Morecambe's towering attraction proved very popular

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Around the year 1900 there was an outbreak of tower-building up and down the Lancashire coast.

This began with Blackpool Tower in 1894 modelled, of course, on the 300 metre (984 foot) Eiffel Tower in Paris which had been built for the 1889 Exposition.

At 159 metres (519 feet) Blackpool Tower became the tallest structure in the country and remained so until the Post Office Tower was built in London in the 1960s.

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Below was the famous Tower Circus and Tower Ballroom of Strictly fame, designed by Frank Matcham.

Original map of new Tower Buildings in Morecambe.Original map of new Tower Buildings in Morecambe.
Original map of new Tower Buildings in Morecambe.

There were though rivals to Blackpool’s crowning tower, one actually taller – the 189 metre (621 foot) tower built at New Brighton in 1900.

However, the New Brighton tower wasn’t to last. It fell into decay during the Great War and was demolished in 1921.

Morecambe too made a bid in these tower wars.

The Morecambe Tower Co Ltd was formed in 1898 with plans for a modest 232 foot (71 metre) structure.

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George Formby on holiday at Middleton Tower Company, near Morecambe.George Formby on holiday at Middleton Tower Company, near Morecambe.
George Formby on holiday at Middleton Tower Company, near Morecambe.

What it lacked in height, it made up for in elegance and exoticism.

A spiral trackway made its way round and up an easy gradient from a base 150 feet (46 metres) in diameter to a platform and refreshment room 52 feet (16 metre) across at the top.

An electric tram and hydraulic lift were to provide an easy ascent, passing an oriental market place on the way, of bazaars and buffets attended by staff in exotic costumes.

Below the tower structure was a ballroom and concert pavilion with more traditional sideshows and concert parties in the grounds.

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Some of the Westgate Cricket team and players enjoying a drink at the Tower Ballroom in Morecambe celebrating New Year 1970. Those pictured include Ced Dyson, Bruce Boniface, Ken Tattersall and John Foster.Some of the Westgate Cricket team and players enjoying a drink at the Tower Ballroom in Morecambe celebrating New Year 1970. Those pictured include Ced Dyson, Bruce Boniface, Ken Tattersall and John Foster.
Some of the Westgate Cricket team and players enjoying a drink at the Tower Ballroom in Morecambe celebrating New Year 1970. Those pictured include Ced Dyson, Bruce Boniface, Ken Tattersall and John Foster.

Exotic towers and minarets dotted the tower’s main facade while India was the inspiration for the outside pavilions.

In the event, the tower structure never reached its planned height with various excuses offered – sandy soil that couldn’t support its weight, an economic downturn following the Boer War and the need for steel for the Great War.

The opening of the Tower even proved uncertain. After a false start in 1909 it re-opened at Easter 1912 under new management in 6 inches of snow.

With no heating, the audiences made do with overcoats, rugs and cushions.

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Memory Lane Dec 9 Seaside Stars - can you name this  little lot? from left to right (back row),Max Wall??? and Dickie Henderson, singers Ronnie Carroll and Josef Locke, unknown exotic looking woman (Eve Boswell? Alma Cogan?), comedy actor Jimmy Clitheroe, double act Ernie Wise and Eric Morecambe, front row, Unknown (yet looks frustratingly familiar!), slapstick star Charlie Drake, singer Edmund Hockeridge and Unknown (and rather good looking) man. We know Eric and Ern played the ABC theatre in 1965 seaside stars.Memory Lane Dec 9 Seaside Stars - can you name this  little lot? from left to right (back row),Max Wall??? and Dickie Henderson, singers Ronnie Carroll and Josef Locke, unknown exotic looking woman (Eve Boswell? Alma Cogan?), comedy actor Jimmy Clitheroe, double act Ernie Wise and Eric Morecambe, front row, Unknown (yet looks frustratingly familiar!), slapstick star Charlie Drake, singer Edmund Hockeridge and Unknown (and rather good looking) man. We know Eric and Ern played the ABC theatre in 1965 seaside stars.
Memory Lane Dec 9 Seaside Stars - can you name this little lot? from left to right (back row),Max Wall??? and Dickie Henderson, singers Ronnie Carroll and Josef Locke, unknown exotic looking woman (Eve Boswell? Alma Cogan?), comedy actor Jimmy Clitheroe, double act Ernie Wise and Eric Morecambe, front row, Unknown (yet looks frustratingly familiar!), slapstick star Charlie Drake, singer Edmund Hockeridge and Unknown (and rather good looking) man. We know Eric and Ern played the ABC theatre in 1965 seaside stars.

Once in its stride the Tower proved very popular. Outside there were brass band concerts and fresh faces in the concert parties (George Formby was one making an early appearance at the Tower).

Music Hall and Variety artistes included Vesta Tilley, George Robey, Little Tich, Flanagan & Allen and Florrie Ford.

Dame Nellie Melba gave a celebrity concert. Musicals included Bitter Sweet, Chu Chin Chow, Rose Marie, The Desert Song and White Horse Inn.

There were ice shows and roller skating. The tower was home to conferences and Morecambe Musical Festival as well as finding a new role as the Gaumont cinema.

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The Gaumont was demolished around 1960 to make way for Morecambe Bowl (now Buzz Bingo).

The Tower Ballroom is still fondly remembered as a leading venue for Old Time ballroom dancing in the North West.

Some of the 2,500 balloons rise above the Polo Tower in Morecambe after the Mayor of Lancaster coun Sybil Rostron launched  the Royal British Legion's Lancashire Poppy Appeal for 1999.Some of the 2,500 balloons rise above the Polo Tower in Morecambe after the Mayor of Lancaster coun Sybil Rostron launched  the Royal British Legion's Lancashire Poppy Appeal for 1999.
Some of the 2,500 balloons rise above the Polo Tower in Morecambe after the Mayor of Lancaster coun Sybil Rostron launched the Royal British Legion's Lancashire Poppy Appeal for 1999.

Its sprung floor was much admired while its lighting (variously described as mystic or carnival lanterns) was provided by Addenbrooke’s Kaleidoscope Globes.

Two less ambitious towers topped and tailed Morecambe’s 20th century skyline: Warwick’s Revolving Tower and the polo Tower each 150 feet (46 metres) high and each with a spinning carousel.