More than 18,000 Heather Blue roofing slates from Welsh Slate’s Penrhyn Quarry in North Wales have been used at the Grade I listed venue.
Owner Blackpool Council has invested £650,000 in replacing the outer roof structure as part of a wider £6million makeover of the iconic building. This is the first time the roof has been
re-slated in the ballroom’s 111-year history.
Cumbria-based MPM North West, and consultants and designers GVA Grimley, are overseeing the like-for-like replacement of the slate section of the roof along with other external works.
MPM North West managing director Mike Hawkins said: “The ballroom has a faceted, mansard-type roof with a 30mx15m lead section in the centre of three main slate pitches.
“The re-slating work was fairly intricate and the extreme weather didn’t make things any easier, and in order to protect the ballroom we had to build a 60mx70m temporary roof.
“It was a complex job but it’s a pleasure to look at now it’s complete. All credit to Blackpool Council for taking a pro-active approach to protecting an important landmark.”
The 18,000-plus Welsh roofing slates supplied to MPM North West by Wallace Slate UK were 7mm thick 500x300mm county grade slates.
Mark Nicholson of Wallace Slate UK said: “Given its seafront location the tower is often exposed to tough weather conditions. Using such a durable and tough product as Welsh slate has ensured that the roof will last for another century at least.”
The Tower Ballroom opened in 1899, having been designed by Frank Matcham. In 1956 a fire destroyed the dance floor and restaurant and restoration took two years. It hosted the grand final of BBC TV’s Strictly Come Dancing in 2004, and the venue has also hosted many music concerts by acts including the White Stripes.
As well as re-slating, renovation of the roof has included replacement of leadwork and repair work to the opening roof mechanism above the dance floor.
“Blackpool Tower is a hugely significant building and is steeped in heritage. As the original ballroom roof was made from Welsh slate it was vitally important to have a like-for-like replacement.”
Mark Nicholson, Wallace Slate UK