Monday, April 02, 2007

The tower ballroom


The ballroom in the Blackpool tower complex is the second such space, the original room being somewhat simpler with the band stage mid way down the north wall. The room was seriously damaged by fire in 1956 but was re-created exactly as the original, other than the addition of sprinkler systems. (The reservoir tank is the circus water arena.)

Whilst not a theatre, it is very theatrical in style, with serpentine balconies and onion-domed boxes flanking a proscenium-type platform stage.

Above the upper balcony, elaborate panels list names of composers and delightful paintings adorn the roof.

The central part of the roof was designed to slide back for ventilation and also provide a view of the stars on clear (non-rainy) nights.

The ballroom is home to the very famous Wurlitzer Organ, which rises from under-stage on a lift cinema-style and was installed in 1935. As it is continuous dancing, organists alternate between the Wurlitzer and an electronic Wersi Organ, seen behind which moves forward once the Wurlitzer is clear.

The Organ pipes are located above the proscenium, along with the usual effects like Glockenspiel, piano, chimes & toy shelf (percussion & effects like bird whistles, klaxons etc.)

I have to comment though, that the Organ is heavily amplified and as a consequence does not have the normal spatial imaging of a well installed Organ. Also, the requirement for strict tempo cramps the players style somewhat with regard to expression through timing.


The ballroom is never very busy during the day, but it is rare that the dance floor is empty either. Ladies and gentlemen, please take your partners for a waltz...

4 comments:

Liz said...

I was in Exeter recently and commented then, as I have done before, on the glory of the cathedral and architecture and the wonder of teh craftsmanship thta went into the building of - long before we had any clever computers or machinery.

I think the same goes for the Tower. The design of the Tower itself and the artwork of the ceilings, while perhaps not we'd choose for our living-rooms, just awes me. (Is there such a verb?)

Buildings today don't have a permanent look. It's as if the architect knows a building's life span will only be 50 years at the most so doens't bother with any adornment. Goes for low cost, easy maintenance. They look fine for a short while but soon look as if they're ready to be demolished.

CityUnslicker said...

A very impressive place, nice to see the pics as I will probably never ge there.

Delicolor said...

Liz, how true, architects don't build for posterity any more.

They still have the egos and the hubris, but not the budget.

Delicolor said...

City Unslicker- I thought I'd never go to Bromley, once!