this tragedy and ensure they get the help they need. At this time, whilst we come to terms with this most devastating loss, we will not be making any further comment.

“Fly High Young Man, Sleep Tight and God Bless.”

In a statement issued yesterday, Det Supt Nick Connaughton of Lancashire Police said: “This is a truly devastating incident and our thoughts are wholeheartedly with the family and friends of the young boy, who has passed away, at this very sad and distressing time.”

School Road was shut between Common Edge Road and Midgeland Road but reopened shortly after 7pm yesterday.

An appeal for witnesses and information is underway, police have confirmed.

Anybody with information about the incident, or who witnessed it and has not yet spoken to police, is asked to get in touch on 101, quoting log 1169 of May 11.

Mysterious ‘baby alien’ objects discovered on Cleveleys beach explained

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“They look rather sad out of the water, as the body is not able to support its own weight, and the tentacles form a soggy mass around the head.”

Strange "balloon" creatures spotted on Carlin Rock, Cleveleys
Strange “balloon” creatures spotted on Carlin Rock, Cleveleys (Image: Gemma Duignan)

A picture has emerged on social media of what appear to be strange creatures clung to a rock on Cleveleys seafront.

The “balloon” like creatures were spotted dangling from Carlin Rock yesterday afternoon (Sunday May 10) which left many people baffled.

Explanations on Facebook ranged from jellyfish and baby aliens to mermaids purses and wayward dog poo bags.

Given the recent activity on Cleveley’s north promenade, others thought these may be baby aliens from Star Wars left behind by film crews.

LancsLive can now confirm however that the creatures, plumose anemones, appear so strange because they are far from their home in deep water.

Ones that remain in the depths of the sea can actually grow to two feet tall.

Chair of Lancashire Marine Conservation Society, Barry Kaye said: “The animals that look like soggy rubber balloons hanging from the rock are probably plumose anemones,Metridium sp, which usually live in deeper water in moderate to fast flowing water.

“Underwater they would look similar to this photo I took this on the cruiser Dresden at Scapa Flow, Orkney.

How the anemones appear underwater in Dresden at Scapa Flow, Orkney which can grow up to two feet tall
How the anemones appear underwater in Dresden at Scapa Flow, Orkney which can grow up to two feet tall (Image: Lancashire Marine Conservation Society)

“They look rather sad out of the water, as the body is not able to support its own weight, and the tentacles form a soggy mass around the head.

“I presume this was taken on quite a low tide, as they are not keen on being exposed, and this will keep their size down. The ones at Scapa Flow were up to two feet tall.”

“It is quite common to see them attached to jetties or other structures where there is a good tidal flow. We have previously recorded them under the lifeboat jetty at Roa Island on shore walks at extreme low water.”

According to Living Seas North West these anemones are often found under ledges or beneath boulders where there is little wave action and are identifiable from their wide base and feathery tentacles.

They sweep the passing seawater with their tentacles to catch small zooplankton as their food. When disturbed, the Plumose anemone will fold in their tentacles and close in on themselves.

Unannounced Blackpool hospital inspection came with staff ‘in eye of Covid storm’

The day of the unannounced visit had coincided with the hospital coping with the highest number of Covid patient admissions of the pandemicLancsLive - Latest news, sport, business and more from Lancashire

The day of the unannounced visit had coincided with the hospital coping with the highest number of Covid patient admissions of the pandemic

A view of Blackpool Victoria Hospital
A view of Blackpool Victoria Hospital (Image: Andrew Teebay)

Health chiefs say they are working hard to improve patient care at Blackpool Victoria Hospital after a recent inspection found the hospital was suffering from ‘insufficient numbers of qualified medical staff’.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) raised a number of issues following the inspection in January of the emergency department and urgent care services.

CQC’s deputy chief inspector for the north Ann Ford said among areas where immediate improvements were needed was to ensure people could access the appropriate service in a prompt and timely way.

This was not always happening because patient flow, which is the ability to get people care quickly and efficiently, was a challenge.

Peter Murphy, director of nursing at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust told a public meeting of the board there was “nothing in the report we weren’t aware of and weren’t working hard on to address”.

He said the day of the unannounced visit by the inspection team had coincided with the hospital coping with the highest number of Covid patient admissions of the pandemic, with staff being “in the eye of the storm”.

This had impacted on patient flow as medics battled to get the right care for patients.

But Mr Murphy added: “There isn’t a hospital across the NHS that wasn’t affected by patient flow during the pandemic.”

However he said a lack of nurses, which had been highlighted by the CQC report in 2019, was not the case now.

He said: “The system we have now got is twice daily staffing checks and where we see gaps, we can allocate the resources.

“They regarded that as outstanding practice and we try to improve that every day.”

He added: “We are making daily improvements to our services. This is not a quick fix or a one year turnaround, but about undoing years of problematic issues.”

Blackpool workers spotted dangerously close to roof edge sparking £18,000 fine

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Ron Richardson Construction, of Amy Johnson Way, has bee fined and ordered to pay costs

The workers were spotted five floors up on the roof edge
The workers were spotted five floors up on the roof edge

Ron Richardson Construction, of Amy Johnson Way, has bee fined and ordered to pay costs

A construction company has been fined after workers were spotted standing precariously on a roof’s edge on the top floor of a block of Blackpool flats.

Ron Richardson Construction appeared at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court after two employees were seen waterproofing a flat in Harrow Place.

The workers, who were on the fifth floor of the building, were witnessed moving close to an unprotected edge without anything to stop them from falling.

They were not being monitored and had accesses the roof to do work they were unable to do from below with the equipment provided for them.

Enforcement Notices had already been served against the company for work at height failures at the same site.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company had not followed its own procedures and was not sufficiently supervising the work.

Suitable edge protection to prevent a fall from height was not provided and the workers had not been given sufficient training in working safely on roofs.

Ron Richardson Construction Limited of Seneca House, Links Point, Amy Johnson Way, Blackpool pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 (1) of The Work at Height Regulations 2005. They were fined £18,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,342.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Christine McGlynn said: “The dangers here could have been mitigated with adequate planning and supervision of the work undertaken.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fail to heed advice and continue to breach health and safety legislation.”

Blackburn and Blackpool see biggest increases as Lancashire records another 86 new Covid cases

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A total of 126,216 cases have now been recorded across Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Hyndburn, Chorley, Lancaster, Preston, Burnley, Wyre, South Ribble, Pendle, Rossendale, Ribble Valley, Fylde and West Lancs

Lancashire has recorded a further 86 coronavirus cases in the latest 24-hour period.

Blackburn with Darwen accounted for nearly a quarter of these as the borough continues its recent trend of registering the biggest daily increase of positive tests in the county.

Another 21 people have contracted the virus since yesterday bringing its total to 18,395 since the start of the pandemic.

Blackpool was the only other Lancashire borough to see a double-digit rise in new cases while 11 other areas recorded smaller amounts.

A recording error by Public Health England means Ribble Valley’s tally has dropped by one.

Tonight’s figures from PHE England were delays due to recording problems in Scotland.

Lancashire has now recorded a total of 126,216 cases since the start of the pandemic. It is important to note that most of these are no longer active infections.

The Government also said that, as of 9am on Tuesday, there had been a further 2,474 lab-confirmed cases in the UK. It brings the total to 4,439,691.

A further 20 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday, bringing the UK total to 127,629.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have been 152,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Government data up to May 10 shows that of the 53,675,733 jabs given in the UK so far, 35,587,348 were first doses – a rise of 115,053 on the previous day.

Some 18,088,385 were second doses, an increase of 231,835.

Daily cases of Covid confirmed in every Lancashire borough as of Tuesday, May 11

The data below includes the total number of cases and overall infection rate for each area since the pandemic began. Many of these cases will no longer be active.

Blackburn with Darwen: 18,395 (+21) 12,288.2 per 100,000

Blackpool: 9,275 (+10) 6,651.3 per 100,000

Burnley: 9,980 (+6) 11,223.6 per 100,000

Chorley: 7,990 (+7) 6,758.8 per 100,000

Fylde: 4,808 (+2) 5,952 per 100,000

Hyndburn: 8,024 (+6) 9,900.9 per 100,000

Lancaster: 9,518 (+6) 6,517.5 per 100,000

Pendle: 9,719 (+5) 10,551.3 per 100,000

Preston: 13,957 (+5) 9,750.9 per 100,000

Ribble Valley: 4,603 (-1) 7,559.8 per 100,000

Rossendale: 6,133 (+6) 8,579.8 per 100,000

South Ribble: 8,163 (+5) 7,368.1 per 100,000

West Lancashire: 8,958 (+5) 7,836.9 per 100,000

Wyre: 6,693 (+3) 5,971 per 100,000

Moving tributes left at Blackpool football pitch where boy was killed by lightning

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“We are heartbroken and we offer our deepest condolences to the boy’s family”

The moving tributes left to the nine-year-old boy who died last night (May 11)
The moving tributes left to the nine-year-old boy who died last night (May 11) (Image: LancsLive)

Heartfelt tributes have been paid to a young boy who was struck and killed by lightning in Blackpool.

Flowers and football shirts have been left at the Spirit of Youth Junior Football Club after the tragic event last night (May 11) involving one of their players.

Several police vehicles and an air ambulance were called to the pitches off School Road in Blackpool shortly after 5pm to reports that a child had been injured.

Paramedics took the boy to hospital with serious injuries, but he died a short while later.

Spirit of Youth FC paid tribute to the boy, who died at their home ground at Common Edge playing fields.

Spirit of Youth FC in Blackpool have paid tribute to the boy, saying: “It is with deepest regret that we have to report the news that the young boy who was struck by lightning earlier this evening has sadly passed away.

Bouquets of flowers have been left at the scene at Common Edge
Bouquets of flowers have been left at the scene at Common Edge

“The tragic incident happened on our home ground at Common Edge playing fields but it was not during a club training session.

“As a club, we are heartbroken and we offer our deepest condolences to the boy’s family.

“Spirit of Youth is a family and we are entrenched in the local community, and we will give whatever support is required to both the family and to those that were with him at the time.

“We would ask that people respect the privacy of the family at this most tragic of times.

“Rest In Peace young man.”

Since the tragedy, hundreds of tributes have flooded in for the school boy, who has not yet been named by the authorities.

In the latest outpouring of grief, football shirts have been tied to a post at the edge of the playing field and there are several bouquets of flowers laid on the ground.

Tributes pour in for Blackpool boy, 9, who died after being struck by lightning

LancsLive - Latest news, sport, business and more from Lancashire

“There are no words for such a tragedy.”

Emergency services were called to the playing fields off School Road and Jepson Way
Emergency services were called to the playing fields off School Road and Jepson Way (Image: Google)

A community is mourning the tragic death of a young boy after he was struck by lightning.

The nine-year-old was playing on a football field in Blackpool yesterday (May 11) during a heavy storm when the incident happened.

Several police vehicles and an air ambulance were called to the pitches off School Road shortly after 5pm to reports a child had been injured.

Police believe the boy had been struck by lightning, although enquiries are still ongoing.

The child, who has not been named, was rushed to hospital with “serious injuries” but died a short time later, police confirmed.

The boy’s family have been informed and are being supported by officers.

Tributes have been pouring in for the boy, with messages of condolence from football clubs, the local community and beyond.

The child had been playing at the Spirit of Youth Junior Football Club’s home ground at Common Edge, and while he was not a player at the club, tributes have been paid.

A spokesperson for Spirit of Youth Junior Football Club said: “It is with deepest regret that we have to report the news that the young boy who was struck by lightning earlier this evening has sadly passed away.

“The tragic incident happened on our home ground at Common Edge playing fields but it was not during a club training session.

“The young boy was not a Spirit of Youth player, but, Spirit of Youth is a family and we are entrenched in the local community, and we will give whatever support is required to both the family and to those that were with him at the time.

“We would ask that people respect the privacy of the family at this most tragic of times.

“Rest in peace young man.”

The local community has been rocked by the news, with heartfelt messages of love spreading across social media, including on LancsLive’s Facebook page.

Angela Dunne said: “Absolutely tragic our hearts goes out to his family.”

Grace Field said: “Rest in peace little one. Tragic tragedy xx thoughts are with his family and every other person his life touched xx”

Isabell French added: “Tragedy my whole heartedly ache in my heart for the boy and his family R. I. P Little man.”

“This poor boy and his family, there just aren’t any words,” Anuska Cottle said.

Janet Treharne added: “There are no words for such a tragedy. My thoughts are with his family. Big hugs to you all x”

In a statement issued yesterday, Det Supt Nick Connaughton of Lancashire Police said: “This is a truly devastating incident and our thoughts are wholeheartedly with the family and friends of the young boy, who has passed away, at this very sad and distressing time.”

School Road was shut between Common Edge Road and Midgeland Road but reopened shortly after 7pm.

An appeal for witnesses and information is underway, police have confirmed.

Anybody with information about the incident, or who witnessed it and has not yet spoken to police, is asked to get in touch on 101, quoting log 1169 of May 11.

Blackpool boy, 9, dies after being hit by lightning on football field – updates

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The boy was thought to have been taking part in a training session

School Road in Blackpool
School Road in Blackpool

A nine-year-old boy has died after being struck by lightning as he played football.

Emergency services were called to the area off School Road in Blackpool shortly after 5pm today (May 11) to reports a child had been injured

The age of the boy has not been released.

Police said they believe the boy had been struck by lightning during a thunderstorm and was rushed to hospital with “serious injuries”.

Officers have now confirmed the the boy, who has not been named, sadly died a short time later.

His family have been informed and are being supported by officers.

Det Supt Nick Connaughton of Lancashire Police said: “This is a truly devastating incident and our thoughts are wholeheartedly with the family and friends of the young boy, who has passed away, at this very sad and distressing time.”

School Road was closed between Common Edge Road and Midgeland Road but has since reopened.

Police have launched an appeal for witnesses and information.

Anybody with information about the incident, or who witnessed it and has not yet spoken to police, is asked to get in touch on 101, quoting log 1169 of May 11th.