Blackpool Tower restoration works complete

The first phase of the refurbishment of the iconic tower has completed in time for the 2011 illuminations switch on, with two new attractions being launched.

Blackpool Council and venue operator Merlin Entertainments said the first phase to improve the Grade 1 listed building was finished six months ahead of the original schedule.

The council acquired Blackpool Tower from Trevor Hemmings' Leisure Parcs last year along with the Winter Gardens.

The tower's observation platform was improved and is reopening under the title of Blackpool Tower Eye, which features a glass 'skywalk' and 4D cinema and also opening from 1 September is a family attraction, known as Blackpool Tower Dungeon.

The council said free entry and "pay as you play" pricing to the refurbished main areas is also being introduced from Thursday.

Merlin believes this will also encourage regular use by both local residents and visitors.

The purchase was funded by Blackpool Council, contributing £10m, with grants provided by the European Regional Development Fund North West, £14m, North West Development Agency, £7.9m, and the Homes & Communities Agency, £7m.

The council added that the main aim of the project was to complement Balckpool's £350m regeneration, secure a long-term investment in the resort, boost visitor numbers by 800,000 and inject an extra to £55m visitor spend into the local economy.

Cllr Graham Cain, cabinet member for tourism and culture at Blackpool Council, said: "Thanks to the regeneration that has already taken place visitor numbers have steadily been increasing with 13 million visits last year and people seeing a new side of Blackpool. Tourism is the town's key revenue driver – and we have to get this right in order to deal successfully with some of the social programmes which are so important to the town."

The second phase will restore the ballroom and circus and add new shopping and restaurant facilities.

The Blackpool 2011 illuminations switch on runs from Friday 2 September until Sunday 6 November.

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Waited decades for the previous owner to spend on this site and look what’s been achieved in 12 months. well done all concerned and keep it coming

By Towering funnel

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