British seaside icon Blackpool Tower opens after revamp

1st September 2011, Comments 0 comments

The Blackpool Tower, a British seaside icon, reopened Thursday after a 10-month revamp, the centrepiece of a £250-million bid to breathe new life into the faded holiday resort.

The dark red structure in northwest England, inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris, now boasts a tower-top viewpoint and a gruesome dungeon museum to attract visitors.

Opened in the 1890s, the tower was a popular tourist attraction for years but its popularity declined as holidaymakers deserted British resorts in favour of cheap deals in warmer climes.

Blackpool Council, which decided to regenerate the tower after buying it, hopes its regeneration programme for the area, worth 280 million euros or $400 million, will return the seaside town to its heyday.

The tower retains many original features such as the Tower Ballroom and Tower Circus, and new attractions include the Tower Eye, a viewpoint at the top of the structure with an entirely glass observation platform.

The dungeon museum is described as a walk through the region's "most horrible history".

There is also a specially-commissioned film of the history of the tower, including the story of former mayor John Bickerstaffe's decision to build the landmark, which he took after being inspired by seeing the Eiffel Tower.

The film features "sensory effects", from sea spray splashing in viewers' faces to the aroma of beach donkeys.

The council has been working with Merlin Entertainments on the regeneration and company boss Nick Varney said the tower "looks fantastic and has been restored with a great deal of skill and care.

"This, together with all the other investment going on in the town, means this much-loved seaside town has the potential, and the vision, to once again become one of Europe's leading family holiday destinations."

© 2011 AFP

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